Tag:James Shields
Posted on: December 8, 2011 8:43 am
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Homegrown Team: Tampa Bay Rays

Josh Hamilton

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

No team has had as much success drafting and developing its players like the Tampa Bay Rays. The one-time laughingstock of MLB is a model franchise to even the biggest spenders. The Rays have had big name leave, but keep replacing them with younger, seemingly better players. A year ago, the Rays lost Carl Crawford because they could no longer afford him. By the end of the season, Crawford and the Red Sox were sitting at home while the Rays were in the playoffs -- again. The reason is because they grown enough crops on the farm to have a successful harvest nearly every fall.

Lineup

1. Carl Crawford, LF
2. Desmond Jennings, RF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Josh Hamilton, DH
5. B.J. Upton, CF
6. Aubrey Huff, 1B
7. Reid Brignac, 2B
8. John Jaso, C
9. Elliot Johnson, SS

Starting Rotation

1. David Price
2. James Shields
3. Jeremy Hellickson
4. Wade Davis
5. Jeff Niemann

Bullpen

Closer - Dan Wheeler
Set up - Matt Moore, Andy Sonnanstine, Alex Cobb, Jake McGee, Jason Hammel, Jose Veras

Notable Bench Players

The Rays have a couple of decent bats off the bench in Delmon Young, Matt Diaz, Jonny Gomes and Jorge Cantu.

What's Good?

Crawford and Hamilton to go along with Longoria, Upton and Jennings? That helps, that's for sure. The rotation is exactly the same -- and that's a good thing. You've also got Moore sitting there. The starters are an embarrassment of riches. It's one of the main reasons the Rays can still compete in the AL East with a smaller payroll.

What's Not?

The bottom half of the lineup isn't great -- especially with Johnson at short. But there's enough help at the top of the lineup to make up for the bottom. The bench isn't deep defensively, but it's the American League so you don't need quite as much as you do in the National League. The bullpen isn't full of experienced relievers, but there are some quality arms that can switch from starting to relieving.

Comparison to real 2011

The same pitching staff plus Crawford and Hamilton make up for losing some of its Frankenstein bullpen and Johnny Damon. I put Hamilton at DH to try to save some wear and tear on his body, he can still play in the field every once in a while and give Jennings a day off and have someone like Young DH. Or Young can play in the outfield. The bullpen might be the most interesting question, but I think the offense and the starting pitching are enough to improve, if slightly, on the team's 91-71 finish.

Next: Philadelphia Phillies

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 24, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: November 24, 2011 2:06 pm
 

Reports: Yankees, Freddy Garcia agree to new deal

Freddy Garcia

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Could the Yankees' rotation for 2012 bear a striking resemblance to 2011?

The team has agreed to a one-year deal with right-hander Freddy Garcia, ESPN.com's Buster Olney writes, noting the team may not add another starter -- or at least one it will count on to make its rotation. Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweets the deal is worth $5 million.

With Garcia's expected signing, the Yankees could pencil in a rotation of CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, A.J. Burnett, Garcia and Phil Hughes. That's not too much different from 2011, although the team could still look through the scrap heap like it did last offseason when it signed Garcia and Bartolo Colon.

While the Yankees' rotation was its weak spot, it wasn't so weak that it stopped New York from winning baseball's toughest division. The team could go into the 2012 season with this rotation and look to acquire a starter at the deadline. Some of the more interesting names scheduled for free agency after the 2012 season -- meaning they could be trade bait at the deadline -- include Zack Greinke, Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano, while another group has team options, including Dan Haren, Jake Peavy, Ervin Santana, Fausto Carmona, Jorge De La Rosa, Tim Hudson and James Shields.

It will be interesting to see how the new free agency compensation rules change the way teams approach their free-agent players.

New York offered Garcia arbitration on Wednesday. The 35-year-old was 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA in 26 games in 2011, including 25 starts. Garcia struck out 5.9 batters per nine innings (96 strikeouts in 146 2/3 innings) and had a 4.36 xFIP (fielding independent pitching, normalized for park factors). He made $1.5 million in 2011.

Follow the latest free agent moves with the CBSSports.com Free Agent Tracker.

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Posted on: November 15, 2011 4:53 pm
 

No shame in losing for stellar trio of starters



By Matt Snyder


We've all heard the old cliche and even said it from time to time: No one remembers who finishes second.

In the case of the American League Cy Young, it's really a shame that the sentiment is likely to apply in a few years, because Justin Verlander's season for the ages completely overshadowed special seasons from Jered Weaver and James Shields while again ensuring CC Sabathia's great effort was buried in the voting.

Sabathia has absolutely carried the Yankees' pitching staff in his three season in the Bronx. His average season has been 20-8 with a 3.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 209 strikeouts in 235 innings pitched. That's a career year for almost any other pitcher, and, again, that's his three-year average. And he hasn't finished higher in Cy Young voting than third. This season, it was fourth place and you'd be hard pressed to argue he should be higher. While Sabathia had an excellent year, it was a special season for three different pitchers.

AL Cy Young
If you want to focus on wins and losses while disregarding all other stats, you might scoff at the mention of James Shields with this group. He was 16-12. Look deeper, though: His ERA was 2.82, his WHIP was 1.04 and he struck out 225 guys in a whopping 249 1/3 innings. And the biggest factor of all here is the complete games. Pitching a complete game does so much more for a team than any stat can measure. The manager can rest easy with a relatively stress-free day. The defense stays in rhythm without having to stand around during pitching changes and the bullpen gets a full day of rest, which translates to better performance in the following several games. And Shields threw an insane 11 complete games in 33 starts. Yes, once every three times out, he completed the job he started. No other AL pitcher had more than five. No NL pitcher had more than eight. No one has had as many as 11 complete games since Randy Johnson had 12 in 1999.

Shields still wasn't as dominant as Weaver, though. The AL All-Star Game starter went 18-8 with a 2.41 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 198 strikeouts in 235 2/3 innings. He started the season with a six-start stretch where he was 6-0 with a 0.99 ERA and more strikeouts than innings pitched. He had an eight-start stretch in June and July where he went 7-0 with a 1.04 ERA. And he closed with a 1.84 ERA in his last four starts. In many other seasons, Weaver would have been named the Cy Young winner, sometimes in runaway fashion.

But not this one, because Justin Verlander was that damn good. Let's remember that while also not forgetting about the seasons put together by Weaver, Shields and Sabathia. They were too great to simply be forgotten.

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Posted on: October 31, 2011 8:19 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 8:49 pm
 

Price opts for arbitration, Rays rope in Shields

Shields

By Evan Brunell


The Rays made three moves to shape their 2012 team on Monday, bringing back starting pitcher James Shields and closer Kyle Farnsworth while cutting ties with catcher Kelly Shoppach.

Starting pitcher David Price also rejected a player option on his contract, signed when he was first drafted in 2007. Price was set to make $1.5 million in 2012 had he not been arbitration-eligible, but thanks to qualifying for Super 2 arbitration status, he gained the right to opt out. Price will easily do far better than $1.5 million in arbitration, especially since he earned just over $2 million in free agency. He could see quite the jump and there is the chance he could clear $5 million in arbitration.

The team does have a record of giving their young stars long-term deals, so this could hurry along a long-term deal between both sides. Tampa would likely love to lock Price up for at least the next four years (as he's tied to the team for that length anyways) in exchange for locking in what he will make over the next four years and receiving a bit of a discount as well, given the club will be guaranteeing the next four years as opposed to going year by year. Of course, Price could decline and take the risk that his arm and effectiveness holds up. Going through the arbitration year by year would certainly maximize the lefty's salary, but again, it comes at significant sik.

More Free Agency
Position rankings
The Rays freed up some money for Price in declining Shoppach's option, although the club is interested in bringing him back. The baclstop will get a $300,000 buyout instead of receiving $3.2 million in 2012 salary. That was a no-brainer, as Shoppach's power disappeared, hitting a paltry .178/.268/.339 in 253 at bats. This is a man who once hit 21 homers (in 2008), though, so he will have several suitors. He also has a reputation for strong work behind the plate.

In other news, two linchpins of the pitching staff are back. Ace James Shields, who made his first All-Star team and led the bigs with 11 complete games, returns for $7.5 million (with an extra $500,000 due depending on Cy Young balloting) in 2012. It's possible that Shields will be dangled on the trade market, as the Rays will be looking to capitalize on his big year, save cash and integrate Matt Moore into the rotation.

"Im glad it's over with," Shields (pictured) told the St. Petersburg Times. "I had some confidence they were going to pick my option up. What I did this last season, I think it definitely helped the cause out a little bit. Other than that, it's kind of one of those things where it's always nice to know I was in their plans."

Farnsworth broke out in a big way in Tampa, serving as closer for the season and nailing down 25 saves, posting a 2.18 ERA in the meantime. The 35-year-old seems to only get better with age, and exercising his $3.3 million option was a no-brainer. He struggled down the stretch with elbow discomfort, but is still the favorite for saves in Tampa next season.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 4:48 pm
 

Players association announces award nominees

By C. Trent Rosecrans

For those who love to debate awards selections, the players association has announced its finalist for the Players Choice Awards, voted on by the players. The winners will be announced Nov. 3 on MLB Network.

So, because you can't wait, here are your nominees:

American League
Outstanding player: Jose Bautista (Blue Jays), Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox), Curtis Granderson (Yankees)
Outstanding pitcher: James Shields (Rays), Justin Verlander (Tigers), Jered Weaver (Angels)
Outstanding rookie: Jeremy Hellickson (Rays), Eric Hosmer (Royals), Mark Trumbo (Angels)
Comeback player: Bartolo Colon (Yankees), Jacony Ellsbury (Red Sox), Casey Kotchman (Rays)

National League
Outstanding player: Ryan Braun (Brewers), Matt Kemp (Dodgers), Justin Upton (Diamondbacks)
Outstanding pitcher: Roy Halladay (Phillies), Ian Kennedy (Diamondbacks), Clayton Kershow (Dodgers)
Outstanding rookie: Freddie Freeman (Braves), Craig Kimbrel (Braves), Vance Worley (Phillies)
Comeback player: Lance Berkman (Cardinals), Jose Reyes (Mets), Ryan Vogelsong (Giants)

Overall
Player of the Year: Gonzalez, Granderson, Verlander
Man of the Year: Paul Konerko (White Sox), Adam Wainwright (Cardinals), Michael Young (Rangers)

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Posted on: October 4, 2011 7:19 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 11:09 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

RaysBy Evan Brunell

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s
R.I.P. series...

Team name: Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 91-71, 2nd place AL East, 6 games back. Wild card champions, lost to Rangers 3 games to 1 in ALDS
Manager: Joe Maddon
Best hitter: Ben Zobrist -- .269/.353/.469, 20 HR, 99 RBI
Best pitcher: James Shields -- 16-12, 249 1/3 IP, 11 CG, 4 SHO, 2.82 ERA, 65 BB, 225 K

The Rays have now reached the postseason two years in a row, but dropped its second straight ALDS to the Rangers, making it to four games before the season ended. It was a remarkable run for a team that had to remake its bullpen and replace Carl Crawford in left field.

2011 SEASON RECAP

Tampa began the season as an afterthought in the eyes of many. After all, how were the Rays supposed to contend with New York and the revamped Red Sox? That didn't stop the team from producing, though, posting a record over .500 each of the first three months. The team got quite a bit of attention in April when Manny Ramirez retired instead of serving his 100-game suspension for failing a drug test for the second time. They weathered it though, despite losing someone that was supposed to be integral to the lineup. Sam Fuld dazzled the team for a while, but the Rays limped through the season offensively until Desmond Jennings was promoted in late July.

July wasn't kind to Tampa, finishing with a 11-15 record but they turned on the jets after that, going 35-20 and winning the wild card on the last swing of the regular season, with Evan Longoria's homer disappearing over the fence minutes after the Red Sox completed their collapse.

2012 AUDIT

The Rays have a decent amount of overturn coming, set to lose two starters from their lineup in Casey Kotchman and Johnny Damon. Backstop Kelly Shoppach and reliever Juan Cruz also played integral roles, but the important thing to notice here is that none of Tampa's important players are free agents. That's huge, and while the Rays will doubtless be making some moves -- and if you see below, I have them making two significant trades -- they should enter 2012 with a team fairly recognizable from this year. This is a team poised to contend, and the riches in the minors will keep on boosting the team. Their postseason may have been cut short, but they'll be back plenty of times in the coming seasons.

FREE AGENTS

RP Juan Cruz
DH Johnny Damon
RP Kyle Farnsworth ($3.3 million club option)
1B Casey Kotchman
C Kelly Shoppach ($3.2 million club option)

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • The Rays need to make room in the rotation for Matt Moore and fielded calls on James Shields this trade deadline. They need to field more calls and deal him to Cincinnati for first baseman Yonder Alonso, backstop Ryan Hanigan and a pitcher. Alonso can step in at first or DH, Hanigan can step in as the backstop and the pitcher can either be a back-end starting pitcher -- which Cincy has plenty of -- or a solid reliever. The move would give the Rays cost-control over Alonso for years and inject some thump into a lineup that could use another strong hitter.
  • Let Kelly Shoppach go and wait on Casey Kotchman and Johnny Damon's market. Shoppach could be brought back on a smaller deal, but $3.2 million is too much for someone who hit .176/.288/.339, and fell under .200 in batting average for the second straight year. Similarly, Kotchman had a solid season with the bat but the Rays shouldn't rush to pay him, as there's a reason he's bounced from team to team. Let the market dictate Kotchman's price, then maybe you entertain bringing him back. The same applies for Damon. If the price is right on either, one of them can return to play first or DH opposite Alonso.
  • Trade B.J. Upton to the Nationals for Ian Desmond and Roger Bernadina. Upton just can't justify his salary anymore on the Rays, and the Nationals have big interest in Upton. Desmond can fix the shortstop hole in Tampa, while Sean Rodriguez, Ben Zobrist and Bernadina can help fill the hole in the outfield left by Upton's departure.
  • Pick up Kyle Farnsworth's option and use the money saved from Shields and Upton to sign Mike Gonzalez. The Rays need a shutdown lefty in the bullpen, and Gonzalez can be that man. J.P. Howell used to be, but coming off a bad year, you need another, reliable, lefty in the bullpen. Then, use the rest of the money to bring back Kotchman or Damon, or go after someone like Jason Kubel.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 1, 2011 10:47 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 10:49 pm
 

Shields implodes in fourth as Rays fall

Shields

By Evan Brunell

James Shields was among the best pitchers in baseball all year, and entered Saturday having posted a 2.82 ERA on the season. He also had the honor of being the first pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1992 to record 11 complete games and four shutouts in a season, but it was all for naught on Saturday. Shields was rocked for seven runs in five-plus innings, with the big blow coming in a five-run fourth.

Shields was spot-on for much of the game, whiffing six batters in all and issuing zero walks, but imploded in the fourth inning, which was complicated by home plate umpire Kerwin Danley's blown call. Danley wasn't biting on calling the low strike, which led to some close calls and forced Shields to elevate his pitches right into the heart of the strike zone. But he began the fourth with a surprising loss of control, plunking Elvis Andrus with a pitch.

More LDS Coverage
Josh Hamilton and Michael Young then both singled to load the bases. Shields then plunked yet another batter, this time Adrian Beltre. That forced in a run and got Rangers fans going, who had so far been silenced by Shields and staring at a 3-0 hole after Derek Holland began the game with his own jitters. Shields was able to strike out Nelson Cruz, but then came the blown call by Kerwin Danley, which was enough to land Danley as the goat of the game. David Murphy hit a ball straight down at home plate and Danley called it foul before the play was even over. The ball bounced fair, allowing Kelly Shoppach to pounce on it and throw Murphy out.. except the play had already been ruled dead. Murphy went on to strike out, but it was in the process of Shields throwing a wild pitch, so Murphy reached while Beltre scored. A RBI groundout by Mitch Moreland followed before Shields finally got to walk off the mound after inducing a flyout by Ian Kinsler.

It looked like Shields was getting back on track with a clean fifth inning, but two consecutive singles to open the inning sent Shields to the showers. Texas would go on to score twice in the inning, both runs charged to the righty. It was certainly a surprising performance by Shields, who began the game crisp but later unraveled at the seams.

Shields has been here before. Last season, he faced the Rangers in Game 2 of the ALDS as well, and served up four runs in 4 1/3 innings. In that game, Shields' big inning came in the fifth when he allowed a three-run homer to Michael Young and later an Ian Kinsler RBI grounder before his night ended.

Shields lasted longer than he did in 2010, but unfortunately the end result was the same: An ALDS Game 2 loss.

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Posted on: October 1, 2011 10:36 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 12:19 am
 

Instant Reaction: Rangers 8, Rays 6



By Evan Brunell

ALDS Game 2: Rangers 8, Rays 6

WP: Derek Holland

LP: James Shields

S: Neftali Feliz

HR: TB - Evan Longoria, Matt Joyce | TEX - Mitch Moreland

Series: Rays 1, Rangers 1 in best-of-5

Hero: It was a rather balanced offensive attack for the Rangers, but Mitch Moreland deserves the honors here. Texas jumped out ahead thanks to a five-run fourth inning and looked to be wrapping up the game in the seventh, ahead by a 7-3 score. However, Evan Longoria changed things by blasting a three-run homer and pulling Tampa Bay within one. It was a tight ballgame again, but Moreland brought down the anxiety level in Texas by cranking a homer for a much-needed insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Moreland also had a RBI groundout to cap the scoring in the fourth and ended the night with two RBI.

Goat: Home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley may have changed the outcome of the game and series as a whole when he jumped the gun in the fourth inning. With James Shields struggling, two runs in and runners on second and third, the righty really needed an out to stamp out the fire. He almost registered the second out of the inning when Kelly Shoppach pounced on a dribbler in front of home plate and easily threw out David Murphy -- or he would have, had Danley not called the ball foul already. The ball had come off the bat straight down in foul territory but bounced into fair territory, which means it should have counted. Murphy would go on to strike out, but reached on a wild pitch that scored another run. One more would cross before it was all over, and the Rangers' five-run inning set the tone for the rest of the game. No one's saying the Rays would have won without that miscue -- after all, the game was tied at that point and Shields was imploding -- but to make that kind of error with the stakes as high as they are is inexcusable. An extra couple seconds would have made the difference. You don't need to call a ball foul that fast, especially when it's at home plate. Most umpires -- most competent ones -- move out from their stance and attempt to get a visual on the ball from the side before calling it fair or foul. Danley just didn't bother.

Update: Joe Maddon reported that Danley's case was that Murphy's bat hit the ball a second time. (@jasoncollette)

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Rangers-Rays series | 2011 playoffs

Video: Ian Kinsler, Mike Napoli talk about the win

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com