Tag:Kelly Shoppach
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:06 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 7:18 pm
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Red Sox ink Shoppach, Varitek very likely gone

By Matt Snyder

The assumption throughout the entire offseason was that Jason Varitek's 15-season stint with the Boston Red Sox was over, and it seems pretty official now. The Red Sox have signed Kelly Shoppach to a one-year deal. Multiple outlets are reporting (WEEI.com) that it's a $1.35 million contract. Shoppach is to serve as the backup to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Hot Stove Tuesday
Shoppach, 31, has been mired below the Mendoza line the past two seasons, hitting .196 in 2010 and .176 last season. He does have power, as he hit 11 home runs in 253 plate appearances last season and once hit 21 in a season for the Indians. The most important thing, however, is that Shoppach had an MLB-best 41 percent caught stealing percentage from behind the plate. Contrast that to dreadful 14 percent Varitek threw out, and it's easy to see why this move was made.

Keep in mind, 24-year-old Ryan Lavarnway is also providing organizational depth. He made his big-league debut last season and hit .290/.376/.563 with 32 home runs and 93 RBI in 503 plate appearances across Double-A and Triple-A. So Shoppach backs up Saltalamacchia to open the season while Lavarnway continues to grow in Triple-A, meanwhile the Red Sox can promote him when they see fit. The smart money is on Shoppach only being with the Red Sox for this one year and Lavarnway figures heavily into plans in 2013, assuming he doesn't have any setbacks. 

Varitek is a three-time All-Star and had served as the Red Sox team captain for years. He was a regular starter on the 2004 and 2007 World Series champion teams. At 39, though, he's definitely in the twilight of his playing career. It's possible some other team picks him up as a backup, but his days as a useful regular are long since past and he could very well be forced to retire.

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Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:02 am
Edited on: December 13, 2011 12:24 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Boston Red Sox



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional?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.

One of the main reasons we came up with this exercise was because of the massive amount of fighting in the comments sections over who "buys" their teams instead of drafting and developing their own talent. In some cases, the accusations are true. In others, they aren't. While these Red Sox don't have Adrian Gonzalez or David Ortiz or Josh Beckett, you'll certainly see several key, familiar names.

Lineup

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
4. Hanley Ramirez, DH
5. David Murphy, LF
6. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
7. Jed Lowrie, SS
8. Kelly Shoppach, C
9. Josh Reddick, RF

Starting Rotation

1. Jon Lester
2. Clay Buchholz
3. Justin Masterson
4. Anibal Sanchez
5. Carl Pavano

Bullpen

Closer - Jonathan Papelbon
Set up - Daniel Bard, Rafael Betancourt, Frank Francisco, Hideki Okajima
Long - Kyle Weiland, Daisuke Matsuzaka? (Not sure I could stomach that ... )

Notable Bench Players

Ryan Lavarnway, Lars Anderson, Freddy Sanchez, Engel Beltre

What's Good?

The top of the order is sick. If Hanley Ramirez had one of his good years, that's a top four that few in baseball could match. The entire pitching staff is really, really strong, too. Lester as an ace works fine and Masterson and Sanchez are pretty darn good in those slots. There was one point last season (May) when Sanchez was almost as good as anyone. Then you move into the bullpen and the back-end is what it was in 2011, with Bard and Papelbon. Here, though, we get to add Betancourt and Francisco to the mix. That's quite a bridge to Papelbon, and remember, this with a good rotation.

What's Not?

The lineup thins out quickly. It's not awful by any stretch, because Lowrie, Shoppach and Reddick are a decent 7-9, but Murphy isn't good enough to be a fifth hitter in a great lineup and we still can't be sure how Rizzo pans out. Also, there is no depth, either on the bench or in the bullpen. The onus is entirely on the main guys to shoulder the entire workload.

Comparison to real 2011

Let's avoid all the off-field crap and just focus on the issue at hand. Is this team better than the one that was in the AL playoff race until the final out of the season? The offense isn't as good, that's for sure. Most of the other spots are at least close, but the Rizzo/Gonzalez gap at first base is gigantic. Pitching-wise, though, this group is better, top to bottom. There's no Josh Beckett, but there also isn't a full season of John Lackey with mixed in Dice-K and then the spare-part injury replacements they had to use for most of the season. The real-life Red Sox won 90 games and this group feels like a similar one in terms of wins. It's not elite, but it's pretty good.

Next: Detroit Tigers

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 12:02 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Free-agent position rankings: Thin catcher crop

Molina, Hernandez, Barajas

By Evan Brunell


The catcher's market is extraordinarily bad, and will get even worse once the top name on the board comes off. Yadier Molina is the obvious class of the market, but he has a club option and it's going to be very difficult to envision the Cards not picking it up. After that, the pickings are slim with one obvious candidate for best backstop, but even he isn't excellent. If teams are looking for an upgrade at catcher, they'd be advised to look elsewhere.

Molina1. Yadier Molina: Molina is the class of the free-agent market, but it would be shocking if the Cardinals didn't at the very least pick up Molina's $7 million option. Molina is a wizard defensively and enjoyed his best offensive season at age 29, hitting .305/.349/.465 in 518 plate appearances with 14 homers. It's anyone's guess if Molina can keep up this kind of production, but if he does, it puts him in a very rare class, indeed. If Molina sinks back to previous levels, he's still among the best catchers in the league. If St. Louis improbably lets him walk, several big-market teams will be extremely interested.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Phillies

Hernandez2. Ramon Hernandez: Barring a surprise and Molina hitting the market, Hernandez will be the class of the catcher's market... and really, that's not saying much. Don't get me wrong, Hernandez is a quality catcher. But he's also 35 and hasn't reached triple digits in games caught for three straight seasons, so he better profiles as a caddy. He could be headed to the AL where he could toggle between catcher, DH and first base. The Reds may even be interested in bringing Hernandez back to oversee Devin Mesoraco's development, although the team will likely stick with Ryan Hanigan. As a Type-A free agent, Hernandez could bring back an elite prospect for Cincinnati should he decline arbitration. It's possible he and the team have a deal whereupon Hernandez will reject arbitration, but that will chill his market as teams won't be willing to give up top picks for someone like Hernandez.
Potential teams
: Dodgers, Red Sox, Reds, Marlins, Royals, Pirates, Rays

Barajas3. Rod Barajas: Barajas isn't anyone's idea of a quality catcher but with so few available in free agency, Barajas is rated high virtually by default. He does have some pop and could bang 20 homers given a full season's worth of at-bats, but he also can't get on base to save his life either. In such a poor market, Barajas will land somewhere, but he's just not anyone's idea of a strong catcher. That could lead some clubs in the market for catching to play more aggressively on the trade market once Hernandez comes off the board. The Dodgers might bring him back, but seem more interested in an A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz pairing.
Potential teams
: Dodgers, Marlins, Astros, Pirates, Royals, Rays

Doumit4. Ryan Doumit: Doumit's in a tough spot. On one hand, this is a guy that can rove all over the diamond and is able to catch, too. That's valuable. He can also hit -- the 30-year-old cranked out a .303/.353/.377 line when he was able to get in the lineup. The negative, though, is that Doumit has been plagued with injuries and his defense is so poor behind the dish that he gets exposed over a full season. Still, with the catcher's market as poor as it is, and his ability to play first and right, he should attract some interest from a team interested in using him all over the field. Heck, even a team with little to no catching could stick him behind the plate all season.
Potential teams
: Astros, Royals, Pirates, Twins, White Sox, Athletics, Mariners, Cubs, Dodgers

Posada5. Jorge Posada: Posada spent all season DHing for the Yankees, but this is a guy whose heart still belongs behind the plate. He may be able to find a spot, but it's probably only going to be a bench player who can fill in at catcher, first and DH. Posada doesn't quite deserve full playing time, but he did hit right-handers well and could work in a platoon situation. Still, his market might be so weak, or his options so limited and unappetizing that he may simply opt for retirement.
Potential teams
: Orioles, Royals, Athletics, Marlins, Dodgers

Snyder6. Chris Snyder: Snyder is a pretty good catcher, he just can't seem to catch a break. After three consecutive solid years in Arizona and inking a three-year deal prior to his last good year, Snyder was one of the better catchers in the game. Alas, injuries and ineffectiveness caused him to be a salary dump just a year and a half after inking his lucrative extension. This season, in Pittsburgh, he looked like he was recovering his lost value... until he was felled by injury. He'll draw interest from teams looking for a low-risk, high-upside investment. At worst, Snyder is a quality backup.
Potential teams
: Red Sox, Pirates, Brewers, Reds, Cubs, Astros, Rockies, Mariners, Twins

Shoppach7. Kelly Shoppach: Shoppach had a beyond-awful year offensively, the second straight year he's done so. And yet... that power bat is awfully tantalizing from a catcher. It's tough to tell whether or not Shoppach can recover to be a catcher who can slug 20 homers, but he's a lot more exciting than the likes of Barajas and Posada, especially to teams that might be looking to capture a bit more upside at the expense of instant production.
Potential teams
: Rays, Pirates, Royals, Mariners, Astros
Rodriguez
8. Ivan Rodriguez
: OK, we're really getting into the dregs here. Rodriguez would love a chance to get hit No. 3,000, so given he already has a World Series ring, might prefer to go somewhere where he can get the bulk of the starts and march toward 3,000, just 156 away. With a good year, he could reach it. At the same time, Rodriguez can reach that mark over a period of a couple seasons, and with his leadership and defense should hang on for a couple more years. Here's betting he goes after a starting job to all but ensure reaching No. 3,000 even if he doesn't do so this year, but we'll list a couple places he could land as a backup.
Potential teams
: Royals, Astros, Phillies, Brewers, White Sox, Rays

Laird9. Gerald Laird: Laird is coming off a solid year with the Cardinals. There isn't much to know about Laird -- he's a strong defender who struggles with the bat. He's pretty much settled into the backup phase of his career and there are so many options when you get this low in the market. Laird will probably return to St. Louis, and it seems like both sides have been a good match, but really, he could go anywhere.
Potential teams
: Cardinals, any other team

10. Jason Varitek
: The Captain may have seen his time run out in Boston. If so, it's doubtful that 'Tek will play for another team. Varitek has all the money he could ever need and two World Series rings. He doesn't need to play out the string for a lousy team. The only way Varitek will return is if it's in Boston, potentially hometown Atlanta (if they trade backstop David Ross) or if another team throws enough money at him (not happening). Varitek's bat is largely gone, but his power still shows up from time to time. He's never had a good arm, but his ability to work with pitchers and game preparation is unmatched.
Potential teams
: Red Sox, Braves

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

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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.
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Posted on: October 1, 2011 4:31 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 10:46 pm
 

ALDS Game 2: Rangers play catch-up against Rays

Shields

By Evan Brunell

Rays at Rangers, 7:07 p.m. ET, Rangers Ballpark, TNT

Rays Rangers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Desmond Jennings LF 1 Ian Kinsler 2B
2 B.J. Upton  CF 2 Elvis Andrus  SS
3 Evan Longoria  3B 3 Josh Hamilton  CF
4 Ben Zobrist  2B 4 Michael Young  DH
5 Johnny Damon  DH 5 Adrian Beltre  3B
6 Kelly Shoppach  C 6 Mike Napoli  C
7 Sean Rodriguez  SS 7 Nelson Cruz  RF
8 Casey Kotchman  1B 8 David Murphy  LF
9 Matt Joyce  RF 9 Mitch Moreland 1B

James Shields RHP
Derek Holland LHP

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Shields vs. Rangers: Shields' calling card this year has been an innate ability to complete games, shutting the door a league-leading 11 times. One of those complete games came against Texas, fresh off facing the club five days prior and going eight strong with no runs allowed. In the complete game on Sept. 5, he allowed just one run. So that's one run in 17 innings, striking out 13. Not shabby at all. All year long, Texas has tested the patience of left-handed pitchers, but are more vulnerable against righties. To that end, Murphy and Moreland, who don't play against lefties, are in the lineup against Shields.

Holland vs. Rays: Holland closed the regular season in fine fashion, sporting a 2.77 ERA over his final 16 starts. Unfortunately, his time against the Rays left much to be desired, giving up eight runs in 12 1/3 innings, walking six. The bright spot? He whiffed 16. In his most recent start against Tampa, Holland allowed four runs (three earned) in 6 2/3 innings, setting down nine Rays by way of the K. Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist have raked the left-hander over the coals the last three years.

NOTES

Full Playoff Coverage
  • Manager Ron Washington wouldn't commit to starting Moreland against right-handed pitchers, but has slotted him into the lineup. Unfortunately for Moreland, he's only collected one hit in 11 career at-bats against Shields, striking out four times.
  • Kelly Shoppach's two homers and five RBI in Game 1 put him in exalted company. Only one other catcher has notched at least two blasts and 5 RBI in a postseason game, Johnny Bench of the Reds accomplishing the feat in Game 4 of the 1976 World Series. (Elias Sports Bureau)
  • In the 2011 ALDS, the Rays fell to the Rangers in five games, with the visiting team winning each game, a record. The trend continued Friday when Tampa took Game 1 in Texas.
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Posted on: September 30, 2011 8:52 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 10:46 pm
 

C.J. Wilson blasted for eight runs in Game 1

Wilson

By Evan Brunell

C.J. Wilson has authored one of the more impressive two-year runs in baseball, racking up 31 wins in 67 starts after beginning his career as a reliever, and later, closer. Wilson's anchoring the rotation allowed the Rangers to survive the departure of Cliff Lee, and he made the All-Star team for the first time.

Unfortunately, Wilson couldn't come through on Friday as he was blasted for eight runs, six earned, as the Rangers dropped the opening game of the ALDS, 9-0. He authored his only clean inning to start the game, setting the Rays down 1-2-3 before Johnny Damon rattled his cage with a two-run homer in the second after plunking Ben Zobrist. Wilson couldn't stop the bleeding as Kelly Shoppach went on to score on a Matt Joyce RBI single. And just like that, the Rays had a 3-0 lead.

Shoppach reared his head again the next inning, taking Wilson deep for a three-run blast to double the lead. He also added a two-run blast in the fifth to add to Wilson's misery. And unlike Wilson in Home Improvement, there was no hiding his face on the mound. It's easily the lefty's worst postseason appearance, as he made four starts last season and delivered on three of him. The stinker on Friday now supplants his six-run outing in five innings against the Yankees to lose Game 5.

Full Playoff Coverage
Wilson played with fire, veering too close to the middle of the strike zone and got burned for it. A good indication as to whether a pitcher is effective is to look at swinging strikes. How many times did a batter go after a pitch and miss? It happened just six times on Friday among Wilson's 103 pitches for a 5.8 percentage. He was at 8.3 percent the entire year. That's a difference of about three pitches, but it was enough.

What's interesting is that Wilson got first-pitch strikes on 18 of 25 batters, but five of those were in play for either a hit or an out, and 11 others were all with the batter looking. First-pitch strikes, or even strikes in general, are common for Wilson, who registered 58.5 percent of first-pitch strikes in the season. But Friday, it was all the way up to 72 percent. That should be working in Wilson's favor, not against. And yet, it clearly worked out for Tampa, who succeeded deeper in the at-bat. If that was part of the Rays' game plan, it worked splendidly.

The Rays have been playing splendidly as of late, as they've been forced to simply to eek into the playoffs. Wilson just found out just how well.

Video: Rangers manager Ron Washington reacts to the loss.



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Posted on: September 30, 2011 8:09 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 10:46 pm
 

Instant Reaction: Rays 9, Rangers 0

By Evan Brunell

Rays 9, Rangers 0

WP: Matt Moore
LP
: C.J. Wilson
HR
: Johnny Damon, Kelly Shoppach (2)

Series
: Rays lead 1-0

Hero
: Kelly Shoppach came out of nowhere to hammer two home runs. The five RBI were more than enough to send the Rays to victory.

Goat
: C.J. Wilson may have lost millions on his free-agent contract when he coughed up six runs (plus one unearned) in five innings to put Texas in a hole.

Next
: Saturday, October 1, , 7:07 p.m. at Rangers Ballpark, Arlington, Texas. RHP James Shields vs. LHP Derek Holland.

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

Video: Rays manager Joe Maddon discusses Moore's start.



Moore discusses his big win



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Posted on: September 30, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 8:30 pm
 

Shoppach blasts two HR to pace Rays in Game 1

Shoppach

By Evan Brunell

The great thing about October is that players that you may otherwise never pay attention to can completely flip the script and become household names.

In Tampa Bay, fans are crowing Shoppach's names from the rooftops after he crushed two home runs off of C.J. Wilson to send the Rays to an intimidating 8-0 lead entering the seventh inning. This after Shoppach hit .176/.268/.339 during the regular season in 253 plate appearances. Among catchers with at least 200 PAs, Shoppach had the eighth-worst OPS at .607 out of a possible 40 backstops.

And yet, here Shoppach was, behind the plate for Game 1 of the ALDS. He quickly showed Tampa just why the team acquired him prior to the 2009 season: he has power.

Shoppach blasted a three-run home run in the third to double Tampa's lead to 6-0 as C.J. Wilson struggled out of the gate. Following the homer, it looked as if Wilson was settling down, but then Adrian Beltre threw a ball high enough that Michael Young couldn't stay on the bag, allowing Johnny Damon, whose two-run homer opened the scoring in the second, to reach. That set the stage for Shoppach, who bombed a 415-footer to extend the lead to 8-0 and leave Rangers fans shell-shocked.

Read more: Rays-Rangers series | 2011 playoffs

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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