Posts tagged ‘Grant Balfour’

Fixing the Rays Need for Power

Andruw JonesRussell Branyan

The Tampa Bay Rays are going to look like a completely different team than the one that won the AL East in 2010.  Long gone are Carl Crawford, Matt Garza, Carlos Pena, Jason Bartlett, and a slew of relievers.  The Rays have already begun to rebuild the bullpen, they had Reid Brignac ready to take over at shortstop, and Jeremy Hellickson more than ready to take a rotation spot.

Replacing Crawford is the toughest task.  Crawford was tied for 3rd in the AL with 6.9 fWAR.  That will not be matched by a leftfield mix of Matt Joyce, Desmond Jennings, and Sam Fuld.

The Rays will more than likely be without Rafael Soriano and Grant Balfour at the back of the bullpen.  Soriano’s price tag is too high and I suspect Balfour’s is as well, but more on that in a moment.

The Rays have major holes at 1B, DH (although I think full-time DHs shrink a roster), and the back of the bullpen, and that is without calling leftfield a major hole at the moment.  So what do the Rays need to do?  I have a plan.

My first order of business would be to sign Russell Branyan. I have already supplied enough evidence to prove that Branyan is highly undervalued. It’s time someone took advantage of that and why not the Rays?  The misconception that Branyan is a DH is far off.  

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January 11, 2011 at 11:58 am 5 comments

Rays Need to Trade Bartlett Now

Jason Bartlett

I’m pretty sure we all know the Tampa Bay Rays’ situation by now.  In short, they are a small-market team that spent too much money last year and need to cut payroll significantly.  They cannot afford to retain top free agent Carl Crawford or All-Star closer Rafael Soriano.  They also may not be able to retain Grant Balfour and have already lost Joaquin Benoit to free agency.  Needless to say, they have holes to fill while trying to cut payroll by $25M-$30M.

One way they can cut extra cost is to trade starting shortstop Jason Bartlett.  The market for shortstops is very thin, so thin that it netted career .300 OBP Juan Uribe a 3yr/$21M deal and Miguel Tejada a $6.5M contract to be a starting shortstop.  Uribe at least has value in his bat, glove, and versatility but Tejada may be a downgrade from a Jason Bartlett.

Bartlett, after making $4M in 2010, is due for an arbitration raise of over $5M.  If his agent is smart, he will use Tejada’s deal as a starting point for negotiations.  Over the last two years Tejada has hit .291/.326/.418 with an OPS+ of 100 (league average) in 1354 plate appearances while playig mostly thirdbase.  Bartlett, in the same time frame, has hit .288/.358/.423 with an OPS+ of 111 in 1099 plate appearances while playing all his games at short.  In that same time frame Tejada has grounded into 45 double plays and stolen 7 bases while Bartlett has only grounded into 11 double plays and stolen 41 bases.  The comparisons aren’t even close, meaning the Rays may owe Bartlett much more than $5M predicted by “experts” in 2011.

The Rays seem ready to hand the starting shortstop job to Reid Brignac and, in my opinion, they should.  He is making close to the league minimum and is a much better defensive shortstop (UZR/150 of 14.0 in 2010) with more power (career ISO of .135 compared to Bartlett’s .105) and higher overall offensive upside if he learns better pitch recognition.  A full season of Brignac should yield a 2.0-2.5 fWAR season, conservatively.

The Rays deperately need bullpen help.  The Rays desperatley need to cut payroll.  In my opinion, they need to trade Bartlett now for cheap bullpen help and save the money and pray the market stays away from Grant Balfour because of his Type A status.

December 1, 2010 at 1:02 pm 1 comment


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