Posts tagged ‘Joe Maddon’

2011 Rays Projections: Johnny Damon

After his worst season since 2001, 37 year old Johnny Damon signed a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $5.25M with another $750K in attendance incentives. A large reason his numbers, especially on the power side, were down was because he posted a career low (since records were taken in 2002) HR/FB rate of 4.8%, almost half his career mark. That could be fluke or sign of age catching up to him. I think it’s somewhere in-between.

Damon’s patient eye and good on-base skills have still been solid and age has yet to fully catch that aspect of his game but I still see his 2010 as more his norm going forward than his 2009. With Joe Maddon, the master of the match-up, now Damon’s manager, we should see Damon in more situations to help him rather than hurt him and I think we will see a slight bump in his totals from 2010 but not a major one. Take a look:

 Stat  Total
 AVG  .276
 OBP  .354
 SLG  .422
 OPS  .766
 Plate App.  587
 At-Bats  519
 Hits  143
 Homeruns  13
 Doubles  31
 Triples  3
 BB  64
 SO  86
 SB  16
 UZR  +0

 

Not exactly the numbers I want from my starting leftfielder but still not bad. That should be good, depending on how much time he spends at DH, for 1.5-2.0 fWAR. Damon also brings with him a certain style and relaxed flow that should be good for the clubhouse, and yes, the fans. Yes, I know intangibles are mocked in the stat world I live in but I do believe there are some that are legit and Damon possesses some. Are they worth a ton? No, but they do help. Damon should easily pay for his own contract with his numbers and then some but don’t look for a return to his 2009 form.

March 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

Why Not Leadoff With Manny Ramirez?


(AP Photo/Dave Martin)

It doesn’t matter where I hit. I’m Manny Ramirez, so it doesn’t matter.” – Manny Ramirez on MLB.com (Ian Browne, 05/15/2005)

Rays manager Joe Maddon had new offensive weapon Manny Ramirez in the leadoff spot yesterday to get him at-bats in early before the weekend. This launched a run of jokes and actual misunderstandings about what a leadoff hitter should be when it was announced.

A lot of tweets joking about Manny’s ability to bunt for hits and steal bases were made, and it got me realizing that a lot of people do not understand what a leadoff hitter should be.

This same kind of thing happened last year when Maddon decided to bat John Jaso in the leadoff spot. You would have thought people actually believed that Joe Maddon lost his mind and needed to find it. Maddon proved to be correct when Jaso finished the season leading all players with a .380 OBP from the leadoff spot.

In a twitter conversation with R.J. Anderson and a few others there does appear to be growing concern among some that Jaso could see some regression if he does not learn to hit for higher than a .270 AVG that is loaded with mostly singles. If he cannot then Major League pitchers will catch on and do nothing but throw him strikes, forcing his hand at putting more balls in play (career .281 BABIP) and reducing his walk rates, which he lives by. If this happens he may be dropped to the bottom of the Rays order.

B.J. Upton has the leadoff spot against left-handers secured but struggled mightily against right-handers. So who will leadoff against right-handers if Jaso does regress? Ben Zobrist is a great option but why not Manny?

Over the past three seasons Manny Ramirez has posted a .428 OBP against right-handed pitchers as opposed to a .396 OBP against left-handers, not that there is anything wrong with that. Last year was his worst of the three seasons and he still posted a .404 OBP against RHPs.

Many’s power is on the decline with his ISO going from .270-to-.241-to-.162 from 2008-2010. Why not utilize his best weapon right now? Contrary to popular belief and what Mitch Williams may say on MLB Network, the leadoff spot is not reserved for speedy slap hitters who force the thirdbaseman in because their bunt is more potent a weapon than their power. The leadoff spot is meant to give high percentage on-base players a spot where he can get the most chances to get on-base.

Maddon’s decision to bat Manny leadoff was said to get him early at-bats but who knows, maybe we will see Manny bat there in the regular? If there is a manager out there that will bunk conventional wisdom it’s Joe Maddon and Manny was right in 2005, it doesn’t matter where he hits, and that includes leadoff.

March 12, 2011 at 9:02 am 3 comments

2011 Rays Projections: Sean Rodriguez

Rays manager Joe Maddon loves versatility and the good thing for him is that he has it. Sean Rodriguez is one of the most versatile players on the team. In 2009 he saw action at every single position except catcher and posted positive UZRs at all positions except thirdbase. In fact, he was listed as the team’s emergency catcher. He possesses very good instincts and range and a has great arm for a middle infielder.

No one has ever really doubted his fielding ability. He has a career UZR of 8.0 in just under 1500 innings, or roughly one full 162 game season. He has played exceptionally well at secondbase and shortstop and will be the team’s shortstop in most games against left-handed pitchers.

Rodriguez has also always shown that he can hit for power, especially for a middle infielder. While his ISO was league-average last year his ISO in the minors in 2008 and 2009 were an outstanding .339 and .314 . Will the power translate to the Majors? Rays fans are hoping so but there are few things holding him back.

What’s holding Rodriguez back is his lack of discipline and pitch recognition. He walked only 5.6% of the time (2.9% against right-handers) in 2010 and had a wSL of -7.0 and wCB of -4.3, while swinging at 30.4% of pitches outside of the strike zone. If Rodriguez is to take his game to the next level he needs to learn a little patience and pitch recognition.

With that, here are my 2011 projections for him:

 Stat Total
 AVG  .259
 OBP  .315
 SLG  .435
 OPS  .750
 Plate App.  495
 At-Bats  451
 Hits  117
 Homeruns  15
 Doubles  28
 Triples  3
 BB  33
 SO  126
 SB  16
 UZR  +7

 

These projections equals roughly a 2.5-2.7 fWAR player and the Rays will be pleased if he posts numbers similar to these in 2011 especially knowing that Rodriguez has the ability and the playing time coming his way to eclipse these totals.

March 7, 2011 at 11:47 am Leave a comment

No Room for Kotchman on Rays Roster

Photobucket
(Photo by Jonathan C. Mitchell)

The Rays are stacked deep at almost every position except first base. The same question is always brought up: Who will play firstbase for the Rays in 2011? Will it be the unproven Dan Johnson? How about using Ben Zobrist but at the expense of his valuable glove playing 2B and RF? I laugh at those who mention Leslie Anderson. But one other choice that is brought up is Casey Kotchman, and one thing is for sure he does not belong on a contending team as a starting firstbaseman.

Kotchman has had four seasons in his career with at least 125 games played and over 430 plate appearances. Only once in those four seasons has he posted a BB% higher than 9%, a wRC above league average, an OPS+ above league average, and a wOBA above .325. In fact, his stats have declined to the point where last year he was worth -1.1 fWAR and -0.9 rWAR. Take a look at his declining stats:

 Stat  2007  2008  2009  2010
 AVG  .296  .272  .268  .217
 OBP  .372  .328   .339  .280
 SLG  .467  .410  .382  .336
 ISO  .172  .137  .114  .118
 OPS+  119  93  90  73
 wRC+  120  97  92  66
 wOBA  .362  .322  .317  .270
 fWAR  +3.3  +1.8  +1.0  -1.1
 rWAR  +3.1  +1.1  +1.5  -0.9
 UZR  12.6  11.7  7.8  -0.4

 

Even his “bread-n-butter” defense was of negative value last season and if you were to take the average of those four seasons you would get a firstbaseman that would hit .264/.331/.401 with a 95 OPS+ and 1.2 rWAR and 1.25 fWAR, and there is no reason to believe Kotchman could put those numbers up in the AL East after declining each of the past three seasons.

The Rays will be best served by giving the firstbase job to Dan Johnson and letting Joe Maddon use the versatile Ben Zobrist to back him up, thus allowing Sean Rodriguez and Matt Joyce to get playing time at their respected positions. Having Kotchman on the roster kills the chances of Rodriguez and Joyce finding ample playing time. There simply is no room for Kotchman on the Rays roster.

March 5, 2011 at 7:53 pm 2 comments


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