Jake McGee’s Future

Folks tend to imagine every pitching prospect with an explosive fastball in the bullpen. As well as David Price pitched at Vanderbilt and in the minors as a starter, there are at least a half-dozen posts in the DRB archives defending him from a bullpen position (for extended periods, not the 2008 stint). Matt Moore may receive that treatment heading forward too. It’s like human nature. See a hot fastball then commence dreaming of the one, two, three ninth innings.

Jake McGee is a bit different. McGee’s fastball is hot, so hot that it packs heat for summers at a time. During his exposure to the bigs last season, his fastball averaged 93-94 miles per hour and got up into the high-90s on occasion. Ask an old fogey, like Sternfan, about McGee. He would probably say, “Can’t teach velocity.” There is no need to lionize McGee, but the statement reigns true. McGee being a southpaw makes his heat even more enticing.
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TPR11 Foreword Author Announcement

About a month ago, I tweeted asking who folks wanted to see write the TPR11 foreword. A lot of people responded by saying Jonah Keri, who happens to have the best Rays-centric book of the year coming out in a matter of weeks. As it turns out, those people will get their wish.

Jonah researched and wrote more about the Rays over the past year than anyone else, so he’s a natural fit and we’re very honored and proud that he’d grace our little project with a foreword. For those of you unfamiliar with Jonah, he writes just about everywhere. From FanGraphs to the Wall Street Journal to Bloomberg Sports to … everywhere. He also runs a pretty entertaining podcast, which you can find here. Oh, and you can go ahead and pre-order his book if you haven’t already. It’s a must own for Rays’ fans.

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Desmond Jennings’ Role in 2011

FreeZorilla with a good look at the positives that come with starting Desmond Jennings in Triple-A. It comes down to service time and maximizing the control span. Jennings gained somewhere between three-to-four weeks of service time last season, meaning he needed to miss at least that to avoid going over a year of time this season. By keeping Jennings down through, say, June, the team can add another year of control and potentially avoid Super Two status heading forward.

Meanwhile, Jason Hanselman posted an updated WAR projection over the weekend. He’s got the team around 92 wins, which certainly seems within the realm of possibilities. The important thing about projections is remembering that the number itself is not as meaningful as the immediate range. The Rays are probably winning 89-to-95 games next season depending on how things break. That may or may not be good enough to get into the tournament, but it certainly gives the team a legit shot.

Other links:

Marc Normandin gave the Rays and Jays daps over at Red Sox Beacon.

Drew at Ghostrunner on First looked at where to bat Jose Bautista in the coming season.

The Braves’ innovative rookie development camp.

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TPR11 Late January Update

- Foreword author announcement coming soon. By the end of the week, if not the end of tomorrow.
- The mystery writer I alluded to in the last update is in. His name is Nicholas Macaluso. He’s a newcomer to this side of the Rays’ blogosphere, but he is an immensely talented writer — perhaps the most talented writer involved — and one we hope to have joining us around these parts a few times this season.
- After the jump, a chunk cut from a pre-existing chapter that covers the Rays’ success with pitching prospects.
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The Blue Jays Are Sly

While the Rays were busy securing their offense, the Toronto Blue Jays were busy freeing budgetary shackles. On Friday night, the Jays sent outfielder Vernon Wells and $5 million in cash to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera. In the process, Toronto changed their outlook in a way that does not favor the Rays.

Wells’ contract is legendarily bad. The Angels will pay him $81 million over the next four seasons, with the Jays’ $5 million covering the rest. Paying a four-to-five win player those wages is acceptable, albeit market value, but paying a player with 5.5 wins over the last three seasons (and 7 over the last four seasons) is nothing shy of wasteful. Wells is already on the wrong side of 30 and the Angels actually gave up value too.

Lest everyone forget that Alex Anthopolous landed two useful players. It’s not too outlandish to describe Napoli as the best hitter in the deal and Rivera as (offensively at least) a poor man’s Wells. Check the lines over the last three seasons before shaking the superlatives off:

Wells: .275/.327/.466
Napoli: .258/.341/.502
Rivera: .266/.314/.445

Remember, Toronto is a hitters park and a Canadian point of OBP is worth like half of an American point. So Rivera’s on-base percentage fits right in while Napoli’s is looking Bondsian. Not to mention that it pushes Adam Lind, Travis Snider, and the catching tandem (J.P. Arenciba and Jose Molina) to positions of lesser importance on their ball club, thereby improving the starting lineup and bench alike.

Anthopoulos spent most of his offseason refreshing the Rays’ page on MLB Trade Rumors to learn of his next move and snatching up free agent compensation picks. Naturally, the Napoli move came hours after reports broke linking the Rays to the former Angels’ backstop. That Anthopoulos wound up moving the Wells’ deal without paying 99% of the remaining value is a win within itself, that he also recovered two players of value is just icing on the cake.

To review: Anthopoulos has done well to take away potentially undervalued players on the free agent market who fit the Rays’ price range while also throwing a soul-crushing contract onto the Angels, adding draft picks, and relieving his future budgets in the process. As such, it may be time to introduce a new TPR series: Dracula or Anthopoulos? That’s an impressive front office up in Toronto, because of them, the idea of a Rays-Jays ALCS might be overzealous, but less so than it used to be.

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