MLB Preview 2011: Looking at Evan Longoria and the Tampa Bay Rays on Paper

Adrian FedkiwAnalyst IIIMarch 28, 2011

MLB Preview 2011: Looking at Evan Longoria and the Tampa Bay Rays on Paper

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    ST. PETERSBURG - SEPTEMBER 13:  Infielder Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws over to first for an out against the New York Yankees during the game at Tropicana Field on September 13, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Im
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Tampa Bay lost a lot over the offseason. 

    Gone is Carlos Pena who provided the pop in the middle of the lineup.  Carl Crawford provided speed, and Jason Bartlett had a solid glove at short. 

    On the pitching side, Matt Garza is now a Cub, and the bullpen has been destroyed.

    These are the unfortunate circumstances of being a small-market team.

    Luckily for the Rays, there's still a lot of young talent.  They have an MVP candidate in Evan Longoria and they Cy Young runner-up a year ago in David Price. 

    Throughout you will see a number between 7-10 beside each player.  These numbers break the players up into essential categories; here's a rough layout. 

    10: Best player/pitcher in baseball

    9-plus: Superstar, MVP/Cy Young Candidates

    8-plus: Consistent All-Star

    7.5: Periodical All-Star

    7.25: Solid Starter

    7: Average Player


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    ST. PETERSBURG - AUGUST 01:  Infielder Reid Brignac #15 of the Tampa Bay Rays dives for a ball against the New York Yankees during the game at Tropicana Field on August 1, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images
    • C-  John Jaso- 7
    • 1B- Dan Johnson- 7
    • 2B- Sean Rodriguez- 7
    • SS- Reid Brignac- 7
    • 3B- Evan Longoria- 9

    John Jaso (27) 339 AB .263 BA 57 R 5 HR 44 RBI 4 SB 

    • After making five Minor League All-Star teams, Jaso is finally a fixture in the big leagues.  He’s a solid hitter who’s not going to hit for power.  He’s below average behind the plate. 

    Dan Johnson (31) 111 AB .198 BA 15 R 7 HR 23 RBI 1 SB

    • Carlos Pena never hit for a high average, but he gave the Rays big time power in the middle of their lineup.  Johnson has good plate discipline, but he doesn’t generate a lot of bat speed.  He doesn’t have good range in the field, but he fields the balls he needs to.

    Sean Rodriguez (25) 343 AB .251 BA 53 R 9 HR 40 RBI 13 SB

    • Rodriguez is an aggressive fastball hitter who likes the ball up.  He’s versatile in the field and can play a couple of different positions. 

    Reid Brignac (25) 301 AB .256 BA 39 R 8 HR 45 RBI 3 SB

    • Brignac is an aggressive line drive hitter who tends to chase fastballs out of the zone.  He’s a smooth fielder with a strong and accurate arm.

    Evan Longoria (25) 574 AB .294 BA 96 R 22 HR 104 RBI 15 SB

    • Longoria is one of five players ever to record 20 plus home runs and 30 plus doubles in each of his first three seasons.  He has a smooth swing which generates a lot of power.  He loves the ball on the inner-half.  He’s rangy in the field, can go either way and has a strong arm.


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    BOSTON - SEPTEMBER 07:  Ben Zobrist #18 of the Tampa Bay Rays hits a two run homer in the third inning as Victor Martinez #41 of the Boston Red Sox  defends on September 7, 2010 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images
    • LF- Johnny Damon- 7 
    • CF- B.J. Upton- 7.25
    • RF- Ben Zobrist- 7.25
    • DH- Manny Ramirez- 7.25

    Johnny Damon (37) 539 AB .271 BA 81 R 8 HR 51 RBI 11 SB

    • Damon's bat has declined with age, but his numbers are still respectable.  I'm interested to see if Desmond Jennings will get an opportunity to play this season.  He's a Carl Crawford clone.

    B.J. Upton (26) 536 AB .237 BA 89 R 18 HR 62 RBI 42 SB

    • Upton has had an up-and-down start to his career.  He has an unorthodox swing and strikes out a lot.  He plays an athletic center field.  He uses his speed to chase down balls.  He has a strong and accurate throwing arm.

    Ben Zobrist (29) 541 AB .238 BA 77 R 10 HR 75 RBI 24 SB

    • Zobrist is at his best in right field, but he can literally play almost any position on the diamond.  After a strong 2009, Zobrist struggled with his bat last year.  He has a very short swing.  

    Manny Ramirez (38) 265 AB .298 BA 38 R 9 HR 42 RBI 1 SB

    • No one knows what Manny’s going to contribute, but the Rays didn’t pay much to get his so it’s worth the risk.  He’s lost power, but he can still center the ball and spray it around.

Starting Pitching

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    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 06:  Pitcher David Price #14 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Texas Rangers during Game 1 of the ALDS at Tropicana Field on October 6, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images
    • 1. David Price- 8.5
    • 2. James Shields- 7.25
    • 3. Wade Davis- 7.25
    • 4. Jeff Nieman- 7
    • 5. Jeremy Hellickson- 7.5

    David Price (25) 209 IP 19-6 2.72 ERA 1.19 WHIP 188 K

    • Price broke out and lived up to the hype of being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft.  He finished second in the AL Cy Young voting.  He throws hard up near 100 MPH.  Even his two-seam fastball is near the mid 90’s.  He has a tight curveball and a cutter-like slider.

    James Shields (29) 203 IP 13-15 5.18 ERA 1.46 WHIP 187 K

    • Shields struggled and had a down year last season.  He has a low 90’s tailing fastball.  He has an excellent changeup, but for him to be successful, he needs to get either his curveball or slider going. 

    Wade Davis (25) 168 IP 12-10 4.07 ERA 1.35 WHIP 113 K

    • Davis has a solid sinking fastball.  His secondary pitches haven’t been fully established yet.  He has a hard slider and a tight downward curveball.

    Jeff Niemann (28) 174 IP 12-8 4.39 ERA 1.26 WHIP 131 K

    • Niemann uses his size to his advantage.  His fastball is in the low 90’s.  He has a nice split which has the same release point as his fastball.  He also has a quick slider and a 12-to-6 curveball.

    Jeremy Hellickson (24) 36 IP 4-0 3.47 ERA 1.10 WHIP 33 K

    • Hellickson never got the opportunity to start more than four times last season due to a deep staff.  He and Price will make an impressive one two punch down the line.


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    NEW YORK - JUNE 19:  J.P. Howell #39 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws a pitch against the New York Mets on June 19, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
    • RP- Jake McGee- 7
    • RP- Andy Sonnanstine- 7
    • RP- Joel Peralta- 7
    • SU- Kyle Farnsworth- 7
    • CP- J.P. Howell- 7

         Joel Peralta, Andy Sonnanstine, Jake McGee

    • The Rays lost four important cogs in their bullpen; Rafael Soriano, Dan Wheeler, Joaquin Benoit and Randy Choate.  With Howell out until May, McGee or Farnsworth will most likely fill the closer role until then.

    Kyle Farnsworth (34) 65 IP 3-2 45 3.34 ERA 1.14 WHIP 61 K

    • Farnsworth has recorded just one save in the past four seasons, but he's being considered to close until Howell comes back.  He has a high strikeout rate, although he's more of a two-seam fastball and cutter pitcher now.  He used to use the four-seam, slider combination. 

     J.P. Howell (27) DNP

    • Howell won’t be back from shoulder surgery until May.  He has closing experience in the past although he doesn’t have closer-type stuff.  He doesn’t throw hard, but his change-up gets people out.

Sizing Up the Rays on Paper

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    OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 20:  Jeremy Hellickson #58 of the Tampa Bay Rays bats against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum  on August 20, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    C John Jaso: 7

    1B Dan Johnson: 7

    2B Sean Rodriguez: 7

    SS Reid Brignac: 7

    3B Evan Longoria: 9

    LF Johnny Damon: 7 

    CF B.J. Upton: 7.25

    RF Ben Zobrist: 7.25

    DH Manny Ramirez: 7.5

    Projected Lineup

    1. Johnny Damon: 7

    2. John Jaso: 7

    3. Evan Longoria: 9

    4. Manny Ramirez: 7.25

    5. Ben Zobrist: 7.25

    6. B.J. Upton: 7.25

    7. Dan Johnson: 7

    8. Sean Rodriguez: 7

    9. Reid Brignac: 7

    Projected Starting Rotation

    1. David Price: 8.5

    2. James Shields: 7.25

    3. Wade Davis: 7.25

    4. Jeff Nieman: 7

    5. Jeremy Hellickson: 7.5


    RP Jake McGee: 7

    RP Andy Sonnanstine: 7

    RP Joel Peralta: 7

    SU Kyle Farnsworth: 7

    CP J.P. Howell: 7


    Manny Ramirez, Matt Joyce, Kelly Shoppach, Elliot Johnson: 7


    Joe Maddon: 7

    INF: 37

    OF: 21.5

    SP: 37.5

    RP: 7

    CP: 14

    MISC: 14.25

    Hitting: 58.5

    Pitching: 58.5

    TOTAL: 131.25


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    FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 22:  Manny Ramirez #24 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays Photo Day on February 22, 2011 at the Charlotte Sports Complex in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    It'll be interesting to see how Joe Maddon will handle the innings of a young starting rotation because let's face it, the bullpen is pretty bad.

    The x-factor in this whole equation is Manny Ramirez.  If Manny can be Manny, then the Rays can put up a fight.  There's really not a whole lot of depth in the lineup after Longoria and Ramirez.

    Prediction- 79-83 3rd AL East