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The Professor from Rays Index capped off a great weekend for the Rays by answering some questions for the Hot Stove. This blog has everything including some Johnny Drama so definitely check it out for any Tampa related fantasy issues.

FBHS: Andy Sonnanstine has not been impressive so far this year. So David Price is clearly staying down for the price Tampa won’t have to play down the line – right? When will we see Price?

RI: Not necessarily. Price is still a work in progress. Keep in mind that Price only had 14 starts above single-A prior to this season and only about 380 innings in five seasons since high school. His changeup still needs a lot of work and he is not very efficient with his pitches. If the Rays did not have five legitimate major league starting pitchers, then maybe Price would work on those issues at the big league level, but the Rays have the personnel in place so they can afford to keep him in the minors. And if you look at his minor league numbers so far in 2009, you will see that he is proving the Rays right. And on top of all that, I still think Wade Davis is closer to the majors at this point. And based on how the Rays are handling both pitchers in triple-A, that seems to be holding true. At this point Price still has a very strict 75-pitch limit and Davis does not. Still, I fully expect to see Price in the majors at some point, but it likely won’t happen until after the all-star break.

FBHS: Matt Garza was perfect through 6 innings in his most recent start, but the two starts before that were weak. This seemed to be his pattern last year too. He can be so nasty one start and then the next he lasts 4 innings. I know he can’t throw 2 hit shutouts every night, but I would expect more quality starts given how he can seem unhittable at times. Why the inconsistency?

RI: The consensus seems to be that Garza is a very emotional pitcher and has trouble controlling that on the mound. Last year, he seemed to turn a corner after he started meeting with a sports psychologist. Still, to me there seems to be more. Remember, he is very young and he throws very hard (95-96) and his fastball has a LOT of movement. That is something that will take a while to harness. When Garza does have command of his fastball, he is as close to Pedro Martinez as you will find. And let’s not forget that Pedro had four full big league seasons under his belt before his first breakthrough year in 1997 with the Expos. When a pitcher throws a fastball with that much movement it can be a little like throwing a knuckleball, in that the pitcher doesn’t nevessarily have control over where it is going on every pitch. it takes a while to learn to command that pitch and i think Garza is still in the learning process.

FBHS: Is Carlos Pena putting together another season like he did in 2007 or is he just swinging well at the moment?

RI: I would actually argue that Carlos Pena is not swining the bat very well right now. Almost 30% of his plate appearances have resulted in strikeouts. He is the epitome of feast-or-famine right now. i think Pena has finally learned to not pull the ball with every swing, something he did well in the second-half of 2007. But the biggest difference is that for the first time since joining Tampa Bay, he has legitimate protection in the lineup with Pat Burrell batting behind him. I see no reason for Pena to slow down.

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10 Responses to Fresh Out of the Oven: Tampa Bay Rays

  1. slatkin says:

    If David Price isn’t ready for the majors then wasn’t it rather irresponsible to play him the playoffs last year? Is Tampa Bay admitting that they weren’t trying to win? I don’t get it.

  2. slatkin says:

    I mean isn’t RI angry that Tampa compromised their chances of winning by putting a player who so clearly was not ready to play in the major leagues out there, in high pressure situations?

    Most teams put their best pitchers out there. I guess Tampa is so confident they can put a “work in progress” out there and give him a lot of postseason innings.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As you’re obviously a fantasy baseball expert (and perhaps the easiest to contact), I have a question for you:

    Would you drop (or sit) Rafael Furcal and pick up Troy Tulowitzki (FA in my league)?

    Also, What are your thoughts on Johnny Cueto vs. Kyle Lohse (both available)

  4. Schruender says:

    Since I love being called a fantasy baseball expert (though leaguemates might refute such a statement) I’ll respond to that comment first.

    The Furcal vs. Tulo call is difficult to make since they don’t bring the same stats to the table. If you need steals, you need Furcal. If you need home runs, you need Tulo. All things being equal though, my stance on the two players hasn’t changed since the winter. I think Furcal won’t be able to stay healthy after missing most of last season with a back injury and that Tulo despite having an injury last year can recover at age 24. The fact that Tulo has a .235 BABIP while Furcal’s is at .304 is an indication that Tulo is not just hitting poorly so far, but also getting unlucky.

    The Lohse vs. Cueto debate is a lot easier. Cueto! At 23 years old he has a chance to develop into a stud whereas I think Lohse at age 30 is just pitching well right now. Lohse’s career K rate is just 5.62 K/9 innings and Cueto gets over 8 K/9 innings. Even if Lohse is more likely to earn a win, the strikeouts are much greater with Cueto.

  5. Schruender says:

    Slatkin I think what the Rays are doing is more in line with looking at the long term career of David Price as a starting pitcher. As Cork from Rays Index indicated, they are keeping him to a rather tight pitch count. There’s no denying that Price is a better pitcher than some of the arms on the Rays roster right now, but if they want Price to be a starter and not work him in too many innings this year, the only place to do that is in Durham. Otherwise he would be throwing 4 inning starts and killing the bullpen at the Major League level.

    The last thing a small market franchise needs is to have a top prospect become the next Mark Prior. In August and September assuming the Rays are close they could have Price as a starter this year getting 18 or 21 outs per appearance rather than 3 outs, which was all they could ask for last season.

  6. Anonymous says:

    thanks man. now that i start to look deeper into the stats, Furcal is really not THAT impressive. I’m going to try to ship him off to somebody, selling the fact that he had such a high BA last season. If I could get a slumping guy like Rollins out of the deal I think I’ll be alright.

    Also, looking into Cueto’s numbers, he has been really good. Edinson Volquez of last season good, althought I don’t believe he’s as highly regarded.

    Possibly you could answer this for me: Good idea or bad idea to drop John Danks and pick up Cueto? Danks has been scaring me his last two starts.

    thanks a lot man

  7. Schruender says:

    Dealing for Rollins would be fantastic. Even when Furcal and Rollins were both at the top of their games, Rollins was the better player. Now that they are both down if you can pull that off it’s a great move – though you’ll likely have to slip someone else in a deal.

    Danks hasn’t looked good the last two times out, but last night’s game was tough. In Arlington the Rangers can make any pitcher look worse than he is. That being said, Cueto has given up 1 earned run in his last 22 innings. They are both young and some inconsistency should be expected. That being said I’d grab the guy that’s pitching well now and try to ride that out.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Danks dropped for Cueto and Rollins proposed for Rafael Furcal and Magglio Ordonez.

    You’re a good man.

  9. Schruender says:

    Best of luck!

  10. Louise says:

    Tampa Bay Rays should be always competitive enough to keep pace with the others. I really like them; they’ve always been my favourite teams in MLB. Just read about them here:
    http://www.devilrayshome.com

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