The Rays’ 2011 Rotation

The Rays have the second-best record in baseball thanks, in large part, to one of the game's deepest rotations. The team can bring all of its starters back next year, but Tampa Bay is likely facing a lower payroll, so the rotation could line up differently in 2011. The Rays may have to consider trading a starter to clear payroll room and address other needs, but next year's rotation should remain strong.

David Price's evolution has continued in 2010. The former first overall pick has gone from late-inning reliever to Cy Young candidate in his short major league career and the Rays aren't about to trade him. Wade Davis (4.29 ERA) and Jeff Niemann (3.97 ERA) have turned in strong seasons and both figure to be cogs in next year's rotation. The Rays placed the two right-handers on the disabled list last month and Niemann has struggled immensely since returning, but both are expected to be fully healthy by 2011.

Matt Garza and James Shields complicate things. Shields earns $4.25MM next year and Garza could make $6MM or so through arbitration, so the budget-conscious Rays may have to consider trading them – at least that's what some executives suggested to ESPN.com's Buster Olney last month. Shields' team-friendly contract and strong strikeout (8.5 K/9) and walk (2.2 BB/9) ratios should make him appealing in spite of his 4.73 ERA. Garza, who threw a no-hitter this year, has a 3.53 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9, so he will appeal to rival teams, too.

It would likely be harder for the Rays to part with either of those pitchers than it was for them to trade Scott Kazmir, Jason Hammel or Edwin Jackson, but the club's left fielder, first baseman and closer are headed for free agency. GM Andrew Friedman has to replace (or re-sign) Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Rafael Soriano somehow, so he may market Shields and/or Garza, considering their salaries and the organization's depth.

When Davis and Niemann went on the disabled list, the Rays were able to call on Andy Sonnanstine and Jeremy Hellickson. Sonnanstine, who goes to arbitration for the first time this winter, has extensive experience as a starter, but has only started three games this year. Joe Maddon has been using the righty in low-leverage situations, and Sonnanstine has responded with a 4.29 ERA and twice as many strikeouts as walks. 

Sonnanstine may be best-suited for long-relief, but Hellickson appears ready to start in the major leagues. In case his 2.45 ERA and 9.4 K/9 at Triple A weren't convincing enough, the 23-year-old has turned in four dominant starts in the major leagues. The Rays will presumably find a way to work the young right-hander into their rotation next year.

Jake McGee posted a 3.06 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in the upper minors this year, so he provides Tampa Bay with yet another option. Matt Moore, a 21-year-old left-hander, has struck out an astounding 208 batters in the Florida State League and while he's not yet ready for the majors, he figures to rise quickly through the Rays' system.

The Rays have a tremendous amount of starting pitching depth in their organization. Other needs are about to emerge for the team, so it would make sense for them to consider trading Garza and Shields. Both would be sought-after and the Rays would likely have a strong rotation even if they traded one of their more established starters away.

 


49 Responses to The Rays’ 2011 Rotation Leave a Reply

  1. alexchicago14 5 years ago

    Three words……….Kenny F**in’ Powers…

  2. start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

    I hope they trade Garza… Sox do much better against Shields than Garza.

  3. bbxxj 5 years ago

    I think how the Rays handle Garza and Shields depends on how how they think they can replace Crawford and Pena while reloading the pen and in my mind more specifically how to replace Pena. Crawford is very likely to leave for a payday that would hamstring TB if they tried to match it and they also have Jennings in the minors now getting on base, stealing bags, and playing great defense to fill some of the hole left by Crawford. On the other hand I don’t see a able replacement in the minors or on the 1B bargin bin that can replace the defensive/power combo that Pena offers.

    As hard as it will be to do I would let Crawford go and trade Garza and Shields for the greatest amount of high upside talen irregardless of level or MLB readiness in order to make sure you can resign Pena and and a Soriano type reliever or two. This would leave some cash over to sign someone like Ordonez to DH expecially if you can trade Upton for some valuable minor league pieces.

    When you can slash that kind of payroll and move two talented young starters for a solid return and still have a Price/Niemann/Davis/Hellickson/McGee rotation with Sonnenstine and Moore waiting in the wings you have to consider it.

    • jwredsox 5 years ago

      I think unless they got someone really good back for Garza and Shields I think that would backfire if they want to compete in 2011. 2 pitchers in their first year in the majors is a serious issue for any rotation. And why you figure Niemann is due for regression from his current numbers (though no as much after hist last 2 starts) and even Price’s peripherals hint at some regression. Add this to Jennings in his first year in the majors and you have a team that is relying heavily on young, inexperienced players.

      • bbxxj 5 years ago

        “you have a team that is relying heavily on young, inexperienced players”

        Yes that is absolutely true but that is what the Rays have been doing for years and will need to continue to do as they keep their payroll down. If they are planning on cutting payroll and still have needs like 1B and the pen you have to go young and for the Rays the outfield and rotation are the best places to do so because they have legit young players to take over.

        And its not like they won’t have any veterans around as Longoria, Bartlett, Pena, Zobrist, Price, etc while all being young have played several seasons and can take up leadership roles.

        • Is this the same Carlos Pena who is a free agent?
          -wtk

          • bbxxj 5 years ago

            That ones one of my main reasons for trading Garza and Shields, to resign Pena. The other reasons were to have some flexibility to fill out the pen and continue to infuse talent into the minor league system to do the same thing in a few years.

          • Guest 5 years ago

            a trade built around Garza for Adrian Gonzalez you say?
            although I doubt TB want a one year rental, who’ll want a Tex contract

          • bbxxj 5 years ago

            No, I think Pena on a reasonable contract and prospects for Garza.

          • bbxxj 5 years ago

            That ones one of my main reasons for trading Garza and Shields, to resign Pena. The other reasons were to have some flexibility to fill out the pen and continue to infuse talent into the minor league system to do the same thing in a few years.

        • jwredsox 5 years ago

          It isn’t a problem with leadership but when you take your Shut down closer, Star OFer, power 1B, former ace, and quality 2-3 starter and replace them with rookies you have to expect serious regression.

          • BaseballFanatic0707 5 years ago

            The Rays are probably the only team in baseball that can legit replace a good amount of those positions.

            Hellboy is seriously good, Desmond Jennings is trying to break down the door to the club, and they’ve got plenty of pitchers they can use in late-inning relief if they choose to break in a young guy that way, a-la David Price. I can’t say much for the 1B position.

          • jwredsox 5 years ago

            Yes in the future. But you have potentially 3 rookies stepping in. Odds are only one is going to have a good rookie season to match who he replaced. Desmond is good but I expect a decent 1st year maybe a .260 avg with limited power and equal steals to what CC would give you. Hellickson probably has the best shot to finish with a sub 3.75 ERA but that isn’t a given. And I don’t know much on McGee but first year for starters is normally not that good. And Hellickson’s looks like a Clay Buchholz clone to me.

          • bbxxj 5 years ago

            How I see it:

            Price- the ace of the staff
            Davis and Niemann- solid MOR starters with the potential with Davis for a bit more
            Hellickson- potential for an immediate dominant rookie season
            McGee- likely to have an up and down season as the fifth starter but should show flashes of what he should be down the line

            Sonnenstine is a reliable spot starter and TB would likely recoup some MLB ready or close to MLB starters in their Garza, Shields and potentially Upton deals.

            Of course if TB has unlimited resources like the Yankees and Sox do then you keep the duo and move the kids along slowly, but when you have other needs to fill you may not be able too.

      • Sleepykarl 5 years ago

        Relying on young guys over seasoned veterans does not mean anything. It’s all about skill, a rookie with talent > washed-up former ws MVP.

        • jwredsox 5 years ago

          Talent isn’t everything. You need to know how to pitch in the ML level before that talent amounts to wins. There are some cases where the player is so talented they can get away with it but those are few and far between, especially in the AL East. Just look at how Joba Chamberlain, Clay Buchholz, Phil Hughes, Ricky Romero, Wade Davis, Jeff Neimann, Wade Davis, ect. did in their first full seasons. I think all of them were over a 4.00 ERA. Are you saying Garza and Shields together (to go along with the fact they will be able to throw more innings) won’t be better than a 4.00 ERA?

      • Sleepykarl 5 years ago

        Relying on young guys over seasoned veterans does not mean anything. It’s all about skill, a rookie with talent > washed-up former ws MVP.

    • jwredsox 5 years ago

      And Matt Moore won’t be ready for next year and probably not even 2012

  4. PRKnight 5 years ago

    Man the rays are in a good place right now. They are contending for the world series with some vets and young guns. If i was the rays i would deff consider trading those two guys just on the fact that they have so much young pitchers that i dont think it would hurt them to much. The pieces they bring would probably fill up those holes they might face in the offseason. So i say why not explore it and if they hold on to those guys eh they will still be a contending team

  5. wwy 5 years ago

    I don’t think they can trade both of them. Maybe one of them.

  6. bballstud16 5 years ago

    I don’t see the Rays trading both. I think they will retain one. It’s an interesting situation for sure. Garza or Shields would likely bring back a nice haul though,to stock up the farm.I do think the Rays need to try to resign Pena. Soriano is good as gone, and possibly other bullpen members (Balfour, Wheeler, Benoit – I think are all free agents – not positive though).I think they should try to resign Benoit, and make him the closer. The Rays have JP Howell back next year, so he can take Benoit’s set up spot. So they will probably go after some middle relievers for the cheap. I also think the Rays will trade Bartlet- for whatever they can back. I think the rotation will be:
    1. Price
    2. Niemann
    3. Shields
    4. Davis
    5. Hellickson

    I think you might see McGee out of the bullpen too next year. A possible closer maybe?

    • jwredsox 5 years ago

      Shields is a #2 guy. Neimann has just been lucky this year and can’t be relied on to give sub 3.50 ERA years.

      • bballstud16 5 years ago

        Ok I kind of agree with you. It wouldn’t bother me who is number 2 and who is 3. Knowing Joe Maddon, however, Shields will still be our opening day starter.

        I do agree Neimann has been playing a little over his head, but I think he is a solid pitcher that could maintain a sub-4 era over the course of the season- if he stays away from injuries.

        I also don’t think Jake McGee will start the season with the Rays as a starter. Maybe in the middle of the season, or he could probably break out of spring training as a reliever. I’m a huge Jeremy Hellickson fan, but I don’t see him being as good as he has been this year. Like I think you said, a 3.75+ era should be expected. I also don’t think Desmond Jennings will waltz in and replace CC like many think he will. I still think he has a way to go to be a consistant MLB player.

      • bballstud16 5 years ago

        Ok I kind of agree with you. It wouldn’t bother me who is number 2 and who is 3. Knowing Joe Maddon, however, Shields will still be our opening day starter.

        I do agree Neimann has been playing a little over his head, but I think he is a solid pitcher that could maintain a sub-4 era over the course of the season- if he stays away from injuries.

        I also don’t think Jake McGee will start the season with the Rays as a starter. Maybe in the middle of the season, or he could probably break out of spring training as a reliever. I’m a huge Jeremy Hellickson fan, but I don’t see him being as good as he has been this year. Like I think you said, a 3.75+ era should be expected. I also don’t think Desmond Jennings will waltz in and replace CC like many think he will. I still think he has a way to go to be a consistant MLB player.

  7. bballstud16 5 years ago

    I don’t see the Rays trading both. I think they will retain one. It’s an interesting situation for sure. Garza or Shields would likely bring back a nice haul though,to stock up the farm.I do think the Rays need to try to resign Pena. Soriano is good as gone, and possibly other bullpen members (Balfour, Wheeler, Benoit – I think are all free agents – not positive though).I think they should try to resign Benoit, and make him the closer. The Rays have JP Howell back next year, so he can take Benoit’s set up spot. So they will probably go after some middle relievers for the cheap. I also think the Rays will trade Bartlet- for whatever they can back. I think the rotation will be:
    1. Price
    2. Niemann
    3. Shields
    4. Davis
    5. Hellickson

    I think you might see McGee out of the bullpen too next year. A possible closer maybe?

  8. Beachbummer 5 years ago

    Shields is a number two. Lets for arguments sake say Niemann is a three, although for most MLB teams he would be a two(ie Brewers,Indians,Pirates,Orioles,etc). Garza is a solid two who may be a one if he harnasses his stuff. Price and Hellickson are ones but we’ll put Hellickson as a two for arguments sake. Wade Davis is a solid 4. Keep in mind this is a rookie so he may be much better. Sonnastine is a five and would make almost any rotation. Wow! What a rotation!

    • jwredsox 5 years ago

      Neimann has a career FIP over 4.3 That is a pretty bad #3.And Hellickson doesn’t have the upside of an ace despite what hype says. He is a 2-3 on a good team and if he reaches his ceiling he will be a Roy Oswalt type pitcher. Which sounds exciting until you figure out how Oswalt’s career 3.21 ERA and 3.35 FIP would translate if he pitched in the AL East his entire career instead of the NL Central where he has beat up the Pirates and Reds (who were bad before this year) over his career. Good and valuable? yes. Ace? probably not.

  9. Beachbummer 5 years ago

    Shields is a number two. Lets for arguments sake say Niemann is a three, although for most MLB teams he would be a two(ie Brewers,Indians,Pirates,Orioles,etc). Garza is a solid two who may be a one if he harnasses his stuff. Price and Hellickson are ones but we’ll put Hellickson as a two for arguments sake. Wade Davis is a solid 4. Keep in mind this is a rookie so he may be much better. Sonnastine is a five and would make almost any rotation. Wow! What a rotation!

  10. What about Shields or Garza to the Royals for Billy Butler (to fill the 1B hole) and a minor league pitcher (Royals have a stable of them)?

    • …..or a package based around Soria and his very team friendly contract that the Rays has got to interest the rays’ budget.
      Soria, Kila, and a pitching prospect for Garza?

      • jwredsox 5 years ago

        too much for too little. Garza still hasn’t had an FIP under 4 in his career, is 27, and will cost money soon (which the Royals minght not want to spend). Plus trading one for the Game’s top closers for a 27 yr old yet to reach his full potential is not smart

      • jwredsox 5 years ago

        too much for too little. Garza still hasn’t had an FIP under 4 in his career, is 27, and will cost money soon (which the Royals minght not want to spend). Plus trading one for the Game’s top closers for a 27 yr old yet to reach his full potential is not smart

      • Kila what ever his last name is? Yeah… I’d rather take Soria and a pitching/hitting prospect… Kila looks like a rapist…

      • Kila what ever his last name is? Yeah… I’d rather take Soria and a pitching/hitting prospect… Kila looks like a rapist…

    • …..or a package based around Soria and his very team friendly contract that the Rays has got to interest the rays’ budget.
      Soria, Kila, and a pitching prospect for Garza?

  11. Beachbummer 5 years ago

    Yes yes yes !! Soria is exactly what we need with his contract. Make it happen Friedman!

    • Beachbummer 5 years ago

      I don’t think the Rays want Butler but I think Garza may have more value than Soria due to his postseason greatness. Garza still has a couple years of cost control and i think Soria has three so its pretty fair in that sense. Both have wicked arms and proven durability. I think that when the world gets a look at Garza in the playoffs and series his stock will go up. He steps up SO big in pressure situations. Very similar to John Smoltz in playoff play.

      • jwredsox 5 years ago

        THe Royals don’t need to trade for players due to their postseason greatness. You kinda need to make the playoffs for that to become relevant.

        • Ferrariman 5 years ago

          i was just thinking that. what good is postseason success for a team that hasn’t been to the post season in like 9000 years.

          • jwredsox 5 years ago

            Plus I’m not sure how Garza gets thrown in the great postseason pitcher either. He had one good series. His total postseason ERA is 3.9# and postseason stats, in most cases, hold no value.

  12. Ferrariman 5 years ago

    its amazing how much you get overvalued after you throw a no-hitter. Garza is a tough guy who usually keeps his team in the game and has an era that hovers around 4. thats what he is, and thats what his value should be. that means he isn’t worth Butler, soria, gonzalez, etc as some are saying.

  13. The Rays’ primary concerns for next season, I think, are the Closer and the DH. Desmond Jennings is probable for LF; Leslie Anderson is likely to get the first look at 1B. Individually or combined, they’re not going to produce (or defend) like Crawford and Pena (at least, not in 2011), but they should be average-to-above-average. If Bartlett is traded, Reid Brignac can take over at SS. 2B and RF are covered through a combination of Ben Zobrist, Sean Rodriguez and Matt Joyce. Presuming nothing unexpected happens, John Jaso and Kelly Shoppach should be platooning behind the plate. I don’t expect anything to move Upton (his defense is quite valuable still even if his bat didn’t show up for the first 2/3 of the season). Longoria isn’t going anywhere.They’ll be a cheaper team next season. They won’t be as good (in all likelihood), but they’ll be better dollar-for-dollar than most anyone else.As far as Garza and Shields are concerned: Logically, I think one of them will be gone. I’d rather not see either of them go, but it’s probably going to happen.

  14. Rays fans, Garza or Shields to the Padres what’s you need or what’s you like.

  15. Rays fans, Garza or Shields to the Padres what’s you need or what’s you like.

  16. Rays fans, Garza or Shields to the Padres what’s you need or what’s you like.

  17. jphenix2002 5 years ago

    Any chance the rays pursue prince fielder?

Leave a Reply