Joe Maddon leaving the Rays

This morning it was revealed that Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon has exercised the exit option in his managerial contract and is now a free agent. Maddon was entering the final year of a three year extension and the team had tried to reach another deal with Maddon. While there is not yet any official information on where Maddon is going, it’s doubtful to think that he made this move without an idea of a plan in place.

For the Rays, this piles on an already turbulent off-season. The franchise failed to win 90 games for the first time since 2009 and finished below .500 for the first time since 2007 this year. They lost General Manager Andrew Friedman to the Dodgers and now Joe Maddon, their manager for the last nine seasons. That’s a lot of turnover for an organization that had been a model of consistency over the past few seasons. [click to continue…]

Should Jon Jay be the Cardinals CF?

Let me preface this post saying that I am a massive Jon Jay fan. If you asked me who my favorite Cardinal on the current roster was, it’s unanimously Jon Jay. With Allen Craig playing for the Red Sox now, he doesn’t even have a threat. I don’t even have to think about it. But I think it’s time for the Cardinals to trade Jon Jay while they can because his 2014 performance will not be duplicated. Here’s why.

When you look at the season long numbers, Jay returned to his consistency this season. Hit .303, posted a 109 OPS+, and was plus defensively. Among center fielders who played as much as he did, Jon Jay was a top-5 defensive outfielder this season. But when you look under the hood, perhaps you see something that we all said about 2013’s batting average with runners in scoring position.

Jon Jay played 749 innings in center field this season and posted a +5 defensive runs saved and a UZR/150 of 12.8. For Jay, that defensive runs saved number was roughly on par with his 2011 season, but that UZR/150 was far and away his best defensive showing of his career. His next highest season was a 4.7 in 2012. [click to continue…]

The organizational vision for 2015 begins to focus

John Mozeliak and Mike Matheny spoke to the media this afternoon to discuss a little bit about how the season ended, but mainly where the club goes from here to prepare for the 2015 season. As a result of today’s discussion we now have begun to get a clearer picture of where Mozeliak intends to take the club over the offseason and what it’s goals are.

We heard from Bill DeWitt Jr earlier this week about payroll and their expectation that it will escalate in future years to accommodate rising salaries of their young players. He also made note that the team has the means to add another core player via free agency or trade if an opportunity presented itself. While he declined to say exactly how much he foresees payroll rising, it is confidence inspiring that the team will attempt to identify and retain some of its young players going forward.

Going into 2015, all of the coaching staff is expected to return. Mike Aldrete may be approached by at least one other team for an open position with them, but they have yet to ask permission to interview Aldrete. Personally, I’d like to see Aldrete move on and the Cardinals hire a veteran bench coach who can help Matheny manage the pitching staff better. Aldrete has been a hitting coach and a base coach and doesn’t have the background to really provide Matheny with experienced strategic advice when it comes to managing a bullpen. The combination of inexperience in both positions has hurt the Cardinals, in my opinion. [click to continue…]

Exit Interview: Tommy Pham

2014 Major League stats: 0-for-2, 2 K
2014 Minor League stats: .324/.395/.491, 10 HR, 44 RBI in 104 games in AAA
2015 Role: Outfield for Triple-A Memphis

Tommy Pham parlayed a career minor league season into a September call-up this year. After hitting .286 between Springfield and Memphis last season, he broke out this year in a crowded Memphis outfield that included at times Oscar Taveras, Randal Grichuk, and Stephen Piscotty. Not to mention Shane Robinson, who hit well in Memphis, on occasion as well. His St. Louis stint was short, but did manage to log four innings of solid work in the outfield.

He also played his way onto the 40 man roster just in time for protection from the Rule 5 Draft this winter. A formerly highly viewed prospect, Pham was a star in high school that fell to the 16th round of the 2006 draft. He struggled at the plate early on but it was discovered that he has an eye disorder that he has had surgery to repair in 2009. Since then he had a broken wrist, shoulder problems, and a litany of other issues that prevented him from staying on the field. But he rewarded the Cardinals’ faith this season and was tagged to keep, for at least one more year. [click to continue…]

Exit Interview: Audry Perez

2014 Major League Stats: 1 PA, 1 BB
2014 Minor League Stats: .292/.298/.419, 6 HR, 33 RBI in 62 games in AAA
2015 Role: Catcher in the minor leagues

Audry Perez made his Major League debut this season with the Cardinals as a stop-gap until the team figured out what to do after Yadier Molina went down with injury. He only managed to play two innings behind the plate during this season’s cup of coffee and had one plate appearance that resulted in a walk. At the time he, along with Tony Cruz, were the team’s only catching options on the 40 man roster. However, he was removed from it in September when the team called up Sam Tuivailala and Tommy Pham.

Overall, Perez is viewed primary as a catch-and-throw catcher, rated the system’s best a couple years ago, without much expected offensive output. I believe he meets the requirements to be a minor league free agent. I could see him take the opportunity to try another organization, perhaps one without a backlog at catcher. Molina and Cruz have the two spots on the Major League roster locked down and Cody Stanley is a fast rising catching prospect, so Perez’s future in St. Louis would be doubtful.