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May 3, 2011

Transaction Analysis Blog

Rays Get Longoria Back, Ditch Lopez

by R.J. Anderson

TAMPA BAY RAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Tampa Bay Rays
Optioned SP Alex Cobb to Triple-A Durham. [5/1]
Promoted RP Brandon Gomes from Triple-A Durham. [5/2]

Activated 3B Evan Longoria from the 15-day disabled list. [5/3]
Designated 3B Felipe Lopez for assignment. [5/3]

The Rays endured schedule mayhem last week, as an off-day, snowout, and doubleheader left their rotation on short rest. Rather than proceed, the Rays gave Cobb a crack at Sunday’s start. In a system overflowing with high-powered arms, Cobb—who relies on his secondary stuff and control—sometimes gets overlooked, so it is a bit curious that the Rays gave him the opportunity instead of Alex Torres. Nevertheless, do not take it as a sign that Cobb is necessarily knocking on the big league rotation’s door—although the Rays could look to move James Shields and Jeff Niemann come the wintertime.

In Cobb’s place, the Rays promoted Gomes, who become the third member of their bullpen acquired in the Jason Bartlett trade (the others being Cesar Ramos and Adam Russell). Gomes’ numbers have always outshined his scouting reports and his short time in Triple-A (13 1/3 innings) is no different, as he has a 4.40 strikeout-to-walk ratio embellished by a strikeout rate that equals 14.8 fannings per nine innings pitched. Gomes was closing for Durham, but with Kyle Farnsworth entrenched as the Rays harbinger of finality, look for him to move into a middle relief role.  

Lopez, meanwhile is the causality of Longoria’s return. It’s hard to believe the Rays find Lopez less talented than Elliot Johnson and Casey Kotchman—both of whom are in active platoons against left- and right-handed pitchers respectively—but his long-told attitude issues did flare up a few times in the form of not running out groundballs. Not busting tail became prevalent enough that Joe Maddon yanked Lopez from a game and had a few private conversations with Lopez. Whether another team gives Lopez an opportunity is to be seen, but he seems like a player who could fit on a few teams.

As for Longoria, he hasn’t played for the Rays since halfway through the second game of the season. Somehow, Tampa Bay overcame and finished with their second-best April record (by winning percentage), but make no qualms about it, the Rays certainly need their All-Star third baseman back in the fold in order to have any hopes of long-term contention.


R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

Related Content:  Alex Cobb

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