February 21, 2008
Team Health Reports
Tampa Bay Rays
It would have been better planning to have this come out after I make an appearance at Tampa's FanFest this weekend, but no such luck, and this is how the schedule fell. So, I'll try to anticipate the answers to the sure-to-be-asked questions this weekend. Here, in no particular order, are those answers:
"I guess if Jose Reyes can do it, there's hope."
C Dioner Navarro : I'm not quite on the Navarro bandwagon yet, but he has proven that he can hold up under a full workload. I'm not sure that those workloads haven't affected his hitting, however. Still only 24, he has all of 2008 to establish himself.
2B Akinori Iwamura : If I had better data on his years in the Japanese leagues, I don't think this would be red. In the meantime, the challenge of a position change and last season's oblique injury get amplified a bit; I don't hate this rating, but I don't love it either.
3B Evan Longoria : A young player on turf with only a short minor league stay? It could be a lot worse. This rating does assume that he starts the full year, but to give you a sense of its lack of severity, anything under 120 games would have him rated green.
SS Jason Bartlett : The shoulder and hamstring injuries helped make him available in trade, but he's used to playing on turf and has been an off-season focus for the prevention-heavy Rays medical staff.
CF B.J. Upton : Yellow by a single percentage point, the older Upton seemed to come into his own last season once he was locked into center field. While there's always some concern about his hamstrings and legs, he's only got to stand next to his right fielder to look like a relative paragon of health.
RF Rocco Baldelli / Jonny Gomes : Baldelli lost another year to his hamstring and showed that injury is the one thing that always trumps talent. There's the chance that he rebounds, rebuilding his career and showing the smooth swing that keeps getting him chances; it's just more likely that he follows the Cliff Floyd or Rondell White career path. Gomes is better suited for DH work, and will be exposed by too much time in the outfield.
DH Cliff Floyd : Floyd's situation is well known. At DH, he's a reasonable risk, though the combination of him and turf is a bad one if the Rays try to sneak him into right field on anything more than an occasional basis.
SP Scott Kazmir : The Rays took the gloves off a bit, letting him finish the season so that he could chase the strikeouts title. He was nevertheless on strict pitch limits down the stretch. Mellow when he's off the mound, Kazmir pitches better angry.
SP Jamie Shields : He's down in the greenish-yellow end of the green range after a big innings jump, but his reliance on the changeup and very clean mechanics help.
SP Matt Garza : He tired late last year and faces an innings jump again this season. As a result, I'd expect a solid first half from him, followed by a slide. The trick will be keeping it just a fatigue problem rather than a shoulder problem.
SP Andy Sonnanstine : Sonnanstine is more than just a placeholder, but if he holds his place all season, he'll be looking at a big innings jump.
SP Edwin Jackson : Jackson's out of options, but he's going to have to show that he can not only stay effective, but stay healthy with David Price and others on their way.
CL Troy Percival : He not only came back last season, he started a game for the first time in the majors (throwing just one inning). That confused the heck out of my system, but even without that consideration, his age and history have him squarely in the red.
RP Al Reyes : Just back from Tommy John surgery last season, Reyes wore down as much under the stress of being the team's only effective reliever much of the year as he did from the workload. The Rays hope to have more help for him this year, which will help keep his workload down.
Lineups courtesy SportsBlogs Nation.