Rays pick up options on James Shields, Kyle Farnsworth

3 Comments

The Rays reached decisions on their three option calls Monday afternoon, exercising the $7.5 million option on James Shields’ contract and the $3.3 million option on Kyle Farnsworth’s deal.

Declined was Kelly Shoppach’s $3.2 million option. He’ll get a $300,000 buyout.

Shields’ option was a no-brainer. The Rays also hold options on his services for 2013 ($9 million) and 2014 ($12 million). Shields went 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA last season. He led the majors with 11 complete games and he was second in the AL in innings (249 1/3) and third in ERA.

Farnsworth’s option was also a pretty easy call after he finished with a 2.18 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP in 57 2/3 innings as the team’s closer. It’s doubtful that he’ll be so good again, but for $3.3 million, it’s well worth bringing him back. Plus, the Rays would have had to pay him $650,000 anyway had they declined the option.

Shoppach gets let go despite a late surge that saw him hit four homers in 29 at-bats during September and two more against the Rangers in the ALDS. Shoppach, though, was pretty brutal overall during his two years in Tampa Bay, hitting .185 in 379 at-bats. That did come with 16 homers, but even so, he drove in just 39 runs.

A solid defensive catcher, Shoppach shouldn’t have much difficulty finding work, but he’s probably looking at a paycut to the $1.5 million-$2 million range. The Rays figure to seek a catcher upgrade this winter, though they could re-sign Shoppach if nothing else comes to fruition.

The Japanese playoffs are super unfair

Hiroshima Carp
Leave a comment

I know a little about Japanese baseball. Not a lot, mind you. Like, I couldn’t hold my own with people who actually watch it or report on it or whatever, but I could explain some of the broad differences and similarities between the NPB and the U.S. majors.  I can say a few things about how the two leagues compare competitively speaking. I can name some stars and (I think) all the clubs. But there’s, quite obviously, a ton I don’t know.

A thing I did not know until today: the NPB playoffs are really messed up.

The NPB is divided into two leagues, the Central and the Pacific, with the winner of each league facing off in the Japan Series. Like the U.S. majors, they have preliminary playoff rounds in each league. Each league has three playoff teams, with the second and third seed teams playing a series first, and the winner of that series playing the top seed — the team with the best record in the league — in what is called the Climax Series.

Here’s the weird part: the higher-seeded team in the Climax Series — the team which won the league in the regular season — gets every single playoff game at home. What’s more, that team begins the Climax Series with an automatic 1-0 advantage. So, yes, it’s a seven-game series on paper, but one of the teams only has to win three games to advance to the Japan Series.

Oh, in Japan, they also have no problems ending a playoff game early if it rains. That’s what happened in the Central League Climax Series last night, where the lower-seeded Yokohama BayStars took on the league champ Hiroshima Carp. Here’s the report from Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times:

The rainy conditions in Hiroshima caused the umpires to stop play for over 30 minutes and ultimately call the game after five innings, minutes after the Carp put three runs on the board. Just like that, it was over. The Carp won 3-0, with Yokohama robbed of the four innings (at least) it would’ve had to try and rally.

Even better: as Coskrey notes, there are five days in between the end of the Climax Series and the beginning of the Japan Series, so there is no reason they could not suspend a game and resume it the next day. They just choose not to. The upshot: the Carp were staked to a 2-0 series lead despite the fact that they had only played five innings of baseball. UPDATE: they played a full game today, the BayStars won, so now it’s 2-1 Hiroshima.

Imagine if that happened in the NLCS. Imagine if the Dodgers began the series with a 1-0 lead over the Cubs and played all of their games in Los Angeles. Imagine there was a freak L.A. storm and it ended one of the game in the fifth inning, right after Justin Turner hit a homer. I’m pretty sure people would riot.

Kinda makes our complaints about the replay system seem rather quaint, eh?