Welcome back, Carlos... kinda

Carlos Pena returns to the Rays lineup, for better or worse.

I’d much rather the 3-hole be filled by the unsigned player making it, indeed, a hole: Casey Kotchman. He hit .306 in the 2011 season for the Rays, as opposed to Pena’s .225 with the Chicago Cubs. The two were neck-and-neck on doubles and triples. Pena’s upside: more homeruns—28 to Kotchman’s 10. But with Pena’s power comes the propensity to strike out: a whopping 161 Ks vs. Kotchman’s 66. Pena also had more RBI, but that argument doesn’t acknowledge that RBI are all about the hitter before you.


So let’s talk defense. In 153 games, Pena picked notched 1116 putouts and 88 assists, while committing 8 errors, for a .993 fielding percentage. Kotchman putout 1119 men with 80 assists and only 2 errors, a .998 percentage, the best in the majors. Conclusion: the difference between their gloves is negligible, with a slight edge to Kotchman.


What this comes down to is money—imagine that, it being the Rays and all. Pena will be paid $7.25 million for 2012, a good discount from the $10 million the Cubs gave him the year prior. The Rays likely could have signed Kotchman for substantially less—the most he’s ever made was $3.5 million.


As a citizen of Tampa Bay, I was sad to see such a great human being leave the area in 2011. His presence was missed. As someone who watches and writes about Rays baseball 162 days of the year, I was happy to see his 158 strikeouts in 2010 go somewhere else.


At the end of the day I am glad to see him back and hope he doesn’t swing a bat at me for writing this: it could potentially hurt a lot, but he also might miss.

  • What will Carlos Pena bring in his 2012 return to the Rays?

Earlier today, the Tampa Bay Rays signed the beloved Carlos Pena to a one-year deal reportedly worth $7.25 million. The fan response on Twitter has been an uproar of “Yay!”

Boo.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to have such a wonderful human being back in the Tampa Bay area. He is great for the community, philanthropically and from a fan’s perspective. Great with the media, he’s everything you could want when it comes to a genuine nice person. But I don’t want Dottie Berger-MacKinnon batting cleanup at the Trop either.…

The thing is, unless someone in the starting lineup is eating fresh kittens for every meal, I’m more concerned with their activity on the field than conduct off it. You don’t trade for someone who loves animals, right? A perfect example is newly-signed Ray Luke Scott. As CL's Mitch Perry reported, he’s been called the "Rush Limbaugh of baseball." Now people are free to think whatever they want about a person’s political leanings but, as a sports guy, I care more about what Scott does with his hands than with his mouth.

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