Durham Bulls on the Move: Sonnanstine Demoted; Abreu... Delayed? | Sports
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Durham Bulls on the Move: Sonnanstine Demoted; Abreu... Delayed?

Posted by on Sat, Jun 27, 2009 at 10:09 AM

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="298" caption="Andy Sonnanstine, seen here practicing for the DBAP's "Sumo Challenge" contest, will join the Durham Bulls"]Andy Sonnanstine, seen here practicing for the DBAPs Sumo Challenge contest, will join the Durham Bulls[/caption]Basically, with the readmission of Chad Bradford and Scott Kazmir to the Tampa clubhouse, the Rays looked around at their starters and their starters' stats, and sent the worst one down to Durham. Yes, it's much more complicated than that, with the usual "options" arcana coming into play; but ultimately Andy Sonnanstine, who has started 69 games for Tampa since 2007, would be staying put at the Trop if he wasn't struggling so badly.

The folks at DRaysBay have more and cooler statistical analysis, but it seems to me that you can train your eyes on one column in Sonnanstine's line: hits. Too many of them, 103 in 81 2/3 innings. His strikeout rate has remained steady, but his walk rate has climbed from 1.7/9 to 2.4/9. His home run rate is up 70% as well. All of that is enough to cause big problems. When you put a lot of runners on base, too many will ultimately score. Sonnanstine started 11 games for the Bulls in 2007 and pitched his way into the big leagues. There's no reason the right-hander can't do it again. He's still just 26.

Someone will have to be moved out of the Bulls' starting rotation to make room for Sonnanstine. My guess is that the struggling James Houser, whose scheduled start last night was skipped, will be the odd man out.

More curious is the choice to designate Winston Abreu for assignment. The superficial reason for the move was to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Chad Bradford, but this was a weird way to do it. Abreu was called up to Tampa less than two weeks ago, and made only two appearances with the big-league club. I suppose the Rays knew what they were getting themselves into when they promoted Abreu, who, like Jeff Niemann (also in the transaction mix but finally left alone), is out of options for reasons far too obscure for me to understand. The upshot, though, is that the Rays can't send Abreu back down to Durham without passing him through waivers or a fine-mesh chinois. So essentially Tampa brought Abreu up to pitch all of 3 2/3 major-league innings, only to risk losing him immediately thereafter. The designated-for-assignment rules dictate that the Rays must do something with Abreu within 10 days: trade him, release him, or hope no one puts a waiver claim on him and outright him back to Durham. If this is goodbye, I'm a little perplexed, because it will have meant that the Rays/Bulls essentially swapped Abreu for Jorge Julio, who, even after his two scoreless innings on Friday night, has a 7.36 ERA. All I can think is that the folks up top saw something they didn't like from Abreu. The numbers he put up in Durham were too gaudy to disregard otherwise.

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