Rays Offseason Progress

November 26, 2007 at 4:26 pm 13 comments

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The Rays have had a pretty quiet winter so far. It seems the only time we hear their name mentioned is when writers make false claims of acquiring Carl Crawford. Don’t let the quiet offseason fool you. The Rays most pressing needs are pitching (same old song here), a shortstop to fill in until Reid Brignac is ready, and a catcher. The Rays are scouring the free agent market for bargains and they, of all teams, know how to find bargains (insert Calros Pena and Al Reyes). The Rays have a plan and they are sticking to it. Here is a breakdown of the Rays offseason so far.

Signings – The Rays are among the many teams which have shown interest in free-agent shortstop Cesar Izturis according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Izturis would be a great addition to the Rays. He has outstanding hands, very good range, and an average arm for the position. This would be great for the infield defense. Brendan Harris and Josh Wilson combined to be the worst shortstop combo in the league defensively. This would give them one of the best defenses in the league. The outfield is great with Crawford, Upton, and Young. The infield features great defense at 3B in rookie Evan Longoria, 2B in Akinori Iwamura, and a good groundball defender at 1B in Carlos Pena. Dioner Navarro is the only below average defender on the diamond, leading the league in throwing errors with 12 (that includes all defensive positions). Izturis would solidify the defense and his lack of offense won’t matter so much. He would be a good #9 hitter due to his speed. The best part, he would only be a short term solution until top prospect Reid Brignac is ready. The lineup would look a little like this (Iwamura and Baldelli would be switched if I made the lineup):

1. Iwamura – 2B
2. Crawford – LF
3. Upton – CF
4. Pena – 1B
5. Young – RF
6. Longoria – 3B
7. Baldelli/Gomes – DH
8. Navarro/Riggans – C
9. Izturis – SS

I’ve also heard rumors of Geoff Jenkins, which makes no sense to me whatsoever. Another ridiculous rumor I’ve heard is that the Rays are interested in Ron Mahay. Well, of course they are interested but not at the asking price (3-4 years).

The Rays, in my opinion, should go after a veteran catcher but they should only go after one who will take a one or two year deal. Dioner Navarro is not the answer. He keeps disappointing. The only thing he has on his side is his youth. He has problems with conditioning and needs to improve his defense. The Rays should do themselves a favor and sign someone to hold the spot until John Jaso is ready.

The Rays have talked to the agent of Troy Percival. Percival would be a good addition and the fact that Joe Maddon is the manager might help attract Percival to Tampa Bay. The only problem is that Percival seems to want 2 years guaranteed and the Rays want to offer a contract similar to the one they gave Al Reyes (one year with a 2nd year option).

Trades – The Rays haven’t been too busy on this front. They traded OF Chris Snelling for cash (they claimed him off of waivers) and haven’t done much outside of that. They have had teams ask about Carl Crawford, Scott Kazmir, and Delmon Young and they have asked for the farm in return for those players, rightfully so. Rocco Baldelli could be traded but it appears the Rays are going to let him play to gain more value on him first, especially with all the centerfielders available this winter. Jonny Gomes is a name I’ve heard that can be had but the asking price is young pitching.

One trade I think the Rays should explore (and this is purely exploratory by myself) is one involving 1B Carlos Pena. His value is at its absolute highest right now. He is under control for two more years as well. His agent, Scott Boras, has said he won’t sign more than a two year deal with the Rays right now and that he will take his player to free agency unless he gets a big contract. The Rays don’t seem to be planning on paying him what Boras wants and I think they should shop him. I think the Rays could land a Tim Lincecum type if the include top prospect Desmond Jennings in the trade. The Rays would then take South Carolina switch hitting 1B Justin Smoak with the first overall pick. I would then move Gomes to 1B if he can handle it. Pure speculation on my part.

40-Man Roster – The Rays declined a cheap option on DH/RF/1B Greg Norton just to make room on the 40-man roster for their overflow of prospects. The Rays still had some tough choices to make in who to add to their 40-man roster. Top catching prospect John Jaso (who I think should get a look in Spring Training but most likely needs at least half a year in AAA) was added, he hit .316/.408/.484 with 12 homers, 24 doubles, 2 triples, 71 RBI, 62 runs, and a 59/49 BB/K rate in 380 AA at-bats. Also added were: outfielder Fernando Perez (.308/.423/.481 with 8 homers, 24 doubles, 10 triples, 84 runs, 32 steals and a 76/104 BB/K rate in 393 AA at-bats), left handed pitcher James Houser (5-4, 3.65 ERA, 90/39 K/BB rate in 103.2 IP with a .230 BAA in AA, he was 12-4 in high-A in 2006), and last year’s unprotected outfielder Jason Pridie (.303/.352/.487 with 14 homers, 32 doubles, 11 triples, 26 steals, 89 runs, and 66 RBI in 524 at-bats between AA and AAA).

These three players were left off and could be taken in the Rule-V draft: RHP Evan Meek (69 K in 67 IP over 44 relief games with only 2 homers allowed), 1B Chris Nowak (.304/.396.440 with 7 homers, 21 doubles, 4 triples, 18 steals, 54 runs, 55 RBI, and a 54/73 BB/K rate over 368 AA at-bats and in 2006 he posted a .308/.397/.478 with 11 homers, 45 doubles, 3 triples, 17 stelas, 93 runs, 103 RBI, and 69/83 BB/K rate in 494 high-A at-bats), and RHP Nick DeBarr (3.47 ERA in 83 IP over 53 relief games).

Rule 5 picks must stay on the 25-man roster or major-league disabled list of the team that selects them for the entire season or be offered back to their former team. It costs $50,000 to draft the player, with the money going to the team that had the player. If the player is returned the team gets $25,000 of back for the team that originally had the player. Nick DeBarr and Jason Pridie experienced this in the past.

Miscellaneous – The Rays have gone through some changes. They dropped “Devil” from their name, got new jerseys, and are going through the process of building a new stadium.

The Rays are doing things correctly this winter. They have needs but those needs won’t be filled by adding a Carlos Silva type for $40M. Save the money for now, build from within, and make trades that help the team now and in the future. The Rays are doing those exact things and I expect them to win more games than ever before and they could be 2008’s version of the Rockies.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

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Relievers cashing in: Cordero -$46M and Linebrink – $19M! Rays close to signing Troy Percival to a multiyear deal

13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Erik  |  November 26, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    You are shooting for the moon if you think the Rays will get Tim Lincecum for Carlos Pena. First off, Free Agents can not be traded until after June 15th. Secondly, Tim Lincecum will probably be in a deal with the Marlins in order for SF to land Miguel Cabrera which is the hot rumor coming out of SF. I think if the Rays are going to Trade some people the ones likely to be on their way out of Tampa are: Baldelli possibly to the Braves for maybe Chuck James and the other deal will involve Elijah Dukes… possibly to the Nationals.

    Reply
  • 2. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  November 26, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    I don’t think that’s the moon at all. Pena isn’t a free agent at all, he’s arbitration eligible for the next two years which means he’s under control of the team that acquires him. Adding Desmond Jennings might pry Lincecum free if. Maybe one more player too but that would be a good package to start with.

    Baldelli has been rumored everywhere but I think the Rays are only going to trade him if they get equal value. He’s only at 50 cents on the dollar now and playing time is the only way to gain value.

    Dukes will be traded and you are right, probably to the Nats. Manny Acta was actually at a Dominacan game to see him and Dmitri Young has openly expressed intrest in mentoring him. He can be had for fairly cheap too. Good move for the Nats.

    Reply
  • 3. Aaron Boynton  |  November 26, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    I am surprised they haven’t just given up on Baldelli and cut him. Why would any team take a chance on him? He’s too injury prone.

    Reply
  • 4. Kifyttrium.Com » Rays Offseason Progress  |  November 26, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    interesting post

    Reply
  • 5. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  November 27, 2007 at 8:11 am

    They won’t cut Baldelli because he is owed money and they would have to eat it. Teams have incquired about him because he’s young and if he is healthy he is going to be an all-star. But you’re right, he has to stay healthy. The Rays are doing the right thing and waiting to get his value up by playing him and letting teams see he is healthy.

    Reply
  • 6. Charlie Nehl  |  November 27, 2007 at 10:22 am

    Yeah, if anything the Rays will move Baldelli while he does have a little worth, and not turn into Mark Prior, who is probably worth a bag of sunflower seeds. Don’t know if the Cubs will even tender him a contract.

    They should keep Pena this season, till at least the deadline. If he has any sort of season like he did last year, hello prospects! Dukes should be moved too. He is bad need of a fresh start, and could probably start for the Nationals (if they don’t land Andruw Jones).

    I like the moves of Upton to CF, Iwaramura to 2B, and then promoting Eva(n) Longoria to full time 3rd. That’ll make for some good D. Izturis could provide a little bit of veteran ballplaying, but I wouldn’t go as far as say as veteran leadership. He’s no better than a 8 or 9 batter, but could be had really cheap.

    I doubt any of the Cubs / Carl Crawford rumors will pan out, but hot damn I’d love to see Crawford batting 2nd behind Soriano and patrolling center.

    Reply
  • 7. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  November 27, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Good call. The Prior Baldelli comparison is spot on. If the Rays can only work out a one year deal with Pena then a trade in July wouldn’t be a bad idea. Dukes to the Nats almost seems like it’ll happen. Crawford to the Cubs… Keep wishing!

    Reply
  • 8. Kev  |  December 1, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    You’re doing a fine job here. Better I think than most of the local print and TV media guys (I’ve said that before, huh?).

    Of course I think the Rays were a bit tired of D Young, but that they didn’t quite get as much as they gave up. They did feel needs from a surplus position of strength. Yes I’d rather that they got better players in return or gave up less to get what they got, but at least I think they are better now with less headaches and perhaps with better team chemistry that will help as well.

    The guys the Rays got better live up to their potential. If they play well and D. Young gets in trouble then this might not seem so one sided, but right now I think the Twins made out more but the Rays did OK as well.

    The ironic thing was that FSN FL just showed a Twins vs Rays encore of a game from early last season and it talked about the Twins making trades and rarely getting things wrong and I think the announcers were right and I think we just saw it happen for the Twins again.

    The Rays and the Twins might make good trading partners again in the future since they supposedly have so much pitching and the Rays seem to have so much of everything else (except catcher). And pitching seems to be the hardest area to find, especially for the Rays who except for perhaps Shields, never seem to develop their own pitching.

    Perhaps G. Jenkins can be made to play catcher…lol. Norton (and Pridie) is (are) gone, but I don’t see a need for Jenkins. Unless more deals are done and that changes the surplus outfield situation.

    Percival may not be the be all end all answer, but I’m glad the Rays got him as he has to be better than much of what they had last year as long as he stays healthy.

    Of course I like Rocco, but when is he going to stay healthy. He’s becoming like Josh Hamilton was, just in a different way. All promise and no results.

    I can’t wait to see Longoria!

    Did you comment about the new uni’s? I don’t like that they took Tampa Bay off. And I thought they were going with royal blue and gold. I think I would have liked that better than blue and light blue. I didn’t mind devil rays. I hated when people shortened it to D-Rays which just seemed so wrong. So now perhaps that will stop. I wanted Sting Rays from the beginning and I don’t follow their excuses about that being used by Schwinn and Chevy. Other teams call themselves the Lightning etc, so what’s the difference? But I’m o.k. with Rays and the new look, but I did like the vests and the alternate jerseys as well.

    Of course Bartlet is a stop gap because Brignac is earmarked for that spot eventually. How long until then is the question.

    Do you think they can upgrade at catcher until Jaso is ready or do think another Joe Mauer will be available to draft this year or are you that sold about Jaso that it doesn’t matter?

    Again good job, but I didn’t see your take on the new ballpark idea. Did I just miss it or are you waiting? I like the idea of making our version of San Frans park, but I wonder if 34000 is enough and about parking and about the humidity issue. Redoing where the Trop is now should also be a boon for St Pete and our Tampa Bay Region. I’ve lived all over the Tampa Bay area and I think of it as it is as a region and that these teams represent the whole area, but a bunch of short sided spoiled people who evidently haven’t deployed to sad areas of the world to see how bad things in life can really be, like to in-fight about this part or that part of the Tampa Bay area. Makes me wish we would change the name of the Bay to a neutral name so that when someone talks about the area they would know it’s about the area and not about one city out of many cities in the area or one county out of many counties in the area. If the bay was McKay Bay or what ever and the teams were the McKay Bay whatever team that happens to play in Tampa or is located in St Pete that would end the confusion much of the country and some in this area seem to have.

    Keep up the good work and let’s hope the Rays keep improving and moving on up (they can’t go any lower) (and maybe pick up some more talent) and also cash in on another top drafting spot this year.

    We need good people like the people here comment on the Rays official message board as well because it’s been taken over by a bunch of negative thugs.

    Sorry this was so long. I’ll try to comment more often so each can be smaller. Thanks for your time and consideration. Keep up the good work.

    p.s. how did you get to talk to D. Young so much? You don’t really have a press pass or sumpin,’ do ya?

    Reply
  • 9. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  December 3, 2007 at 10:07 am

    I got to talk to him just by being persistent. Knowing where the players are when they leave, before the game. I’ve just heard him talk to fans, make gestures to fans that the camera misses, and he was just smug when I wanted to talk to him about baseball.

    I’ve been on the official message board and it is annoying. It is very negative there.

    We didn’t do the article on the new unis and stadium because there were better articles about them out there.

    One thing I have to disagree with is the “Bay” name. I think Tampa Bay is fine. People realize it’s a metropolitan area. The only thing is that in Tampa we want to claim the teams for ourselves so I can see your argument there.

    Keep the good commenting coming! It’s always good to hear from you!

    Reply
  • 10. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  December 3, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    The Nats and Rays have scheduled 5pm press conferences so it makes it all but certain that Dukes in going to the Nats.

    The Rays also made Edwin Jackson available and they want a catcher or 1B/OF and the Mariners may give Ben Broussard for him. The Mariners have shown significant interest in Jackson.

    Reply
  • 11. Kev  |  December 3, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    An upgrade at catcher, one with experience to lead the young pitching staff and teach the future catchers, i.e. Riggans, Jaso would be great. I understand the Tampa BAY Rays want a left handed bat as well as part of the equation.

    Do you see any left handed bats and/or catchers that would be a good fit for the Rays?

    If E. Jackson gets traded for a non-pitcher or at least a non-starter, who do you see as the fourth and fifth pitchers this season for the Rays?

    Reply
  • 12. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  December 3, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    I would love to see Barrett in Tampa but he’s a type-A free agent and wants a good deal. Jackson for Broussard is a good deal. Broussard can play 1B and OF and DH. The 4 and 5 spots in the rotation will be filled by Sonnanstine and a pick of Hammel, Howell, or maybe Talbot or even Niemann (who I think will end up a stud reliever).

    Reply
  • 13. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  December 6, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    The Rays, still looking for a left-handed-hitting right fielder, are pursuing the Astros’ Luke Scott.

    Rays are showing significant interest in Michael Barrett but they will have to give up the first pick in the 2nd round to sign him.

    Rays selected outfielder Rashad Eldridge with the first pick of the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft.

    The Rays took Tim Lahey in the Rule-V draft and traded him to the Cubs in a pre-arraanged deal.

    Evan Meek was taken from the Rays by the Pirates with the #2 selection in the Rule-V draft.

    Reply

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