Jan 5th 2009 1:58PM by Matt Snyder (author feed)
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Pat Burrell is about to sign a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. Rosenthal reports the deal will be worth $16 million. Burrell has played each of his nine major league seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies — the very team that defeated the Rays in the 2008 World Series.
Burrell brings his power bat with him — he’s hit at least 29 home runs and driven in at least 86 runs in the past four years, while keeping his slugging percentage up above .500. He fits in well with the Rays lineup, as he’s greatly increased his on-base percentage in the past four seasons as well. With over 100 walks for the second consecutive year in 2008, Burrell sported a .367 OBP.
Burrell will be able to play right field alongside Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton, or he could better be used as a designated hitter. He figures to fit nicely into the middle of the lineup and will provide protection for Evan Longoria and/or Upton.
Jan 6th 2009 9:00AM by Josh Alper (author feed)
This year’s free agent market has been only slightly less frozen than the world’s credit markets. There have been a paltry number of deals completed despite a contending team’s worth of free agents available to interested bidders. At long last, the first Monday of the New Year brought some activity.
Three free agents made headlines by agreeing to or closing in on new deals, and all three are cut from similar cloth. Pat Burrell agreed to a two-year, $16 million contract with the AL champions in Tampa, Milton Bradley is heading to Wrigley for three years and $30 million and Jason Giambi is reportedly very close to agreeing to a deal bringing him back to the A’s.
Giambi’s rumored to be signing for one year, perhaps with an option year, which makes it clear that the glut of players suited for corner positions or DH has made for a buyer’s market. So, operating under the assumption that all three teams made good deals, which player will have the biggest impact on their new club’s postseason hopes?Continue Reading
Jan 4th 2009 2:08PM by Matt Snyder (author feed)
The aging Ken Griffey Jr. is being connected in rumors to the Tampa Bay Rays, Seattle Mariners, one other American League team, and two National League teams.
With the Rays, Griffey would get a chance to play close to home and likely would have a shot at finally winning his first World Series ring. With Seattle, Griffey would get to close out his illustrious career in the same place where it began. The main problem is that there doesn’t seem to be much hope for the Mariners to be competitive this season.
I’m a bit surprised to hear about two National League teams being in the fray. At age 39, Griffey’s not near the defender he once was, nor is he remotely durable. Playing the field greatly increases his chances of getting injured and, in turn, hampers his offensive productivity. In a designated hitter role, he could still be productive enough to help a team — even a contending one.Continue Reading
Dec 23rd 2008 1:49PM by Pat Lackey (author feed)
When word came out last week that Rocco Baldelli’s mysterious fatigue-causing ailment was much less serious than previous thought, it seemed like a good bet that interest in the free agent would ramp up. It certainly seems like that’s the case, as there seem to be at least six teams interested in his services — the Rays, Reds, Pirates, Indians, Yankees, and Red Sox.
It seems like the most serious interest is coming from the National League Central, where both the Reds and Pirates seem to be very interested in the outfielder, with stories in both the and mentioning the interest of the local teams. It would seem that if Baldelli is after a starting job, perhaps to prove that he can be healthy and perform over a full year, he’d likely get a better chance at that by signing a short-term deal with one of those two teams. Contenders like the Rays, Red Sox, or Yankees are likely more interested in using him as a role player due to all of the questions still surrounding his ability to play a full year.
Then again, Baldelli hit fairly well in his short stint with Tampa in 2008 and was one of the more promising young players in baseball before his slew of injuries started to take their toll. If he is indeed healthy and can round himself into shape after playing less than a full season’s worth of games since 2004, whoever signs him is likely going to get themselves a nice deal on a starting center fielder.
Dec 17th 2008 11:19AM by Pat Lackey (author feed)
For most of the year last year, Rocco Baldelli tried to figure out what was wrong with him. He knew he had a disease that was sapping the energy out of him, but no one was certain of what it was. Late in the year, doctors diagnosed him with mitochondrial myopathy, an untreatable genetic disease that would affect him for the rest of his life. It was pretty grim news, but Baldelli seemed happy simply to know what was wrong with him.
After the season ended, Baldelli went to the Cleveland Clinic for a second opinion and got some good news; he doesn’t have mitochondrial myopathy at all. Instead, he’s now being diagnosed with channelopathy. Channelopathy is actually an incredibly wide-ranging term used to describe any sort of ion-channel disorder (I won’t go into ion channels, but we’ll say it’s a cellular problem and leave it at that), but the good news for Baldelli is that it appears that whatever form he has, it’s treatable.
Perhaps even better news, for him, is that he’s still a free agent. Every team interested in him, especially NL teams, were faced with the uncertainty of how his disease would affect his play. He was barely able to play right field for the Rays last year because of his fatigue. Now, it would seem that it’s no longer an issue. Because his fatigue was also responsible for many of the leg problems that kept him out of action for long stretches since 2005, whoever signs him may get much more than we expected going in to the off-season.
Dec 11th 2008 1:40PM by Matt Watson (author feed)
The Tigers came to Las Vegas looking for a closer, and for a little while, it looked like they might get one. Before the Mariners, Indians and Mets pulled off their monster, 12-player deal that sent J.J. Putz to New York, the Tigers were trying to land Putz with a three-way of their own involving the Mariners and the Rays.
As Geoff Baker of the tells it, the deal fell apart when the Tigers refused to part with outfielder Matt Joyce … which makes the trade Detroit pull off all the more confusing. On Wednesday evening, the Tigers sent Joyce to the Rays for 25-year-old Edwin Jackson, a perpetual project of a pitcher who’s posted a 5.15 ERA through parts of six seasons.
Sure, Jackson is coming off a career year, but that just means he looked like a league average pitcher: he posted a 4.42 ERA (101 ERA+) with an unsightly 1.50 WHIP. While it’s true he tied for the team lead with 14 wins, he was an afterthought in Tampa Bay’s playoff run, getting left off the roster completely in the first round and combined for fewer than five innings pitched in the ALCS and World Series.Continue Reading
Dec 8th 2008 10:25PM by Andrew Johnson (author feed)
Our MLB editor files dispatches from this year’s Winter Meetings in Las Vegas in Notes From Sin City.
Fresh off his honeymoon in Europe, Rays manager Joe Maddon talked with the media this afternoon. Despite an AL East title and a World Series appearance, it should come as no surprise that Tampa Bay has been overshadowed by the Red Sox and Yankees so far this offseason.
That isn’t preventing the Rays from looking ahead to next season. Winning 97 games in 2008 was no accident, but repeating that feat with Boston and New York poised to load up on top-tier free agents will not be easy. Here are the highlights from his briefing:
- Maddon said the Rays will probably be able to spend more money this winter than last — likely because of their playoff windfall — but he doesn’t know how much they’ll be increasing payroll, if at all. Of course, they don’t have all that much to improve upon with the vast majority of their roster young, talented and inexpensive.
“The preference is to make us better offensively,” said Maddon. The Rays were ninth in the American League in runs last year, and could pick and choose from the plethora of corner outfield and DH bats available this winter.
Maddon confirmed that he and members of the Tampa Bay front office had lunch with free agent Milton Bradley. He raved about the way Bradley “never throws an at-bat away” and offered no reservations about his character. “People grow up, people change,” said Maddon. “This guy is all about winning.”Continue Reading
Dec 8th 2008 11:20PM by Andrew Johnson (author feed)
Three managers of AL East teams spoke with the media this afternoon/evening (for a more extended look at the Rays, try this), and with very little happening on the first day in Las Vegas, it’s a good time to look at baseball’s most imposing division.
The standard for excellence in the other divisions in baseball is roughly 90-92 wins. That’s not the case in the East, where 95 wins are almost always required to guarantee a spot in the postseason.
For a team like the Orioles, that can be awfully intimidating. While the Yankees have their hand in virtually every free-agent pie, Baltimore is relegated to building slowly, to nurturing the farm system and hoping its young players pay off big in the near future.
“It’s a great time to be an up and coming prospect in our organization,” said manager Dave Trembley. But even with a collection of impressive young talent — names like Matt Wieters, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Nolan Reimold — the O’s are facing long odds and Trembley has no pie-in-the-sky aspirations, merely repeating the mantra “we have to get better.”
Well, yeah, but the rub is just how much better they actually have to get.Continue Reading
Dec 3rd 2008 10:17AM by Matt Snyder (author feed)
Hold on. Why would you trade Evan Longoria after the run the Rays just made, going all the way to the World Series? He’s young, he’s -
Oh, not him.
Well, Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton had off-years, so they can’t really be the team MVP.
James Shields? Matt Garza?
Regardless, why on God’s green Earth would an up-and-coming team like the Rays trade any of these guys.
They aren’t, but they are looking to trade the little guy they named team MVP.
For some reason void of any logic or rational thought whatsoever, their “team MVP” was Jason Bartlett this past season. He of the averageish defense, good speed, and 82 OPS plus. That’s right, the Rays’ team MVP was a well-below-average hitter. He’s got good range, but not great, defensively. He stole 20 bases, so there’s that. I’m just trying to find some other legitimate reason he was voted their team MVP. Nothing stat-wise jumps out at me. He only played 128 games, so it’s not like you can say something like, “with Longoria and Crawford hurt, he was the ironman of the team.” You could try to say something about his attitude, I guess, but would his have really meant that much more than adding Troy Percival or subtracting Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes? And did they really win by staying positive, or by actually playing well?Continue Reading
Nov 25th 2008 6:41PM by Matt Snyder (author feed)
I remember when it was announced that Rocco Baldelli was diagnosed with mitochondrial disorder at the beginning of the 2008 season. It was sad. Here you had a dude who just could never stay healthy. He wasn’t just sitting out and gathering paychecks without attempting to come back and play. He was just a guy with miserable fortunes when it came to staying healthy.
After the latest diagnosis, it was thought his career was over. Instead, he fought back and got back on the field for 28 regular season games and eight postseason games — he even hit two home runs in only 20 postseason at-bats.
For these and many more inspirational achievements this season, Rocco Baldelli has won the Tony Conigliaro Award. The award is given to a player who has “overcome adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination, and courage.” You get it, just like the namesake of the award, who never got to scratch the surface of his enormous potential due to having his face caved in by a pitch at age 23.
Some past winners of the award who battled notable adversity include Jim Eisenreich, Dickie Thon, Jim Abbott, Eric Davis, Tony Saunders, and Jon Lester — last season’s winner.