Rays Covert (Signing) Ops Team nets them Leslie Anderson

Trying to follow the Tampa Bay Rays Front Office is becoming more difficult as their “silence is golden” trade chatter blackout grip has become even more tight-lipped and further tweaked beyond any type of white noise in the last few seasons. Now that the Rays can effectively have out-of-sight, out-of-mind multiple Rays staffers and attorneys cloaked in darkness back in the Rays offices in St. Petersburg do a lot of the legwork out of the vision of any eagle eyed journalists or bloggers, getting any morsel or tasty tidbit is getting particularly difficult for us to supply to the Rays baseball hungry fans. 

And today’s announcement of the Rays signing the former Cuban National Team multi-positional player Leslie Anderson to a $ 3.75million /4 year contract, the signing had most of us online, and sniffing around the team’s Spring Training complex caught completely off guard by this Rays move. Most of the Rays Republic knew that the Rays had set their sights by offering a possible contract to fellow Cuban refugee Jose Julio Ruiz in February. And some people actually thought the Rays might have had an upper hand in possibly signing Ruiz seeing that Tampa Bay had the second highest Hispanic population in the Southeastern segment of the United States.

The Rays presented Ruiz’s agent with a $ 2 million offer back in February, but with the recent hurricane brewing within Ruiz’s camp with his firing of his agent, and the ensuing turmoil, maybe the Rays quickly switched their previous focal point on Ruiz, and took another route without being noticed, and ultimately signed the versatile 27-year old Anderson.

And the wild part is that Anderson, who is also a left-handed hitter like Ruiz, might end up being the most versatile of the two players having played both First Base and the Centerfield for Camaguey in the Cuban Baseball League before leaving Cuba in September and becoming available to all 30 Major League Baseball clubs this January.

This signing might just be a great future insurance policy for the Rays since Anderson has been projected to be able to play multiple positions. And with the possibilities of Anderson also playing any of the three outfield positions, it increased the Rays appetite to include Anderson to their system. Most fans might remember Anderson has played Rightfield for the Cuban National Team during the last two World Baseball Classics. 

Before Anderson was moved to First Base while with Camaguey in 2009, he was the team’s starting Centerfielder and considered a great gap hitter with the potential for at least 15-20 Home Runs at the Major League level. And with Anderson’s potential to play all three outfield positions, plus First Base, Anderson brings to the plate another interesting set of future scenarios if the Rays can not entertain Carl Crawford or Carlos Pena to stay with the team when their contracts expire following the 2010 season.

Anderson might actually be a more advanced in his plate discipline than Ruiz, and boasts some really impressive numbers while with Camaguey, where he finished fifth in the Cuban Baseball League with a .381 Batting Average. But more impressive still might be his almost identical numbers against left-handers (.379) and right-handers (.383) to show that Anderson might just be the great addition to the Rays future roster by showing superior numbers from both sides of the plate and might end the Rays platooning outfield spots in the near future. 

And you got to give Rays Director of Scouting R J Harrison and Rays Director of International Relations, Carlos Alfonso a huge double high-five on their department’s Black Ops work to go totally on the deep down low and stay completely off the baseball radar with possible baseball workouts with Anderson without causing any sort of attention being focused towards the Rays or Anderson taking place this Spring.

 

 

And you know it was not a small group of Rays staffers’ involved in trying to keep this quiet, but it still amazes me time after time how the Rays have been so silent until they finally announce their signings without a lot of rumor chatter. The usual rumors that have been played have come from the other player’s reps or agents and not from within the Rays office. That in itself is amazing to me.

 

But this is the path that baseball is beginning to take with instant communications by a bevy of options available at our fingertips. With the addition of instant video conferencing even by cellphone now, baseball workouts can be broadcast back to team officials on a constant stream of video while the players participate in hitting, or even fielding in an arranged simulated game. And maybe the Rays might be viewed as ruining the trade system by staying tightlipped before getting a player’s John Hancock on the dotted line, but in essence, if that is what it takes to get the job done, then I am all for this new Rays personnel mentality. 

Anderson’s signing was not expected by most of us following the Rays this Spring. Most of us within the Rays Republic thought the team was slowly reeling in Ruiz towards finally signing with the Rays instead of hauling in another big fish like Anderson. Reality is that the Rays could still maybe also sign Ruiz in the near future as another future fixture to combat high payroll concerns. And both players effectively co-existing on the same Rays roster should bring a level of excitement to Rays fans. And maybe that is another unsung victory for the Rays scouting department and office staff in not only getting Anderson signed, sealed and delivered, but covering it all in a cloak of mystery, which is really impressive.

Who knows to what extent Anderson will benefit the Rays in 2010, but you know he will have a definite imprint on future Rays squads, and maybe a possible new competition battle in the Spring of 2011 as he makes his mark within the Rays farm system. Looking at both the positives and negatives of both players, the Rays might have picked the one total package multi-dimensional player who will not bring both a sense of drama and uncertainty instantly towards the Rays franchise’s system. 

It is still too early to project any possible scenarios for Anderson, but I could see him being assigned to either Double-A Montgomery and worked out at first base, and then begin his rise through the Rays system with a possible MLB debut date in Tropicana Field maybe in September 2010. And if he does get to the Major League level in 2010, could Anderson be one of those late season additions that propels the Rays again towards the Playoffs. This might not happen, but I like to be optimistic when I talk about these 2010 Rays. Because I really feel another “Magical”-type season brewing under the surface and this Anderson signing could be a great ingredient to the total mixture.

 

9 Comments

yep… the Anderson deal was definitely a black ops type action… kudos to the Rays for the signing…
~peter
Outside the Phillies Looking In
http://devilabrit.mlblogs.com

Maybe somebody should make a movie about the Rays’ covert activities. Lots of intrigue. Sounds like an interesting signing for you guys. P.S. Could you please make it stop raining there? I’m leaving tomorrow and am flying into Orlando, where they have tornado warnings up!

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Peter,
The way the Rays have been able to do things under the radar or divert attention the other direction and do and end-around and sign people is the reason Rays Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman is the best at his job right now.
Seriously, with a guy like Gerry Hunsicker standing next to you showing you tricks, the ropes and the way to always come out on top, Friedman has emerged as a diamond in the Rays rough.
Funny how he has only been with the team for less than 5 years and people are freaking out to know his strategy.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Jane,
I wish I had that kind of power over Mother Nature, but she does like my eyes (lol).
The storm system is hitting us again in the morning, and hopefully by mid-afternoon it will begin to disappear.
But should be sunny skies for your gig in Stuart on Saturday, and hopefully we can furnish you some upper 60’s to 70’s duirng your Spring jaunt across the country.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Rays,
Good pick up on Anderson. He played well in the classic and it should be interesting to see where he ends up in your guys’ system this season. I got a couple questions for ya:
What do you think about the recent pick up of Blalock, will he play?

I see you guys took Baldelli back from us, what do you think he’s going to do with his season?

Fill me in!
Krimp

Bueno bueno! Venga Venga! Los Cubanos tienen lo poder! Signing a Cuban generally leads to good things.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

Krimp,
Actually Hank Ballock will see his first action tomorrow against the Florida Marlins, but not sure if it will be at DH or in the field yet.
His contract gives him more leeway than the Rays probably wanted to give him, but I have a sneaking feeling Carlos Pena is not 100 percent right now. And with Willy Aybar coming back from a wrist ailment….His veteran experience might come in handy.
But Blalock might be the only one who knows if he would stay right now. And Elliot Johnson giving up his # 9 to Blalock is not a usual Spring thing to do….Interesting move.
As for Baldelli, he is an roving minor league instructor right now because of a shoulder injury suffered late in 2009 while he was with the Red Sox.

I am actually looking at him as a “back pocket” options for the Rays if Pat Burrell goes into the dumpster and doesn’t come out in 2010. Always good to have someone who can play in mind if a bad situation presents itself…Baldelli would be a good fill-in DH if injury or Burrell implodes upon himself.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Jeff,
Only you could remind me of my errors of my youth and not to have taken a Spanish class (lol).
I took French, German and Russian, but never learned the one language that is considered a closely contested bi-lateral language in Florida.
But it is always good to have a Cuban player on the team….And we still have Bobby Ramos! He is Cuban by the way!

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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