It was about time. I truly think it was a month or so past due to take out the trash, but finally the era of the “convoluted contract” is over in Tampa Bay. Finally there is some finite closure to the whining and egotistical demands made by Hank Blalock on at least two opportunities before the Tampa Bay Rays reluctantly brought him up with the Big team. Finally there will be so joy in Rays-ville for the might Blalock is gone lock, stock and bat barrel.
With the Rays finally pulling the trigger and designating him for assignment, they have effectively sent Blalock home to Ranchero Santa Fe, California to re-think his logic to getting back to the Major Leagues full-time. But hopefully, it will not be with the Rays. The team could still offer him a Triple-A deal, but I hope Blalock decided to move in another direction…far away from Tampa Bay. This action was really past due in my mind based basically on his blatant disregard for protocol and using the media to spin his wheels in motion back to the Major Leagues.
The Rays front office finally reached down deep inside their mindset and saw a mediocre utility player who basically verbally extorted them in to compliance to the Majors again, then appeared in only 25 Rays games. The Rays could see that their “Less than a Million Dollar Man” was in fact an overpriced benchwarmer who produced only a .254 average with a lone Home Run and 7measily RBI while up with the Rays. Here was a guy who tossed out accolades and performances, but then looked like a wet firecracker when needed. It was a great inexpensive experiment, but had horrendous results.
This was the guy the Rays chose to take the place of another “B”-list player, Pat Burrell instead of other capable MLB quality players stirring the pot in Durham. Former MLB players Dan Johnson and Joe Dillon, who also were having breakout seasons at Triple-A were bypassed for the charming vocal (sarcasm) renditions of Blalock. Either one of the above mentioned hitters would have been an improvement over Mr Blalock, and all three of them can play multiple positions on the field.
Some team around the game might need a average bench bat or a utility player like Blalock, but I hope the rest of the MLB paid close attention to the series of farces Blalock the negotiator played on the Rays management. Hopefully Blalock will play it smarter next time and let his bat do the talking. Some will throw the blame of the end of Spring Training rant, plus the May manic cry for promotion to ‘bring me up or let me go” towards his agent, Scott Boras. But it was Blalock who stood firmly behind those words and quotes. If he felt Boras had pushed too hard, he never voiced that opinion or showed an ounce of remorse.
It was Blalock who thrust his chest out like he was the Rays answer at their dismal Designated Hitters spot., I would characterize Blalock’s Rays tenure as lukewarm ( at best). But there will be those voices heard loud amongst the baseball world that think Blalock was about to break out after posting a 7-19 (.368) mark with 3 walks over his last 9 Rays games. Combine that with his 2010 InterLeague mark of 8-23 (.357) with 5 walks and his only Home Run off Houston’s Bud Norris, and some might say this Rays move was a tad bit premature.
By the Rays deciding to reactivate Gabe Kapler for the Disabled List last night, and send Blalock packing, it might speak volumes about what the Rays expected out of Blalock after all his distractions and banter.
It seemed that Blalock used his mouth to sign check his talents could not cash with the Rays. I am so glad Blalock was designated during an away series and not a home game. Now Blalock can slither away in peace without a throng of Rays fans shouting or throwing fake love towards him in exchange for a parting gift autograph . Some might see this as a extreme measure by the Rays to break a cursed losing streak. The reality is that Blalock has been a part-time player during his brief stay when the Rays needs a full-time leader and DH right now.
When Blalock first signed with the Rays I was hoping he left his bad baggage still in Texas and did not bring his brash, hard nosed attitude with him to Port Charlotte this Spring. But we all know how that worked out as Blalock cried and whined like a little child when he was not awarded one of the final roster spots. Immediately it threw up huge red flags to me of his past Rangers rants. I smelled danger on the horizon, but the Rays took their lumps and finally got him to agree ( after a nice $$ bump) to go to Triple-A and wait his turn.
Then in May, Blalock wanted to either be in a Rays uniform, or be let go to shop his talents elsewhere, and the Rays let him saunter into the Rays clubhouse on May 15th, as former Ray Pat Burrell was packing his bags.
J. Meric /Getty Images Immediately he was on the clock (with me) to prove he was the solid choice. Just because you work out and carry a strong work ethic doesn’t mean it translates into instant game time production. Blalocks’ gun was not loaded with blanks, but his hit and miss mentality began to grow thin with the Rays, and they cut the cord…….thankfully.
Blalock might go on to prove the Rays wrong, and that would be good for him and his career, but his time here in Tampa Bay is over now. Who knows if he might mimic fellow former Rays DH Burrell and find a spot to rejuvenate and rebuild his career. All I know it is time to finally rest easy and know that the Blalock experiment is over in Tampa Bay.
No longer will we see a guy who promised results swing and miss in a critical moment (15 K’s in 63 appearances). No longer will we see a guy brought in to help produce runs have a lower Slugging Percentage than Carlos Pena. No longer is their sorrow in Rays-ville…for the might Blalock has gone home. Do not let the door hit you on the way out.