Great Scott!

Not sure if I should send an edible fruit bouquet or an animated “thank You” card to Rays Executive VP of Baseball Operations. I know some found the “Ghost Protocol” blog a bit far-fetched or even too realistic, but the pure fact is the Rays were on silent running because they did not want the rest of the AL East to know they finally got the player Friedman has asked about for the past 2 Trade Deadlines.

I honestly think the signing of Luke Scott to a one year deal with a club option for 2013 is a firm step in the positive direction of finding a Designated Hitter that can grow within the Rays fold. Sure Scott might be a bit of a late bloomer, but they said the same thing about Jonny Gomes when he was a DH, and he blossomed quite nicely after leaving for the Reds and eventually being traded to the Nationals.

Considering Scott also has a home in Florida located in De Leon Springs (Volusia county). The only thing that could possibly stand in the way of Scott taking the Rays DH role and pouncing on it is a setback from his July 2011 shoulder (torn right labrum) surgery. But all indications are that his rehab has been productive, and Scott should be ready to go in about 45-50 days at full steam and is currently in the midst of his own intense off-season workout regimen. Scott also could see some time possibly during the Inter-League portion of the 2012 schedule in the outfield if his throwing shoulder has healed sufficiently.

He seems to be the offensive weapon the Rays have been seeking for a few seasons, with Friedman always asking the Orioles about his availability come late July, and always finding the prospective package too rich for the Rays blood. But when Scott is healthy, he could be a godsend to a Rays offense that at time rolls into a hitting funk at the wrong moments. Scott has hit 23 or more home each season from 2008-2010 before he was limited to 9 HRs over his 64 games in 2011. In his best showing for the birds, Scott hit for a .284 average with 27 HR, 72 RBI and a .368 on-base percentage back in 2010.

Still, it was great the Rays could finally get Scott without having to send prospects or even MLB ready players to their divisional foes the Orioles thanks in part to them non-tendering Scott earlier in the off-season. The terms of Scott’s 2012 Rays contract are still being ironed out, but you can bet there will be plenty of room for incentives if Scott can knock the cover off the ball or deposit some nice white souvenirs into the Trop’s stands. Scott does come to the Rays with the accolades of being a top-tier offensive weapon having been selected as the Oriole’s 2010 MVO (Most Valuable Oriole). And the cherry on top of it all..He is also an avid First Baseman.

If Scott can hit anywhere close to his .500 Slugging Percentage that he has displayed in the past, he could be a nice addition and a good bit of protection for Evan Longoria. It has been a few years since Longo has had a hitter behind him who can command a pitching staff to pitch to him in fear of giving the next guy an ample chance for a run-producing at bat. Scott could be a great equalizer, especially if he gets ahead in the count and makes his rival possibly groove one in on him.

That is where Scott reminds me so much of Gomes. He has that type of power to get the bulk of the bat on the ball late and drive it towards First Avenue South with a simple twist of the wrists. That kind of consistent power display and ability has been missing with the Rays for some time. Plus with a one years deal and a 2013 club option, if the Rays and Scott do not fit together right, Scott could again be a free agent in the off-season of 2012.

Scott has a pure passion for guns and hunting, which might make him an instant friend of Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann, but he is also someone who has his opinions and is not afraid to voice it loud and proud no matter if you in his corner or not. Mark Reynolds, an old Baltimore teammate of Scott possibly has the best explanation of “Scott being Scott” :

He doesn’t hide it, he doesn’t talk behind people’s backs about anything. A lot of people have those opinions and don’t say anything. Did I think he needed to go to the Winter Meetings and say all those things” Probably not. But he’ll give you his opinion.”

So as you can see from Reynold’s comments, Scott comes with some concerns, but has generally been a positive force in the clubhouse. It is away from the playing field and his teammates that Scott has made a few less than adamant “followers”. He was a Baltimore fan favorite, being accessible and gracious to the fan base, but he did have a tendency to rub some the wrong way with his devote religious beliefs and political opinions. I think if the Rays did win the World Series in 2012, Scott might not have an instant invite to the White House.

But he has also been known to have a razor-sharp wit sometimes going above and beyond the usual lines like throwing plantain chips at a player to keep him in line. But that is another quality that is very similar to Gomes in that Scott is almost like an larger-than-life animated cartoon character in the clubhouse and vocally.

Heck, some might remember Scott ruffled a few Rays feathers in the past spouting off about former Rays hurler Matt Garza and making sure his Home Run celebrations against the Rays had a bit of an extra kick to them. So Scott might be one of those “tough love” guys, one of the people who will tell it like it is, and make you sorry you asked the question for the abrupt response to your query.

But Scott should love this region. Did you know Scott is fluent in Spanish and loves the Latin culture. That should go great with a team with plenty of Latin flair, plus a community that boasts the second largest Hispanic population in the state. In the end, the Rays got the guy they have been peering at from afar for several seasons. Scott is also a great contributor to local clinics, special events and charity events. He has the personality that can be a crowd pleaser and a seat filler not matter the event or the reason for the assembly. 

The echo of his bat meeting the ball in the trop should sound like thunder, and hopefully he will rain down a few HR showers over the course of a season. His love for all things Latin, including the language will make him likeable, respected and a quick fan favorite. I can hear the Raysvision clip now as Scott rounds the bases after hitting one into the seats. On the scene is Doctor Emmitt Brown in a clip from “Back to the Future”, and you know the line……”Great Scott!

Who knows, maybe they will use this clip……

8 Comments

I really like this signing by the Rays. Scott can play 1B, OF and DH when healthy and can hit too. Great move!

Ron

This was a great move by the Rays, Scott should be effective if healthy. I also think the Rays made the right choice by picking Scott over Damon.
The Rays Rant- http://yossif.mlblogs.com/

I think it’s a fantastic move! but i might be motivated by my anti-damonness.
But seriously- how do Rays fans feel about not re-signing Damon?
And how do they feel about all this whiny comments over the past day?
I mean, Sox fans are used to his whiny comments… but I think this is like… a new thing for you guys.

Ron,
Every season the Rays seem to go against the grain and sign someone that the rest of the MLB scratch their heads about…..This season that guy is Luke Scott. Sure he will have to rehab his throwing shoulder, possibly not being an outfield part of the team until May or June, but I have heard he is one of those weight room guys, so I think it is safe to say he will be fine. The Rays also did an intense physical on him including checking out the shoulder and got the “thumbs up” from the doctors.
Can’t wait to see Scott wrap one around the RF foul pole.

Yossiff,
I respect what Damon did in 2011, but his comments seem more bitter than thankful right now. But he is disappointed, so I will cut him some slack.
Scott has that “Gomes factor” to him that I love. He could strike out 3 times a game or deposit 3 in the RF stands, just will depend on how the AL pitches to him as he bats behind Longo. Some have wondered if he will gel with this young team, but if you can’t relate or laugh with this bunch, you might as well hang up your cleats.

Soxy,
I always saw Damon as a professional both on and off the field in his actions. Sure the posturing on Weds showed that maybe the Rays did a 180 on Damon and he was expecting a contract and a chance to hit 3,000 with the Rays. I still think keep your radar tuned in, because Damon might end up in Baltimore. I wish Johnny luck and health, but if I had to decide between the 2, Scott gets the edge not on leadership or spunk but on the power factor, which the Rays truly need to offset their offensive woes of 2011.

The signing should work, as long as Scott stays on schedule for coming back from injury. He’ll be limited to DH to start, but could still be dangerous. But, if possible, can Tampa find him a jersey that fits? Always seemed like his O’s jersey was 2 sizes too small.

As for Damon, he’ll catch on somewhere. He’s a professional professional baseball player. He’ll catch on, get paid, and turn it into an opportunity for more. I was surprised he sounded emotional to be leaving the Rays. This is the same guy who talked about being a free agent again in 2009 during his press conference for signing the contract with the Yankees in 2006. A professional professional.

Cordaro,
Seems the two players might end up just swapping teams at the end of it all. Damon is talking to the Orioles now, and Scott has said he should be good to go by Opening Day with his throwing possibly set back to May at the worst. That could put him in line for Outfield duty around the InterLeague section of the Rays 2012 schedule. Their contracts are so similar with Scott taking some incentives, but they are not based on attendance like Damon;s was in 2011….Real smart move.

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