Results tagged ‘ Chicago Cubs ’

Friedman Would Be a Coveted Cubs Acquisition

Most of the Rays Republic remembers when Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy Winn was traded basically so the team could sign former Mariner’s Manager Lou Piniella. Could we be possibly heading towards the same scenario with Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman?

It is way to early in the Chicago Cubs General Manager outreach process to venture solely into this scenario, but it does warrant at least a peek. The Cubs did get an up front and personal shot at the cunning and creative thinking of Friedman and his construction of a trade in the 2011 Winter Matt Garza deal.

What is amazing is the perception still lies in the hearts of some on the North side of Chicago that the Cubs got the best end of that deal. Others, like the Rays Republic know that Friedman pulled another beautiful rabbit out of his hat and has already gotten a great return on his swap.

Think about it for a moment. Sure Chi-town got the ever scowling Garza and his bag of tricks, but Friedman got a newfound Legend (Fuld). Friedman only has to look at the box score of his Triple-A team, the Durham Bulls to see OF Fernando Perez, another component of the Cubs trade back in the Rays system after being released by Chicago.

People around Tampa Bay are getting a bit worried that if Friedman does take a meeting with the deep-pocketed Ricketts clan. Amazing enough he only has to sit down next to his own Senior Advisor Don Zimmer who took command in Cubs stripes to hear about the advantages and struggles he would have with such a move Northward. But don’t fret yet Rays Republic, Friedman seems to love the challenge of the Rays opportunity.

But there is also a once in a lifetime challenge of helping structure and realize another World Series title in a town that yearns, begs, pleads for another chance at glory. Knowing Friedman he would have the Cubs institute a “Goat Day” where goats got in FREE just as a humorous and innovative way to ease the burden of the long held curse of Wrigley.

You know the Rays and Friedman are going to be confronted with this situation. Even Garza, who was traded by Friedman is shouting his name to the Heavens as a key component of the Rays climb from the cellar to contenders in such a short time span.

We know the Boston Red Sox will do everything in their power to block a chance of Theo Epstein even texting the Cubs organization. With a tongue-in-cheek comment a few days ago from someone that the Cubs want to build a Red Sox Nation in the West, battle lines and formations both by the Boston fans and front office went up fast to secure any chance of a Epstein defection or seduction.

Friedman has one of the most innovative minds since Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane. The “Rays Way” has been a perfect model of how to build a competitive unit with a minimalistic budget. Friedman’s team is responsible for one of the best scouting units and farm systems in baseball. Even if Friedman isn’t submerged in the day-to-day heartbeat of this system, he gets the glowing comments by association.

How ironic would it be if Friedman did get a chance to go to the friendly ivy-lined confines of Wrigley Field. Would he be treated like a King, possibly warbling a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” from that heralded spot in the booth? Would he be given the key to the city? Possibly get a sandwich named after him at one of the area’s best bistros?  Or maybe he could get a coveted cameo in the “Ferris Bueller” remake? That is what happens to those who fall into the arms of the Cubs faithful, they feel the warmth.

What would be more of a challenge than to resurrect a team that has not won a World Series in a Century. Take a team steeped in such deep tradition and in-bred into the town’s psyche and provide a vibe, a final piece of the puzzle to finally eliminate that faithful Cub phrase, “Maybe next year”.

But do not fret Rays Republic, Friedman is only being mesmerized by the snake charmer. There is no apparent movement of feet or mind to the Chi-town skyline, but it will happen. The city will open itself to Friedman, throw on it’s Sunday best to try and persuade the Rays boy genius to take up stakes and move to this vista.

But even as the traditions and advantages of a Chicago move are flowing in his mind as soul, Friedman also knows he has a little unfinished business back here in Tampa Bay. You know he wants to be a part of the legacy of this franchise. His footprints already dot the landscape, but there is one prize still missing.

It is not a stadium deal, or even a full stadium for 25 % of the home games, it is hoisting that last trophy into the air with a franchise he helped get off life support and finally get to the threshold of that dream. Friedman has done so much here that possibly he could realistically say he has done is job and ready to move on to another project.

Many here in Tampa Bay know that one day this scenario will play out, that Friedman will leave, retire or find a new rebuilding project that he finds intriguing. But if it did materialize that Friedman is to pick up stakes and take his show on the road to Chicago, you know he will leave with a bang, possibly in one of those trademark Friedman trades to the Cubs. Hey Friedman has done more in the past with far less…It could happen.

Goodbye Sweet Lou

 
 
I like Lou Piniella, I truly do. I got to know the former Tampa Bay Rays Manager when he first came aboard with the Rays when I came into the Rays Spring Training Clubhouse at Progress Energy Park and could hear his laughter from two rooms away. He had all the gruff and lines of a Manager that you should fear with every inch of your being, but also had that calming effect you wish your friends possessed.

And he truly loved this game. And at times it seemed that he not only loved it like a secret mistress, but he relish the excitement, agony and also the drama that makes this game special in every moment of every game. I never got a chance to sit there and chew the fat with the Manager that some Rays players avoided at any cost, but I did share a joke or two with him on occasion when performing my old Pepsi duties for the Rays clubhouse Manager, Chris Westmoreland.

Lou wanted a nice cooler unit for my office, and I had come into the Rays clubhouse to show “Westy” some of the selections of coolers when Piniella came roaring around the corner with a new special idea he wanted to illustrate to his players as to commitment to the game. This was the moment Piniella had come up with the hair dye moment to commemorate a winning streak, and the glow in his eye showed the fire was still deep and glowing within him.

 

But most people remember the Manager who would rant and rave at his players, even from his perch in the dugout for a jaunt instead of a gallop towards a base. Giving his troops a rant after their telltale moment of a lapse of any baseball intelligence, or simply not giving the game the respect it deserves…always. For deep down below that angry guy persona was a former player turned Manager who’s respect and adulation for the game far outweighed his sense at times.


Piniella never seemed totally at ease being the skipper of the Rays warship. He always seemed to want one more power weapon, one more viable option, but the team was strapped to it’s fiscal responsibilities and could not always give Piniella the weapons he so deserved or demanded to fight within the American League East. But Piniella tried to be the model Manager and leader and absorb some of the punches from the mistakes and faltering pitching or offense that always seemed to doom his Rays teams.

But in the end, it was not Piniella being tired of teaching the young how to play the game right, or even the weigh of all the Rays losses that killed his passion, it seemed to be he did all he could with the Rays resources he was given and had finally seen that it was not going to change anytime soon. I did not see him the day he finally decided to put his Rays cap on the last time, but I know even with the end in sight, Piniella fought the game as if it was his first contest as a rookie in Kansas City.

Piniella was always a fighter, a scrapper and was ultimately the right man at that moment in this Rays development as a franchise. People always say that the winning attitude was defined with the beginning of the Joe Maddon Era. Well, the fires were lit, and the embers never dies under Piniella’s watch. And that passion sprung to life again after a short hiatus as a broadcaster and he took his last grasp at the job that has consumed and entertained him for much of his adult life.

 

Piniella might have finally take his last stroll onto the Wrigley Field turf today, and hopefully he took in the blue sky and the green grass and memories flooded his mind of being able to play coach and manage this great kid’s game for such a long time in his adult life. I always thought Piniella might become this generation’s Don Zimmer, the guy who will always have his fingers somewhere in the baseball cookie jar and take an occasional big bite until he takes his last breath.


But this is not a truly sad day because we all know that Piniella has lived, breathed and been so consumed within the fabric of this game for so long it will always be a part of him. And he will be somehow just beyond the shadows talking, instructing or possibly building a dream team of his own after he finishes wearing the Manager’s uniform. Tampa Bay has been blessed to have a Manager like Piniella when he was here to push the team and the franchise into another spot in it’s development.

I know family matters brought this action to fruition before the end of the Cub’s season, but I hope I have the same sentiments as the rest of the Rays Republic and hope that Piniella finds that next rhythm, that essence of solitude and finally a time for loving life after the diamond. Mostly I am glad he was a part of our Rays history and brought this franchise through its teenage years with patience, counseling and a bit of tough love to give it the firm foundation of respect for the game that the Rays possess today.

 

They say special people help make and shape our lives. Hopefully the integrity, virility and a passion formed by Piniella here in Tampa Bay always flows through this franchise. I know I will miss your gruff triads and comments, all boosted up by the love you have for this great game.

Let’s add a Player to the Burrell/Bradley sweepstakes

 


Jim Prisching / AP

Blogger’s and commenter’s both around Tampa Bay and Chicago baseball communities have been writing and speculating about the teams trading their two “bad contracts” some time during this off season. Each squad currently has a current roster member set to make at least $ 9 million for the 2010 season, and both squads want to unload that contract for a variety of reasons.

And with the Winter Meeting set to start in Indianapolis soon, this potential deal seeming to be at a stalemate. Maybe it is time to add another piece into the whole trade scenario. Maybe it is time for one of these teams to buckle down and offer a second piece to the puzzle that makes it appetizing to either squad to complete this deal before the end of 2009.

Last night during a massive lightning show from thunderstorms racing through Florida, the answer struck me like lightning in my wet hammock. What if the Rays added a player from their overflowing catcher position to the mix as an tasty add-on to the trade? This would bring  the addition of experience and potential veteran presence to the Cubs currently young catching corps.

With the Rays recently getting veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach as another catching option for the team, the Rays currently have an overflow of catching talent. And this potential problem could be addressed quickly with the addition of one of the Rays rostered catchers being added to the Burrell/Bradley trade. It could be a spicy addition to the deal to entice the Cubs take the deal, as well as remove a catching decision by the Rays.

Flashing into my mind last night was the addition of Rays catcher Dioner Navarro to become a valuable veteran for the Cubs roster. Having Navarro’s presence as a back-up behind the plate should take pressure off Cubs starter Geovany Soto in 2010, and help him rebound after a bad 2009 season. Adding to this possible trade equation the fact that the Cubs current back-up catcher is also arbitration eligible, maybe the Rays and Cubs can include the arbitration eligible Navarro as a  clear upgrade to the position.

The Cubs currently have Koyie Hill as their back-up catcher, and he did appear in 83 Cubs games in 2009. That is over half of the Cubs  162 games where the back-up catcher was needed by the team to provide offense and stability.  With Hill entering his third season with the Cubs in 2010 and a total combined 179 games during his Major League career, he pales in comparison to veteran Navarro.

Navarro has appeared in 490 games during his Major League career and has a career .253 average with 33 HR and 173 RBI over that span.  And in the wind-aided confines of Wrigley Field, those numbers are sure to increase dramatically. Hill in comparison has a MLB career .213 average with 5 HR and 49 RBI.

The potential additional piece of Navarro to the trade brings an instant upgrade in power at the catching position, which is currently missing in the Cubs line-up. And considering that Soto did miss 26 games from July to August in 2009 with a left oblique strain,then came back to hit on .128 in August 2009,. His 0198 average in his 32 games since his return from the Disabled List might be of concern for the Cubs heading into 2010. This might be a clear indicator that a veteran offensive back-up catcher is a clear need for the team.

And with the Cubs adding up to a estimated $6 million to the Rays as salary relief in the deal, maybe the Rays can trim that amount to say, $5 million if the Cubs let Navarro’s name be added to the deal. It can be a great potential arbitration dowry or money chip for the Cubs to consider Navarro in the deal. With Hill making only $ 475,000 in 2009, it is estimated that he could get close to $1 million in arbitration.


Steve Nesius / AP

Navarro, who made $ 2.1 million in 2009, is estimated to maybe increasing to $2.5 million for 2010. With a saving of a $1 million salary chip in the Cubs hands after the Bradley trade, the team could add a valuable piece to their 2010 arsenal in catching power and experience.
And with Soto having a sub-par 2009 after a stellar 2008 National League All Star and Rookie of the Year season, Navarro would provide an instant answer for Cubs Manager Lou Piniella if Soto dramatically regresses or begins the year in another slump. 

The playoff experience and leadership of Navarro can provide instant credibility to the Cubs catching corps. With the Rays having three potential Major League catchers stuck at the minor league level in Shawn Riggans, John Jaso, and Joe Lobaton, the trading of Navarro would provide a chance for one of them to excel and possibly gain a spot on the Rays 25-man roster in 2010.

There will be a trade of Burrell and Bradley sometime this off season. The trade result might not include both the Rays and Cubs unless something is done to make the deal sweeter for the Cubs. This new trade idea gives relief to both franchises of their potential “bad contracts” while also adding another nice trade piece to the Cubs that will strengthen their roster.  For both Burrell and Navarro this trade would/could be a fresh start for both of them.

With the Rays potentially getting Bradley, they will have to make some concessions somewhere down the line to get this deal completed. By adding Navarro, they could bring this trade to a fast conclusion if the Cubs look at the potential of both  Soto and Navarro hitting above their 2009 averages and giving no offensive or defensive slack if either is inserted into the lineup.

Bradley currently has a provision in his Cubs contract where he gets a suite for every road series. And Burrell would get a possible $200,000 if he is traded during the duration of his contract. But those are minor pieces with the big picture of this deal getting completed by either team. In the long run,the Rays could get another shot to see if Bradley, the player the Rays pursued hard during the 2009 free agent season is the missing piece to their playoff formula.


Brian Blanco / AP

If I stand back and look at the possible idea of including Navarro as a trade piece to this puzzle. It really looks like a great solution to this deal happening before the end of the 2009. I know I am not privy to the inter working of the Rays front office, but in my mindset, this addition to the Burrell/Bradley scenario would make the Cubs a potential big winner in the overall scheme of this deal while also helping the Rays subtract a possible problem within their own roster.

And how rare is it for two teams to both come out as winner in a potential trade. In this scenario, both could come away smiling from ear-to-ear.
 

“Guess-timations for Jason Grilli for 2010

 


@Grillcheese49/Twitter.com


I am not a true fan of crossword puzzles or games like Chess. But I got to tell you, I am so psyched right now to try and figure out this word puzzle/mystery. You see, Jason Grilli aka Grillcheese49 on Twitter has been leaving small clues and a few hints recently about his pitching destination for 2010.  And I have to admit it here, but trolling the web looking for answers can get my endorphines  kicking it at about 120 mph right now. I forgot how much fun it used to be following a lead, or just a simple photo and finding an aswer within it all.

I have a lot of respect for the insider job that ESPN’s Buster Onley does every day right now during the Hot Stove season. I honestly have not worked this hard to nail down a team or a possible player’s new location since college. And I am not working with a safety net right now, and could basically get it all wrong with a flick of the fingers upon this keyboard. 

I do not possess the savvy insider sources that people like Peter Gammons or Onley have at their disposal daily. I do most of my work down here in the darkest recesses of light, and ever so often a beam shines down and I grab ahold of it tightly. Right now I am going by what Grilli has tweeted to all of us over the last week and using them as definite clues to piece this puzzle with more clarity. But the reality of this dark situation is that this new form of social interweaving like Twitter and Facebook can also work in deflecting people and organizations far away from the truth.

 @Grillcheese49:There were 8 teams interested. One clear choice. Details coming soon. Hope to share by Monday. ( 4:57 PM Nov 27,2009 from UberTwitter)

Well Jason, it is now early Monday, and only a few hours before you “officially” tell the cyber-world of your playing intentions for 2010. I am going to try and piece together some of the previous information given out by you,and try and make an educated guess on where you are going to be playing in 2010. Hope you do not mind, but I might have a lead on your future employer by reading through the lines a bit, and hope

I am at least within the ballpark when you announce it sometime during today. I may end up being totally wrong, and that is okay too because I am a blogger with no real connections who is just using his mind for more than a hatrack right now.

@Grillcheese49: The answer is coming people this week. I promise. Let’s play the Feud. There are 30 teams in MLB. The top 5 answers are on the board.
(9:27 AM Nov 27,2009 from UberTwitter)

I have to admit, I did not take all 30  MLB teams when I was trying to figure out which team you might have scooped you up come Monday. I  did however remove your prior teams like the Colorado Rockies,Texas Rangers,Chicago White Sox,Florida Marlins and Detroit Tigers. It was a bit hard to rule out the Marlins completely at first because you still have a home in Florida. But,I figure that  for the most part, when a player leaves the Marlins, they are not too anxious to get back into the aqua blue uniforms.

@Grillcheese49: Longest drum roll ever…..I know. If it were up to me I would tell ya. Don’t want to be banned from Twitter like the NFL players do. Haha
( 3 hours ago from UberTwitter)


Do not worry Grilli, I am pretty sure there is nothing within the MLBPA union contract about social networks  yet, but they probably will add it into the talks in 2011 when the MLBPA  Union contract is up for renewal. I really wish I did have someone within a the MLB front offices that I could bounce this  guess-timate off of at 1 AM on a Monday morning…..But I do not.

So I am out here in “Blog-ville” after 1 AM trying to piece the puzzle together considering you gave me an awesome clue with the Twitpic posted late on Sunday. And the wildest part of it all is going to be my  own personal opinion on if you are seeking to play for a potential playoff team,or just a great opportunity to stay with a team’s Bullpen for a few years. That at first almost lead me to make the mistake of thinking you might be wearing a Tampa Bay Rays jersey in 2010, but something on your Twitpic tonight led me away from that conclusion quickly.

 Someone trying to piece together puzzles like this need to have a keen eye for unobvious observations to sometimes notice things other leave behind as clues or even honest mistakes in their posts or comments. When you posted the picture tonight of your signature already on your 2010 contract, you left the biggest clue of them all. As most people can see now, the MLB authorized Club Representative signature might be the key to this entire puzzle.

                     
                     
Grillcheese49/Twitpic


So if I take that position of “Director of Baseball Administration” as a clue under the Club Reps signature, then I can quickly narrow it down to  a total of six teams that have that position currently listed within their MLB front office. We have 3 clubs each in both the American League and the National League that employ a person in that present job title. But then again,it could just be an ambiguous  job title that is printed on a standardized MLB/MLBPA contract for all I know. But  a gut reaction has me really doubting that.

I could be wrong even about the title of the Club Representative, but I am going to roll the dice here on this one and hope Lady Luck is in my corner tonight/today.  And for that simple reason, I  am putting the following six MLB clubs could be your final destination for the 2010  MLB season:

Oakland Athletics:  The A’s currently have Pam Pitts as the Director of Baseball administration for their club. I think you have more of a inclination right now to be looking for a team that is going to be fighting for a potential playoff spot in 2010. For that reason, I am eliminating the A’s from contention for your services. (75-1 chance)

Kansas City Royals: Jin Wong is posted as the active Director of Baseball Administration for the Royals on their MLB website. This is a team that I feel is more in the rebuilding stage than ready to take center stage right now. They could probably make some no
ise,but might not have the overall staying power in 2010 to get you closer towards a playoff chance. (50-1 chance)


Cleveland Indians:
The Director of Baseball Administration for the Indians is Wendy Hoppel. For some reason I think this is the AL club that might make you salivate the most right now. With the young talent they have accumulated the last two seasons with trades involving CC Sabathia,Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee, the Indians could be a nice dark horse contender in the AL Central as early as 2010. (4-3 chance)


Out of the National League, I am considering these three clubs as your possible destination for the 2010 season:

Chicago Cubs:  The Cubs, even if they are going through a ownership transition,still currently list Scott Nelson as their Director of Baseball Administration. But even with the dust settling in the front office after the final sale approval by MLB owners just recently, this club is a bit more fragile within their 25-man roster. Might not be a great fit, but could be a  dark horse player for your services. (12-1 chance)


Atlanta Braves:
  This is the closest MLB team to your home now in Florida that has a person with the title of Director of Baseball Administration in their club’s front office. John Coppolella currently holds that post. Might be a location favorite, but also has a division you have pitched in before with the Marlins. ( 15-1 chance)

Philadelphia Phillies: This club is the last one to have a club representative with the title of Director of Baseball Administration  in the MLB. With Susan Ingersoll Papaneri at the controls. I am going to go with a wild hunch  that you are seeking a solid position on a team that could grow into an extended contract. With the Phillies, you  may have a spot in their Bullpen renovation. If you do seek a good chance for a possible 2010 playoff scenario, then this just might be a great destination on a possible playoff team. ( 5-1 chance)

This is where the whole shebang of guessing can get a little more difficult for me. I think you can strive for more in both Cleveland and Philly without a major problem. And even if your 2009 salary was only $ 800,000, I can see you going maybe over $1 million with incentives without a real contract problem. Put that all together with the photo above and look at the possible first name lower loop in the signature, and I have to say the name seems to point towards Cleveland (Wendy Hoppel).

But that is the fun with guessing right? I think the perfect 2010 scenario might be with the Phillies to expand your career and get into a possible playoff situation in 2010. But it might also  could be beneficial as a veteran on a young club to be with a team like Cleveland who could shock the AL like the Rays did in 2008 with their developing players leading the way coupled with experienced pitching behind them.

So I am going to guess that the Chief Wahoo will be proud you are with the Cleveland Indians in 2010.  And even if I am wrong about all of this, I think it has been a great chance for me to practice some skills I have not used in a long, long time. It has been  a lot of fun Jason.

I truly wish you the best of luck and hope you stay injury free in 2010. If you play for a team that does head into Tropicana Field, I will look for number 49 and introduce myself to you. And if you do become an Indian on Monday, get your player uniform number negotiation skills ready, because leftie pitcher Tony Sipp currently hold your number 49 on the Indians active roster. But then again, no one on the Phillies 40-man roster currently sports a “49” on their back.

Rays General Manager for a Day

 

 

 

One of the hardest jobs in all of  baseball is not the Managers’ position, but the title of  General Manager. I think that more GM’s have taken a bullet for the failures of their teams than any of baseball field mangers. It is said that the stream of blood runs downhill after a slaughter and usually that blood starts at the scalp of the GM, who is the first sacrificial lamb for the public and the media. 

 

The position has a bit of give and take from the bottom to the top, but for all intentions, can be the lonliest post when things are going bad for your team . You have to dictate and slice through all of the BS coming out of the clubhouse and the publics mouths, plus select the  most rightious information and  sage advice from scouting to make a calculated and educated gamble on a player or a team situation.

 

For Rays General Manager aka Boy Wonder of 1 Tropicana Drive, Andrew Friedman, so far in his tenure in the position, the scale has been weighed heavily in his favor. Considering that less than 3 years ago he was not even involved with the Tampa Bay Rays, and his name was no more known in public circles than my name. But in three years  with help from  wily old veteran G.M. Gary “Obi Wan” Hunsicker he has built upon a solid core of players and  eager staff members to reign  alone on top of the G.M. mountaintop. 

 

Decision after decision went wrong for him in the beginning. He stayed silent and towed the line on trade talks that could have meant the world to the team, and moved on ones that might have dealt them a death blow in the past.pile  But with a few years of plus and minues calculations, the Rays G.M. has eliminated the risk management portion of his position and is seeing only sunny skies and rainbows right now.

 

 Well, on today’s front page, MLBlogs asked a simple question that will either rock the nether worlds or simply go down as more Internet babble and ramblings by people who love to play God behind a keyboard. I am one of those ramblers, but I can atest to countless hours of thinking about this ( 2 hours) and entered debate after debate during the morning to strengthen my fortitude and latitude to accept this challenge. I am to become the G.M. of the American League champions for a short time and plot the course for the Rays cruiseliner. Hopefully I will not need a toll for the river Styx after I am done with my opinions and raw mental brainfarts. But in the office of the G.M., even ordering coffee can be met with critcism and  second-guessing.

 

 

                    

 

 

I am not sure if I want to play a higher power, but I would like a crack at a few             situations I would consider if I was the Rays GM for the next few days in Las Vegas. With that in mind, I am going to put myself in WWAD ( What Would Andrew Do ) mode and trya and make a few educated guesses as to the betterment of the Rays  roster and their minor league system. I even have a play that should be added to their 40-man roster before Friday, or lose him to another team is a sure bet.

 

 

 

So, here we go, I am acting GM of the Tampa Bay Rays for about an hour. My  first round of business will be to get minor leaguer Rhyne Hughes on the 40-man             roster. Hughes had a monster Arizona Fall League and might be going the route that current Rays pitcher James Shields took a few years back. Hughes made                       the All- AFL selection squad and hit the cover off the ball in Arizona.

 

He has been at the Double-A level in 2008, but might start there then move up to Triple-A depending on the Bulls need for a power first baseman. But getting  this kid hidden on the 40-man roster is a vital cog that has to be done ASAP. The Rays took care of a roster spot on Monday evening by assigning pitcher Chad Orvella, who is coming off of shoulder surgery outright to the Durham Bulls.

 

 

The Rays might not have as many holes as usual this coming year, which actually plays well into their hands during negotiations with players. There are several key             guys up for arbitration like Dioner Navarro, Jason Bartlett, Edwin Jackson and Jonny Gomes. In the next several weeks a few of those guys might not be here by trade or being released by the team. I would put more money on the trade situation than losing all value for the players. Even a guy like Gomes, who had a miserible 2008, has value to a team looking for a 4th outfielder or even a DH for hire.

 

I am going to cut to the chase in this blog and attack the two main needs for the team in 2009.  The right-field slot and the DH position are highly publicized and ‘must need’ positions on the team. I have a few ideas about each and will explore them in two ways. First to list the free agent solutions, and then by trade.

 

 

               

 

 

First off, let’s tackle the need for a DH or bench player for the Rays via the free agent market. With the recent lunch date with Milton Bradley going so well for  the Rays, the only thing standing in the way besides a contract is if the guy is worth losing your first round pick for him.  With Bradley being considered a top tier free agent, the team would have to forfeit a draft pick to secure his signing.

 

 

                            

 

 

Another plus about Bradley that the Rays can build on is his ability to protect hitters in front of him bcause of his .324 average last season. To add onto that is the fact he also hit 22 home runs and struck out only 112 times last season. He is also an on-base guy, posting .439 On-Base Percentage, largely because of  his 80 walks. His sttitude and personality quirks have also mellowed with age and he has become a calm force in the locker room. He might not be Cliff Floyd, but  the guy commands respect and leads by example.

 

 

                  

 

 

The second alternative to a DH via the free agent wire is also a very  attractive one for the Rays.  Mostly  because this player can still contribute in the field at some lengths and could be a valuable asset to the club. Also considering some of the milestones he is approaching, he could be a great PR tool for the team to attract fans. If you have no figured it out yet, it is Ken Griffey Junior. I have been  a huge Griffey fans since his Mariner days and would consider him in a second  for the DH position.

 

Junior might have slipped a bit in production in the last few seasons, but he also has been playing the field almost every day while in the National League, and took over center for the Chicago White Sox after being traded at the trading deadline in 2008. If he was to be a DH, with an occasional stroll into the outfield, he could protect his knees and still hit daily for the team.  Griffey hit only a combined .248 between both leagues in 2008, but his low amount of strikeouts ( 25 ) shows that the plate discipline is still there and he can rebound off a bad 2008.

 

The Rays might be able to get Griffey at a Florida discount becuase of his home being in Orlando, but still might command about $ 4-6 million a year. Griffeys’ 2008 salary was set at about $ 8.2 million, which would put him out of Tampa Bay puse strings if he commands the same salary in 2009. 

 

Bradley made about $ 5.25 million last season. If Bradley wants to play on a competitive team for 2009, he also might be into giving the Rays a discount on base salary with some incentive bonuses tied to production. I would think a $ 4 million dollar salary with up to 2 million in incentives might do the trick for Bradley.

 

 

           

 

Let’s now consider the right-field  slot. I honestly feel that the team can  find a suitable player who is right-handed without breaking the bank in 2009. Alot of names have been tossed around lately, but there is aslo one that has not come to the surface yet in refference to the Rays. Brad Wilkerson has been playing right-field in the majors for a long time. He started 2008 with the Seattle Mariners, then moved onto the Toronto Blue Jays and provided great relief and power from the right-side of the plate.

 

Most of baseball has not even considered him after a sub-par 2008 while both rehabbing and trying to fit into a tight outfield situation in Toronto. But he might be a low cost alternative to the high priced guys seeking positions through the MLB. His sub .250 average for 2008 was mostly covered by his injury that he tried to play through before going down and finally getting healthy.

 

 

                              

 

 

This is the one position on the Rays that I think they can make a great trade that can help both ballclubs. In the past, the Rays have been linked as the third team with the Chicago Cubs for Jake Peavy. But the real factor is that they do not need the Cubs to make a trade with San Diego. The Padres are seeking a shortstopn and a pitcher to replace two players currently either treaded or deep into discussion to part the Padres.

 

Tampa Bay was eager to pout in a claim for Brian Giles on the waiver wire in 2008, but got one-upped by the Boston Red Sox. The Sox blocked the attempt to claim Giles to keep him off the Rays roster and maybe get him for themselves. Giles did not want to go to the Red Sox, but might be open to a Rays attempt at a trade because they have a true opening for him in right-field.

 

 

 

 

One problem with this trade off the bat is the amount of salary owed to Giles in 2009. The Rays might not be willing to take on the entire amount of the 2009 salary and would want to offset some of it by having the Padres eat a bit of the contract. The players’ that the Padres could get for Giles could be a nice smorgasboard of up-and-coming pitchers and a infielder.

 

The Rays have a abundance of pitchers who are log-jammed at the minor league level and might be willing to part with a MLB level pitcher and a Triple-A starter. The pitchers in question could range from Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel to Jeff Niemann and Mitch Talbot. All have been at the major league level and have proven to be quality pitchers.

 

 

The Rays also have a few infielders who could be packaged in the deal, which includes Reid Brignac, Elliott Johnson, who have limited major league experience to Ben Zobrist or even Jason Bartlett who have MLB experience. Zobrist is actually a player who could play any role for the Padres and is still under contract for 2009. Bartlett is arbitration-eligible, but might only cost about $ 2 million a year fater the hearing.

 

Giles is my trade target for the team in 2009. I think if the team packaged Jeff Neimann, Jason Bartlett and maybe another reliever, Dale Thayer or a Double-A player, plus take on  $ 2 million dollars of Giles salary, we could have a great deal for both teams. But that is just my opinion here.

 

 

So here we go, I have taken on two trouble spots for the Rays in 2009 and tackled them my way. How do I think I did as GM for the Day for the Rays?  That depends on if I can get these guys signed sealed and delivered for Rays Manager Joe Maddon and the boys by Febuary 2009.

 

 

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