Results tagged ‘ Eric Bruntlett ’

Hooray for the Rays…We got Pat the Bat !!

 


The last time Tampa Bay Rays fans saw Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Pat Burrell was right after his double off J P Howell to put himself in scoring position to score the Phillie’s winning run in Game 5.5 of the 2008 World Series. But Burrell did not get to have that honor as Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel sent out pinch runner Eric Bruntlett, who slide into home after a few spotty hits to produce the winning run, and the World Series title for the Phillie’s. This plays upon a well known fact that Burrell loves the pressure of a situation, and is usually the first person to act upon it for the betterment of the team.

 


So you can imagine the turn of events that have brought this consistent and powerful bat to the lineup for the Rays. Burrell was thinking that the Phillies might offer him arbitration in 2009, or at least make an attempt to try and sign him to a small deal. He had played his entire career in the Phillies system and was loved and adored by many of the Philly faithful. But in his spot in the lineup pretty much helping protect Ryan Howard the last few seasons, he has seen his number pretty much decrease, but not below acceptable levels.

 

 

 

Now, with a new ring on his finger, and a future bright in the Florida sunshine, Burrell is happy to be a Ray. Considering he still owns a home in Clearwater was not a factor in the negotiations, but it did not hurt matters at all. Speculation has been brewing for months that he was the target out of the corner of the Rays managements’ eye. Because remember, he was also the guy in the 2008 World Series who was fighting a monster slump,  and like Evan Longoria and  Carlos Pena, came alive in that last contest. He has earned the reputation in Philly as a guy who can get you that timely hit or run to set you up to win a game all by himself.

 

 


Burrell was a combined 0-13 before hitting that monster off the wall in center field to set himself up at second base. I can guess without a doubt that he wanted to pull a ” Roger Dorn” and refuse to come off the base because of the significance of that hit. Burrell had to know that the next run would win it for the Phillies, and he wanted to be the guy to cross that plate. But instead, he got the front float for the World Series parade. So there he was perched on the Budweiser/ Clydesdale wagon with his dog, Elvis waving to the millions of adoring fans…………for the last time.

 

 


Now this signing by the Rays pushed the estimated payroll for 2009 to about  $ 60 million dollars. This is the highest payroll of the Rays in their short existence, but will it be enough to get them back to the playoffs and beyond in 2009.  Considering Statistic guru Bill James had predicted that the 3-pronged attack combination of  Longoria, Pena and himself is projected to hit a staggering 100 homers between them in 2009.  And also considering that James also has put current New York Yankee Mark Teixeira’s home run total at 36 for the season, Burrell’s  2009 numbers of 32 home runs look like a huge investment in power for the Rays.

 


Considering that Teixeira’s 180 million dollar contract comes out to about $ 22.5 million per season, the 2 years at $ 16 million dollars that Burrell signed for look like a major bargain for the Rays. Tex’s will have to make those 4 additional homers in 2009 a spectacular event to even equal Burrells possible damage in the Rays lineup. This signing also effectively gives the Rays a huge right-handed bat that actually hits lefties well.  But considering that Burrell has been called slow and prone to slumps during the season, is this a wise move for the Rays?

 

 


Burrell was once pictured in a poster by the Phillies players with the caption, ” Man or Machine”.  That brings to mind the physical presence and powerful ability of Burrell to work to extremes to perfect his craft. With the Rays, Burrell will not have to have his glove handy to go out and play right field for the Rays, except maybe in the Inter league games in a National League park. But the one trademark of Burrell during his entire Phillie’s career has been consistency.

 


The guy is pretty predictable at the plate, with a few surprises, but mostly you can pencil him in for a .250 average for the year with about 100 RBI’s. With that, you can also estimate about 31 homers and a huge bunch of strikeouts.  The Rays might be putting Burrell in the number 5 slot right behind Pena, who is also prone to the strikeout during the past few seasons. But on the plus side, Burrell has been up in the top of the pile in walks the past few seasons in the National League. In 2008, he was 3rd in the NL with 102 walks.

 

 


But another plus for Burrell, which has become a staple of the Rays type of players is his involvement in the community. Burrell will again be one of the Rays players’ who will be giving to the Rays Foundation with a slice of his contract, but that is a minor set back to him. He is a well recognized team chef in the Phillies clubhouse and has been known to volunteer his efforts to charity to cook or even entertain at cooking events while in Philly.  This will be very useful as the Rays faithful are just beginning to truly understand the art of baseball tailgating. Hey Rays Foundation, maybe a Pat Burrell cookout after a Spring Training game might be a great Fan Fest auction item………just trying to help here.

 

 

 


Most people view this signing as a guy who fell into the Rays hands via their first and second most desired selections coming off the board with other teams. I actually had him up in the top 2 for the Rays to even consider for 2009. I had Jason Giambi at the top slot, while Burrell was slotted number 2 based on his consistent number’s. Either player would be a huge plus for the ever evolving Rays franchise. But Burrell is a guy you can pencil in every night knowing that he will bring his “A” game every night.

 


The Phillie’s fan will get their first look at Burrell in the Rays jersey during their Spring Training game at Brighthouse Networks Field in Clearwater on March 12. It is also a “Thristy Thursday” game and will have an extra factor of being one of  only 3 games played by the Rays in Pinellas county before the season begins in April. The other two will be played against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin on March 1st and 10th. And with the Rays not retaining Rocco Baldelli, the number 5 jersey is currently available for Burrell if he wants to keep the same uniform number he has had for years with the Phillies.

 

 


But do not fret Phillies fans if you can not make the afternoon game on March 12th, because you can again cheer or jeer at Burrell in your home ballpark in Philly as the Rays usher in the last two Spring Training games up in Philadelphia on April 1 and 2 in Citizen’s Bank Ballpark.  So, the signing of Pat Burrell will be felt in the Rays clubhouse for the next two seasons. This is a great signing of a guy who can bring some consistent hitting to the Designated Hitter spot in the Rays’ lineup. But, best of all, we got a guy who has shown he already has the Rays mentality of getting hits and runs when the team needs them in a game…….and you can not put a price on that kind of consistent action.

  

MLB Network Shows 2008 World Series Game 2 Classic

 

 


Okay, I promise to really abandon and resign to the fact that 2009 is right around the corner here, and 2008 is just a past memory. But here we go on a crisp, cool night in January sitting there watching the second game of the World Series on the newly launched  MLB Network. I almost for got how huge the crowd was in the stands, and could still smell my loaded nachos and the sugary goodness of my cinnamon almonds.

 


It seemed like so long ago now that this game even was played. But then again, if you are a Rays fan, you have waited for this moment for 11 years. The aspect that this team could get to the playoffs was a distant memory until maybe July after the second half of the season started with a Rays victory via a Ben Zobrist home run. Not until the last out in a game on September 24th, did the team realize a long time dream by both those in the stands and in the dugout.

 


There were a handful of Rays employees who have been here the entire time. People from Bill Wiener and Mike Yodis, who have been driving forces in the procurement department of the team.  Executive Assistant Diane Villanova, who was once Vince Namoli’s executive secretary and has seen the entire evolution of this franchise. Then you have someone like Barry Jones or Kristy Capone, who sat in the sales department cubicles and might have wondered at time how long it would take to finally get here.

 

 


The re-broadcast of that game brought about a lot of emotion. A lot of sweat equity that so many have given for the Rays cause. But it did not match the joy and the total abandonment of logic as we celebrated the teams first win in a World Series contest. To say it was a typical Rays win would be pretty accurate. It showed the heart and the character of this team to the nation. Before that first win, people knew we had won over 97 games during the season, but had not seen the formula used to win a majority of those games.

 


Tonight the nation got to see how “Raysball” was played, and also saw the emotional and physical toll it had on fans and players. Baseball is truly a fickle game. A short blast that fall in between two out fielders can make or break a game. A single throw into the plate can make or break a game. And a single pitch, left over the plate can be rocketed to the outfield walls and beyond.

 


Watching this game can also make you yearn for more……….More Wins, more times like these again in 2009. To even imagine another run into the World Series right now would be  a little premature and crazy. But the pieces are in place to make a run  at it all. Several pieces will be replaced in 2009 from the 2008 crew, but these will be upgrades and not just fill in the blanks players as in the years past. The new winning tradition is now set in stone, and the clay and mortar are still wet on the basis of the 2009 roster.

 

 


In the next few weeks there will be optimism and renewed vigor about the 2009 season, but this small look into the past was just what I needed last night. I needed to remember the feelings and the emotions that gripped me on that night.  I as a fan, needed to remember where I was, what I was doing, and who I first slapped high fives to after the win.

 


It is a emotional and physical high I would hope on all the fans of baseball at least once in your life.  To say that night changed my life would be an understatement. I have attended 3 World Series games before this season, and got into the mood with the crowd, but did not have a center to grab a hold of and attack the event with gusto. This series had all my past feelings and tears in ti’s framework from the first pitch.

 


So it was pretty emotional to sit there and see again the high  sacrifice bunt by Jason Bartlett that scored Cliff Floyd from third base and Rays starter James ” Big Game” Shields reminded people that he strives under pressure shutting out the Phillies for 5 2/3rds innings, scattering 7 hits on the night. That was a lot of excitement for a Thursday night in St. Petersburg.

 

 


But from the beginning of this contest, you could tell it was all Rays tonight. Akinora Iwamura got on with a lead off walk, and moved to third on B J Upton’s drive to right field that was misplayed by Jason Werth to put both guys into scoring position with no outs in the game.  Then two straight ground outs by Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria put the Rays up first 2-0.

 


The Rays again got to business fast in the second inning as Upton drove in Dioner Navarro and Baldelli was thrown out in the most photographed picture of the World Series at that point. His slide into Phillies’ catcher Carlos Ruiz would be plastered all over the Internet and the newspapers and finally made it to the cover of Sports Illustrated . It was one of those World Series moments etched in stone that will be remembered for decades. It might have been an out, but it showed the determination and the spirit of this franchise.

 

 


Then came the moment of truth with Floyd and third when Bartlett put down that safety squeeze and the Rays went up 4-0. Baldelli also helped out in the field on that night going a long way for a Chase Utley drive that looked more destined for the hole than into Baldelli’s glove. The action produced a double play as Baldelli was able to fire the ball to first base and he doubled up Jayson Werth on one of the best defensive plays of the entire World Series.

 


But what was remarkable about the night was the cool and calm demeanor of Rays rookie David Price when he came in to pitch in this contest. He came out there with 2 outs in the 7th inning and he walked Utley before going after Ryan Howard and striking him out to end the inning. In the 8th,  Price got started quickly getting two quick outs before leaving up a slider and watching Eric Bruntlett stroll around the bases for a solo shot and take away the shutout from the Rays.


 

 


But even after all of that, Price looked determined and strong on the mound and got Pedro Feliz to ground out to only surrender 1 run to the Phillies. In the 9th inning,  Carlos Ruiz got a quick double and scored on an error to put the Phillies within 2 runs of the lead.  That brought up Utley and Howard for a second time in his brief relief appearance for Price. He got Utley to strikeout, and induced a ground out from Howard.

 


It was a night of lost chances for both teams, but after the last out in the game, you could see the excitement and the emotion in Price’s face as he was leaving the mound. This put the series back at 1  win each and put the pressure on the Phillies gong back home for the next 3 games. We all know how it turned out by now, but at that moment you had to believe if you were a Rays fan.


 

 


The energy and the excitement in the stadium could not be bottled up and released again in Citizen Bank Ballpark, but you wish it could. It was a night when you saw the Rays mature right in front of you. No longer did you see a team that could blow a 5 run lead, or even strike out three times in the bottom of the 9th to preserve another team’s win. You saw a squad that was on a mission and a fan base that believed in them more than any other time in their short existence. It was a great time to be a Ray.

 

 

Tendering Some Love to the Players…….Tendered Players 2008

 

 

The Greatest thing a player can learn on a day like today is how much his club loves what he does on the field for them. But sometimes even that get a bit blurred and the images seems to fade a bit before the reality comes that you either have a new start somewhere else, or you contact your old team and see if they just wanted you at a cheaper price.

 

Every December 12th, the MLB goes through this  sadistic tactic of non-tendering and tendering contracts to the arbitration eligible players on their rosters. Some people are shoe-ins to get picked up because of talent or maybe even a low cost towards the next year budget. Others are looked at under a microscope and the decisions might come down to dollar signs and not talent or ability.

 

 

                  

 

 

That is the sad reality of this date. You could be an up and coming talent, or a veteran that just had an off year and you could be looking for a job in a heartbeat after midnight tonight.  Also, just because they decided to offer you a contract doesn’t mean that the wheels stop turning and you might still be dealt to another team and they will make the decision on your fate again, and maybe at a financial disadvantages.

 

So on and on tonight I will be adding to this blog until I have a final idea of who, what where, when and why might pop up and bite some unsuspecting player on the buttock. Seriously here, there will be some surprises tonight. Some players might be getting held ransom for a financial sacrifice, while other might be rewarded for unforeseen changes in their game or ability. Which ever come about, it is not the end of the world or a career with any of the players tonight.

 

 

                                     

 

Everyone will find a place to play in 2009, it might not be the town you are currently playing in, but it also might turn into the best decision of your life. Just because you came up with a certain club does not mean that there are not other staffs or coaches’ salivating that your name is on the list tonight. People always have choices in life. The path we take is not predestined as many believe, but they are earmarked with signs and signals we either adhere to or avoid.

 

The players on this list still have had the honor to play at a level that few people ever achieve in life, on or off the ball field. And with that in mind, you have to remember the sacrifices and the sweat and tears that got you to this level will be rewarded again.

 

So as we embark on this night when some believe a dream has ended, you have to remember that through every closed door there is another opportunity maybe even down the hall. Here is the list of the guys who got the love and admiration of their clubs tonight. This list will be in no certain order, but will be update throughout the night.

 

 

Tampa Bay Rays:

Gabe Gross                                        ( OF )

Dioner Navarro                                  ( C )

Jason Barlett                                     ( SS )

Willy Aybar                                       ( INF )

Grant Balfour                                    ( RP )

 

 

Kansas City Royals:

Esteban German                              ( INF )             1-year contract

John Buck                                       ( C )

Mike Jacobs                                    ( INF )

Mark Teahen                                   ( OF )

Brian Bannister                                ( SP )

Kyle Davies                                      ( RP )

Jimmy Gobble                                 ( SP )

Zack Greinke                                   ( SP )

Joel Peralta                                      ( RP )

       

 

 

Florida Marlins:

Jorge Cantu                                      ( 3 B )

Dan Uggla                                        ( 2 B )

Cody Ross                                        ( OF )

Jeremy Hermida                               ( OF )

Rick Nolasco                                    ( SP )

Josh Johnson                                   ( RP )

Alfredo Amezaga                             ( RP )

Logan Kensing                                 ( RP )

Dallas McPherson                             ( INF )

 

 

Philadelphia Phillies:

Shane Victorino                               ( OF )

Ryan Howard                                    ( 1 B )

Ryan Madson                                   ( RP )

Jayson Werth                                   ( OF )

Eric Bruntlett                                   ( INF )                   1-year contract

Clay Condrey                                   (  RP )                  1-year contract

Joe Blanton                                      ( SP )

Cole Hamels                                      ( SP )

Greg Dobbs                                      ( INF )

Chad Durbin                                    ( RP ) 

 

 

Seattle Mariners:

Eric Bedard                                     ( SP )

Aaron Heilman                                (SP, RP ) 

Felix Hernandez                              ( SP )

 

 

San Diego Padres:

Scott Hairston                                  ( OF )

Luis Rodriguez                                ( INF )

Jody Gerut                                       ( OF )

Heath Bell                                        ( RP )

 

 

Atlanta Braves:

Kelly Johnson                                   ( INF )

Matt Diaz                                          ( OF )

Jeff Francoeur                                  ( OF )

Mike Gonzalez                                 ( RP )

Omar Infante                                    ( INF )

Casey Kotchman                              ( 1 B )

 

 

Boston Red Sox:

Kevin Youkilis                                ( 1B )

Jonathan Papelbon                        ( RP )

Javier Lopez                                  ( RP )

 

 

Minnesota Twins:

Jason Kubel                                   ( D H )

Matt Guerrier                                 ( RP )

 

 

Los Angeles Dodgers:

Russell Martin                                ( C )

Andre Ethier                                  ( OF )

Johnathan Broxton                        ( RP )

 

 

Oakland Athletics:

 Rob Bowen                                   ( C )          $ 535,000    1-year contract

Justin Duchscherer                        ( SP )

Jack Cust                                      ( OF )

 

 

Chicago White Sox:

Dewayne Wise                              ( OF )              1-year,  $ 550,000 contract

Wilson Betemit                            ( INF )              1-year    $ 1.3 Million contract

 

 

Detroit Tigers: 

Ramon Santiago                           ( INF )           1-year  $ 825,000 contract

Marcus Thames                             ( OF )

Fernando Rodney                          ( RP )

Bobby Seay                                   ( RP )

Joel Zumaya                                 ( RP ) 

Justin Verlander                            ( SP )

Edwin Jackson                              ( SP,RP )

 

 

Cleveland Indians:

Kelly Shoppach                              ( C )

 

 

Chicago Cubs:

Chad Gaudin                                  ( RP )               1-year  $ 2 million contract

Ronny Cedeno                               ( INF )

Reed Johnson                                ( OF )

Neal Cotts                                      ( RP )                1-year  $ 1.1 million contract 

Mike Wuertz                                  ( RP ) 

Kevin Gregg                                  ( RP )

 

 

San Francisco Giants:

Jack Taschner                                ( RP )

 

 

Toronto Blue Jays:  

Jason Frasor                                  ( RP )

Brian Tallet                                    ( RP )

Brandon League                            ( RP )

Jose Batista                                   ( INF )

 

 

Pittsburgh Pirates:

Nate McLouth                                ( OF )

Adam LaRoche                             ( 1 B )

Ryan Doumit                                 ( C )

Zack Duke                                    ( SP )

John Grabow                                ( RP )

Tyler Yates                                    ( RP )

Paul Maholm                                ( SP )

 

 

St Louis Cardinals:

Rick Ankiel                                  ( OF )

Chris Duncan                               ( OF )

Todd Wellemeyer                        ( RP )

 

 

Colorado Rockies:

Garrett Atkins                               ( 3 B )

Clint Barmes                                 ( 2 B )

Jorge De La Rosa                          ( SP )

Taylor Buchholz                           ( RP )

Jason Grilli                                   ( RP )

Huston Street                                ( RP )

 

 

Cincinnati Reds:

Edwin Encarnacion                       ( INF )

 

 

Milwaukee Brewers:

Seth McClung                                  ( SP, RP )

Prince Fielder                                  ( 1 B )

Rickie Weeks                                  ( 2 B )

J J Hardy                                        ( S S )

Corey Hart                                       ( OF )

Dave Bush                                       ( SP )

 

 

Washington Nationals:

Ryan Zimmerman                         ( 3B )

Josh Willingham                          ( OF )

Scott Olsen                                   ( SP )

Shawn Hill                                    ( RP )

Willy Harris                                  ( SS )                           2-year  $ 3 million 

 

 

Houston Astros:

Brandon Backe                              ( SP )

Geoff Geary                                   ( RP )

Wandy Rodriguez                          ( SP )

Tim Byrdak                                   ( RP )

Jose Valverde                                ( RP )

Humberto Quintero                        ( C )

  

 

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:

Chone Figgins                              ( 3 B )

Robb Quinlan                               ( INF )

Maicer Ituris                                 ( INF )

Ervin Santana                              ( SP )

Mike Napoli                                 ( C ) 

 

 

 

As tonight comes to a close at midnight, the name will still be pouring in and this liost might not be totally complete by tomorrow afternoon. But I will do my best to be sure that you all have the latest listing of all players tendered contracts on December 12th.

 

I will also so a listing of the players who are deemed free agents now that their respective teams have put them on the open market. That listing might be a bit different as I want to block everyone into their respective positions, instead of teams for the non-tender list.

 

I will have that listing working by tomorrow afternoon and I have not decided yet if I might make prediction on what might happen to those players. As the night grows and the list gets longer, I will determine if that would be entertaining and informative to all of you.

 

 

 

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