Not a lot of particularly decent RF's out there. You might have trouble finding one better than Gross, if you can believe that.
Troy Percival underwent successful back surgery yesterday and is expected to be pitching sometime in March, and ready to resume his closer duties in 2009. Since the Rays are on the hook for $4 million anyways, might as well see what he's got. Let's hope this isn't Al Reyes, part deux
With the winter meetings going on, the Rays have met with Milton Bradley and Jason Giambi, and have a meeting scheduled with Bobby Abreu tomorrow. Also the rumors of a 3 way deal with the Twins and Rockies involving Garrett Atkins to MN, Delmon Young back to TB and Edwin Jackson to COL apparently are just that, rumors with not much substance. Out of the trio of Bradley, Giambi and Abreu, clearly Bradley is the guy I would want. He's only 30, led MLB in OBP and would be good for 20-25 HRS and 75-85 RBI if he stays healthy and keeps his head on straight.
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays came to terms with Jason Bartlett on Tuesday, avoiding arbitration by signing the shortstop to a one-year contract worth $1,981,250.
Clubs must submit arbitration figures by Tuesday unless they come to terms with their arbitration-eligible players. The Rays' remaining arbitration-eligible players yet to sign are Willy Aybar and Dioner Navarro.
Bartlett, 28, was acquired by the Rays in an offseason trade with the Twins prior to the 2008 season. His presence solidified Tampa Bay's infield, which resulted in his being voted the Rays' team MVP by the local Baseball Writers' Association of America chapter. He also received a fifth-place vote for the American League Most Valuable Player Award.
Bartlett gave the Rays a quality glove at shortstop, considerably improving the team's overall defense. But he was not just a glove man. He led all AL shortstops in stolen bases with 20 and ranked fourth among them in batting with a .286 average. From Aug. 2 through the season's end, Bartlett hit .353 in 35 games to raise his average by 34 points.
Bartlett's value could best be seen when he wasn't in the lineup. The Rays went 7-9 when he was on the DL and 19-18 when he did not start.
Carlos Pena undergoes successful abdominal surgery to repair some torn muscle tissue that had been bothering him since August. He will miss the WBC and representing his country, the Dominican Repulic, but should be ready for Opening Day...
...Julio Lugo, Rocco Baldelli, (last year) Kevin Cash...tit for tat
Per draysbay.com, the Rays are expected to sign Morgan Ensberg to a minor league deal, giving them depth at Durham should Longoria get hurt. He would probably then be called up to be Aybar's backup.
The Super Bowl is now behind us and it’s time to head down the home stretch of the offseason. Reporting Day is now in sight, but the Rays still are tinkering with the roster a little. A glaring area of need was addressed over the weekend as the Rays signed veteran left-handed reliever Brian Shouse to a two-year contract.
The Rays have needed a lefty specialist ever since the departure of Trever Miller. When the position opened up, I evaluated the available free-agent options and Shouse was my second choice to come to the Rays. My first choice was Arthur Rhodes, who signed with the Reds. The addition of Shouse brings another veteran to the clubhouse and now makes the Rays bullpen actually kind of old. Here are the opening-day ages of the current members of the bullpen:
* Troy Percival – 39
* Dan Wheeler – 31
* Brian Shouse – 40
* Grant Balfour – 31
* J.P. Howell – 25
* Joe Nelson – 34
* Chad Bradford – 34
* Jeff Niemann – 26
* Lance Cormier - 28
For those of you scoring at home that is an average age of 32 years old. The term "baby Rays" definitely does not apply to the bullpen. The addition of Shouse likely means the departure of Juan Salas as the Rays keep adding arms to a bullpen already overflowing with pitchers. Even after the Rays designate someone (Salas) for assignment to make room for Shouse, they still probably need to get rid of a couple more pitchers (Bradford, Derek Rodriguez) before Opening Day.
Shouse is coming off a great season for the Milwaukee Brewers in which he held lefties to a .180 average and walked only two left-handed batters all year. It took Shouse quite a long time to achieve Major League success, so I am sure he relished his time in Milwaukee last year.
Brian’s career got off to a rocky start, much like Joe Nelson’s. Shouse pitched for the Pirates against the Dodgers on August 23, 1993 – with Brett Butler the only hitter he retired. His next big league appearance would not come until April 21, 1998 as a member of the Red Sox. That night, he pitched the ninth inning of an 11-4 Boston win – surrendering two solo home runs but also striking out the side. His final appearance for the Red Sox came on May 6, 1998 against the Twins.
The Red Sox subsequently released Shouse and he would not find his way back to a Major League mound again until April 1, 2002 – a drought of almost four full years. The Kansas City Royals gave him a shot at age 33 and since then, Shouse has been able to stick around in the big leagues, though he has bounced from team to team quite a bit. I’d say the term journeyman definitely applies to Brian – the Rays are his sixth Major League team. All told, Shouse heads into the 2009 season with 422 Major League appearances and 478 minor league appearances. What a road it has been!
I think Brian will tell you all of the trouble has been worth it, as he now has a two-year deal to pitch for the AL Champs. Between Shouse and Joe Nelson, the Rays have acquired two guys with quite interesting histories. Hopefully they will succeed in helping the Rays’ bullpen have another successful season like they did in 2008.
If the Rays could find takers for Wheeler and Bradford (and their contracts), they would move them in a heartbeat. Niemann is out of options, so he will be kept on the roster in the bullpen and as a spot starter. Howell, Balfour, Nelson, and Shouse have their roles, as does Percival if he stays healthy. I doubt Cormier makes the Opening Day roster. Plus there's no guarantee that David Price will be the #4 or #5 starter...they might think he could be more effective in the bullpen and make Niemann the 5th starter. Especially if Percival is lame or ineffective.
There is an Abreu on the Rays' 60-man spring training roster, but it's not free agent outfielder Bobby. This Abreu is Winston, a 31-year-old right-handed reliever who has had stints with the Orioles (2006) and Nationals (2007), and spent last season in Japan.
The roster will undergo at least one more revision. Lefty reliever Brian Shouse is expected to be added Monday when results of his physical exam are complete and his one-year deal with an option is finalized, and a player is dropped from the 40-man roster to make room.
C Mike DiFelice, who played seven games for the Rays but spent most of the year at Triple-A Durham, officially retired as a player and will manage the Mets' rookie-league team in Kingsport, Tenn.
The Tampa Bays Rays have prevailed in their arbitration case with catcher Dioner Navarro, the player's agent said today.
Navarro will make $2.1 million this season, $400,000 less than he had requested, after a three-person arbitration panel ruled in favor of the Rays today following a hearing Monday in Phoenix.
Navarro's Tampa-based agent, Kendall Almerico, indicated there were no hard feelings between the parties as they emerged from the often contentious hearing process. Before boarding a flight to Tampa, Almerico sent along this statement via text message:
"Navi wants to thank the Rays organization for making this a fair debate and for handling the hearing with class. He is very excited to report to spring training and is looking forward to helping the team get back to the World Series."
Navarro's case was the fourth that has gone to a hearing in Rays history, and the franchise has prevailed each time. Tampa Bay beat catcher Josh Paul in 2006 and 2007 and won the verdict over pitcher Esteban Yan in 2002.
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays have signed third baseman Morgan Ensberg to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.
The former All-Star will make a base salary of $650,000 if he makes the Major League club out of Spring Training.
Ensberg, 33, hit .203 in 28 games with the Yankees in 2008 and .189 in 52 games with Cleveland's Triple-A team in Buffalo.
"Morgan's a guy who has obviously had a tremendous amount of success, and he had a rough year last year," said Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. "But we feel like the guy has a great upside. He does a lot of things we like. This is a guy a couple of years ago that one of our scouts put an 80 [on a 20-80 scouting scale] on. That's the highest grade you can get. It's a great upside for us. It's a situation for him that we feel like, in this environment, it may give him a chance to get back on track and have some success and help the team."
Ensberg has played eight Major League seasons with Houston, San Diego and New York, compiling a .263 career average with 110 home runs and 347 RBIs. His best season came with the Astros in 2005, when he hit .283 with 36 home runs and 101 RBIs.
Ensberg told ESPN.com he would have an opportunity to back up Evan Longoria at third base and Carlos Pena at first for the Rays and that he's also willing to fill in at second base and left field. If he doesn't make the Major League roster, he will begin the season with Triple-A Durham.
"I haven't had a lot of success lately, so I'm really excited about this," Ensberg told ESPN.com.
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays finalized their long-anticipated deal with veteran reliever Brian Shouse today, signing the left-hander to a one-year contract with a club option for 2010.
Shouse will make $1.35 million this season, and his option for 2010 is at $1.9 million with a $200,000 buyout.
The Rays designated for assignment reliever Juan Salas to make room on the 40-man roster for Shouse.
Port Charlotte, FL (Sports Network) - Tampa Bay finalized a deal with utilityman Willy Aybar that will keep the Rays' last available arbitration-eligible player with the organization through 2010 with a club option for 2011.
The 25-year-old Aybar will make $975,000 in 2009, $1.35 million in '10, while an option for 2011 stands at $2.2 million with a $275,000 buyout. The contract also includes escalator clauses based off at-bats.
Aybar, who made $401,200 last year, hit .253 with 10 home runs and 33 runs batted in over 95 games in 2008 after joining the Rays in an offseason trade with Atlanta.
Rays signed second baseman Adam Kennedy to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
The Cardinals cut Kennedy loose last week, eating his $4 million salary because manager Tony La Russa no longer wanted him around. He could be a decent bench player for the Rays and manager Joe Maddon knows Kennedy from their days together with the Angels, but there's zero potential for a fantasy impact.
OK beat you to this one Cowtipper
Rays sign Jason Isringhausen to a minor league deal:
Nice pickup. If he turns out healthy, he will probably get the callup should Percival get hurt again. Good move Andrew!