Royals 4, Devil Rays 1.
Only the Rays could throw up a stinker and make Brian Bannister look like Johan Santana.

The Devil Rays finally made changes to the rotation that we all have patiently waited for. OK, maybe we weren’t very patient at times. Jae Seo has been designated for assignment and Casey Fossum has been banished to the bullpen. Hey! The Rays have a lefty in the pen! Andy Sonnanstine and JP Howell were called up to take their places in the rotation. In addition, Jae Kuk Ryu was demoted to Durham where he will join the Bulls rotation.

So what does this mean for each of the players involved, what does it mean for the team and what does it mean for the fans?

The Rays have 10 days to try and work a trade for Seo. Will there be any takers? Hard to say. The Rays are still on the hook for about $850K of Seo’s $1.2 million salary for 2007. Therefore it is in the best interest of the team’s pocket books to try and find a trade partner. While the amount is small for most teams we can’t see anybody offering anything of substance and acquiring the contract. More likely teams will sit tight, and in ten days Seo will be released and signed to a minor league contract by somebody.

The Rays would also like to move Fossum and the rest of his contract. He is in the final year of his contract and is set to earn $2.2 million this season. There is a team option for $3 million next season. Moving Fossum to the bullpen gives the team some time to look for a trade partner. There is likely to be more suitors for Fossum’s services as he is a lefty and the move to the bullpen will give the Rays a chance to audition Fossum for other teams that may be in the market for a lefty bullpen arm for the stretch drive.

Howell will get the start on Sunday and Sonnanstine will throw on Tuesday in Toronto. For Howell, with Jeff Niemann, Jason Hammel and Mitch Talbot still lurking at Durham, this is likely his last chance to prove that he belongs in the Rays rotation. No telling how many starts he will get but look for 10-15 outings at the end of which the team will evaluate and either keep him in the rotation or make a move to Niemann or Hammel.

Sonannstine is the big mystery. In his last outing at Durham he gave up 10 hits and 6 innings. We mentioned that this should be a red flag for Rays fans because Sonny is not overpowering and he always in the strike zone which means if he doesn’t have his best stuff he is hittable. Well, now comes this scouting report from Shawn Riggans who caught Sonny for most of his starts. Riggans confirms exactly what we should all worry about.

Sonnie, he’s excellent. He pounds the zone. His game is either going to go one way or the other. He’s either going to dominate you or you’re going to pound him because he throws so many strikes. He uses three different arm angles, from up top, three quarters, and low three-quarters. Three pitches from each arm angle, excellent control, he doesn’t walk many guys. He’s working on coming inside a little more. Down and away is his money pitch, fastball down and away; slider in the same location. The one problem he has is coming inside, sometimes it leaks out over the plate. He can still throw fastballs by guys with his deception.

All he does is throw strikes and all he does is win. But that was the minor leagues. Lots of pitchers can get minor leaguers out. It will be much more difficult to fool major leaguers. We are pulling for Sonny but we have to admit that we are worried that he will be a classic AAAA pitcher. Hope we are wrong.

And for Rays fans? Well, the beer will go down a little easier tonight knowing that we never have to watch Jae Seo or Casey Fossum start a game in a Rays uniform…Ever.




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