Team USA 7, Panama 0.
Evan Longoria
capped the scoring for Team USA with a 2-run home run in the 7th inning. It was the first home run of the tournament for Team USA. Longoria finished 2-3 with those 2 ribbies.

DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA

  • Most of the free agent shortstops are already off the board, so it looks like the Rays will attempt to address the void in the middle infield through a trade. [TBO]
  • Why do the Rays need a shortstop? According to “The Probabilistic Model of Range” for shortstops in 2007, the Rays had the third worst shortstop defense in baseball. Individually, Brendan Harris and Josh Wilson ranked as the 3rd and 4th worst defensive shortstops in 2007 (out of 39). [Baseball Musings]
  • Any shortstop the Rays acquire may only be a one-year stopgap as Reid Brignac will most likely begin the season at AAA Durham. Despite what appeared to be poor offensive numbers on the surface (compared to 2006), The Hardball Times recognizes Brignac as one of the most improved hitters in the minor leagues in 2007. [The Hardball Times]

Brignac experienced a breakout season at the hitter-friendly California League last year, and his plate approach continued to improve as he posted career-best walk rates and strikeout rates in the Southern League this year. His traditional statistics were underwhelming in 2007 as he only hit .260 in a full season with the Montgomery Biscuits. The components of that performance are highly encouraging, however.

  • The Twins may not be interested in Rocco Baldelli. According to the Star-Tribune they have targeted BJ Upton and Delmon Young and are willing to part with Matt Garza. If the Twins stand firm, don’t look for a deal to be made. [Star-Tribune]
  • The Cubs have targeted Carl Crawford. [Daily-Herald]
  • Project Prospect ranks the top 5 players in the Rays farm system. [Project Prospect]


The Devil Rays farm system has become the envy of baseball. They had four players who ranked in the Top 15 of our Top 25 prospect list last week. They have a top Rookie of the Year candidate in the big leagues right now, in Delmon Young. And they are currently in line to be awarded the No. 1 overall Draft pick for the second year in a row. Tampa Bay really only has one path that it can take in order to compete with the big spenders in its division. And it’s taking it.

  • Sean McAdam of ESPN.com takes a look at the Rays off-season, and the holes they look to fill. [ESPN]
 
 

2 Comments

  1. Robert Rittner says:

    I wonder if there is any chance the Rays pursue the Japanese shortstop (Nioka). I think he is generally well regarded, and the Rays seem intent on building our brand in Japan. There is lots of talk they will sign at least one reliever there. Here is one commentary on him from MLB Trade Rumors:
    __________________________________
    Tomohiro Nioka Could Come To MLB

    Tomohiro Nioka is a 31 year-old shortstop for the Yomiuri Giants of Japan. He’s starting to generate a little buzz as a possible MLB crossover this winter, especially given the weak free agent shortstop market.

    Nioka will be a free agent this winter (no posting fee required). I haven’t seen any recent quotes indicating that he wants to come over here, but he did say “I’d most definitely consider playing in the Major Leagues” back in 2003.

    The Daily Herald’s Scot Gregor notes that the White Sox could opt to pursue Nioka over Juan Uribe. The Sox have had success in the past with the Tadahito Iguchi and Shingo Takatsu signings. Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star expects Nioka to come over, but doesn’t see the Jays signing him.

    Nioka hit .295/.346/.457 with 20 HR in 508 ABs this year. You can find his earlier numbers here. I talked to one Japanese fan who considers Nioka a poor man’s Akinori Iwamura. He ranks Nioka’s defense as good but not great.

    It seems likely that Nioka’s teammate, pitcher Koji Uehara, will attempt the jump to MLB this year. Perhaps Nioka will follow suit and plug a hole for the White Sox, Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Giants, or Cardinals.
    _________________________________
    Since the White Sox have re-signed Uribe, I am guessing they are out of the bidding, and as there is no posting fee, if the Rays really want him, they can probably get him.

  2. The Professor says:

    Interesting thought I had not considered, but it makes sense.

    He might be a free agent that would be a little cheaper and maybe the Rays would only have to commit to a 2-year deal with an option.

    Even if his glove is only “average” it would be an upgrade and the team would not have to make too much of a commitment if they see Brignac at the Trop in 2009.

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