Tampa Bay Rays (62 days until pitchers and catchers report)
Has any prospect in the Rays system fallen farther, faster than Elliot Johnson? Many had Johnson pegged to be the Rays opening day second baseman in 2008 after a strong 2006 campaign in AA Montgomery. While his numbers were not earth-shattering, he did hit .272 with 41 extra-base hits and a .764 OPS. They don’t scream future all-star, but they were more than respectable for a second baseman in a franchise with no obvious second baseman at the major league level and no other second base prospects in the minors.
In 2007, Johnson was promoted to Durham and already on the 40-man roster, he seemed destined for a September call-up, or at least an invitation to the 2008 Spring Training with a shot at being the opening day second baseman. But rather than taking a step forward, he took a large step backwards, to the tune of the fifth worst OPS (.627) in all of AAA baseball. His batting average fell to .207 and he collected only 34 extra-base hits, despite playing in 21 more games than 2006.
Now many have written Johnson off and no longer consider him Johnson a part of the Rays future. In one season he went from cant-miss 2008 starter to candidate to be Designated for Assignment and removed from the 40-man roster. Most likely, both assertions are wrong, and Johnson falls somewhere in between. The best solution for Johnson, the Rays and Rays fans, is to chalk 2007 up to one bad season-long slump and enter 2008 as if it never happened. It is not too late for Johnson to reclaim his semi-elite status, but if his numbers don’t rebound to his 2006 totals, he is destined to be a journeyman minor leaguer.
Worst Minor League OPS’s in 2007 [Recondite Baseball]
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- Marc Lancaster is reporting that the deal with Cliff Floyd is not finalized, as had been reported yesterday on ESPN.com. The ESPN.com report stated that Floyd and the Rays had agreed to a 1-year, $3 million deal with up to $2 million in incentives. The Rays may be waiting for Floyd to pass a physical. [TBO]
- The Rays avoided arbitration with Grant Balfour and Gary Glover, by signing both to 1-year contracts yesterday. Glover will make $1.075 million in base salary, that jumps to $1.1 million with 65 appearances (He made 67 appearances in 2007). Balfour will make $500,000 if he is on the 25-man roster, $150,000 if he is in the minors. We originally thought that Balfour was out of options and could refuse an assignment to the minors. However, if he was not on the Reds 40-man roster in 2006 (spent entirely in the minors), he may have an option left. [Yahoo! Sports]
- The 40-man roster and payroll projections have been updated in the side-panel to reflect the new contracts.