Tampa Bay Rays (18 days until pitchers and catchers report)
Just the links today as we mourn the 15th anniversary of the passing of one of our childhood faves, Andre the Giant, and wish a happy birthday to another one of our childhood faves, Keith Olbermann. What better way to celebrate then to bake a chocolate cake on National Chocolate Cake Day!
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- In Marc Topkin’s latest piece, he speculates on what James Shields’ deal means for Scott Kazmir. Kazmir says that the deal has little bearing on his contract status as they are in difference situations (Kazmir is in his arbitration years). Later on in the piece Topkin raises a good point we had not considered before in regards to the recent deals for Shields and Carlos Pena. He states that even though the deals only take away a minimal number of free agent years, the contracts will also keep the Rays from being forced to trade one or the other at any time during their arbitration years. So while the players were locked up for X number of years prior to the deals (five years in Shields case) the deals do make it easier for the team to keep the players during those locked-up years. [St. Pete Times]
Shields’ deal technically would only keep him around for two extra free-agent seasons, but another benefit of these type of deals is cost certainly during arbitration years, which could prevent the Rays from having to trade him, as the Marlins did when arbitration-eligible Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis became too expensive.
- The Bradenton Herald says that the moves made this off-season are not a ploy by the team to earn support for a new stadium, and the timing is just a coincidence. [Bradenton Herald]
- Jim Hickey expects the bullpen to be much better in 2008 (Couldn’t be any worse). But what is interesting in the piece, when Hickey speaks of Troy Percival, Al Reyes, Dan Wheeler and Gary Glover. “When I end up talking about bullpen guys, you always talk about if you’re comfortable sending a guy out there, and right there are four guys I’m comfortable sending out there in pretty much any situation at all.” It is pretty clear from that quote, that Glover will be on the opening day roster. In our most recent 25-man roster projection (in the sidebar), we did not have Glover’s position listed as “secure”. We will have to change that in our next evaluation. That leaves three spots in the ‘pen. Long Reliever is likely to be one of the starting pitchers that does not win a spot in the rotation. Lefty-Specialist is a player-to-be-signed later. The final spot is up for grabs with Juan Salas and Scott Dohmann being the leading candidates (Salas has a minor league option remaining). [TBO]
- DRays Bay takes a look at every player invited to Spring Training and what each player’s chances are of making the team. [DRays Bay]
- Fox Sports lists Andy Sonnanstine as one of ten players that could break out in 2008. [Fox Sports]
With guys like Scott Kazmir, James Shields and Matt Garza in the Tampa Bay rotation, it’s easy to forget about Sonnanstine. However, he’s impressive in his own right. Sonnanstine boasts a low arm angle, an array of pitches, and an ability to change speeds. None of his offerings wow scouts, but in four minor-league seasons he logged a 2.56 ERA and a stellar strikeout-to-walk ratio of 6.2 to 1. Last season in Tampa, Sonnanstine struggled in terms of keeping runs off the board, but he did strike out more than three times as many batters as he walked. Given his command skills, Sonnanstine is one to watch in 2008.
- Evan Longoria will wear #3 in Spring Training. He wears #6 in the minors.
- The Rays have signed relief pitcher Scott Munter to a minor league contract. Munter was a 47th round selection of the Giants in 2000 and somehow has managed to earn three different stints with the Giants despite a career minor league record that includes almost as many walks (134) as strikeouts (175 in 334.1 innings). [Baseball America]
- RotoAuthority has their projection for James Shields numbers in 2008. Interestingly, the projection calls for a year not quite as a good as last year, with 13 wins and a 4.06 ERA. [RotoAuthority]