Tampa Bay Rays (27 days until pitchers and catchers report)

On Thursday, the Tampa Bay Rays acquired Willy Aybar and Chase Fontaine for Jeff Ridgway. Aybar, who will be 25 on opening day, missed all of 2007 due to a wrist injury suffered in Spring Training and a stint in a substance abuse program. Previously, he spent parts of 2005 and 2006 at the big league level, accumulating a .292-5-40 line (.803 OPS) in 105 games with the Braves and Dodgers.

Several outlets have reported that Aybar is the “super-utility” player that the Rays sought, including the St. Pete Times and the Bradenton Herald. This is curious as there is absolutely zero indication that he can play any position other than third base and short stop. Aybar is a third baseman by trade and occasionally played second base in the minors, with only one game played elsewhere (shortstop). And while he has shown a decent glove at second base, he is below-average at best at third base with a range factor (2.34) below the league average and 10 errors in 80 career games.

While the Rays may envision Aybar as their “super-utility” player down the road, the more likely scenario is that the Rays have acquired their opening day third baseman, and this is definitely nothing to get excited about. Aybar is a weak-hitting (45.2 ABs/HR as a pro), poor-defensive, shitty base stealing (50-103 SBs as a pro) third baseman…who hasn’t played organized baseball in over a year…is coming off a stint in rehab and an injured wrist. In other words Aybar has two months to get back into baseball shape and learn 4-5 new positions. This will be fun.

P.S. Aybar is out of options. He will be on the opening day roster.

Rays acquire Aybar from Braves [MLB]
Rays land utilityman; arbitration time looms [TampaBay.com]
Rays get super-utility player, solid bat in Aybar [Bradenton Herald]


  • Future Considerations profiles the “other” player in the trade, Chase Fontaine. Even though Minor League Ball thinks his name sounds like that of a 1950s musical star, we prefer “1970s Porn Star” [Future Considerations]
  • Scott Kazmir does not expect a deal to be reached with the Rays prior to the noon deadline. [TampaBay.com]

Kazmir said he would prefer to have his contract situation resolved, but understood going through arbitration was part of the business side of the game. Though hearings don’t take place until February, the Rays have a team policy to cease negotiations once salary figures are filed, which takes place at noon Friday.

  • The Jonny Gomes deal has been finalized. Gomes will make $1.275 million in 2008 with a chance to up that total to $1.3 million with 500 plate appearances. With Gomes’ new contract, the Rays will now have 11 players in 2008 that will make at least $1 million. [TampaBay.com]
  • Stacy Long takes a look at team payrolls from the past seven seasons. To no surprise the Rays have had the lowest average payroll over that span, including an average player salary of $1.1 million in 2007. [Talk Alabama]
  • The St. Pete City Council has set three dates in which the public will be able to voice their opinions concerning the proposed $450 million stadium to be built along the St. Pete waterfront. Here is hoping for the sake of the City Council, that the Heckler does not show up. HEY COUNCILMANNNN! THIS IDEA IS TERRIBLEEEE DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT TRYING TO BUILD THIS NEW STADIUMMMMMM. MY VOICE WILL NEVER TRAVEL AS WELL IN AN OUTDOOR STADIUMMMMMM. HOT DOGGGGGG! [TBO]
  • The St. Pete City Council voted 7-1 to request proposals for the New Stadium proposed by the Tampa Bay Rays. This does not mean the stadium has been approved. Only that the city is willing to see what ideas different developers can come up with and how much money each of those developers thinks the project will generate for the area…In other news, water is wet. [TampaBay.com]
  • One blogger ranks the pitchers in the Rays organization (Matt Garza is #1?) and profiles Andy Sonnanstine. [Variables Don’t; Constants Aren’t]


  1. Devil Ray Guevara says:

    utility guy? maybe. but can we drop the "super-utility" title! wow. when i read those headlines, i assumed he was a chone figgans-type and had experience all over the place.

    as for the trade. it's fine. they gave up nothing. at worst he is an upgrade over Zobrist for the back-up infielder. But if this guy is the everyday thirdbaseman any longer than the all-star break, I will pull my hair out.

  2. The Professor says:

    i dont mean to belittle Aybar. He has a solid .387 OBP and a 47:46 strikeout to walk ratio as a big leaguer.

    He is a good bat. Not a great bat. He won't be a run-producer, but he will get on base. He does have speed. But Maddon better not give him a green light.

    And every indication is that he has the "ability" to play mulitple positions. I am just concerned that he has never done it before, it is more difficult than just giving him a different glove and saying "go get 'em!" Even the outfield is not an easy transition for somebody that has never done it. Look at how uncomfortable Delmon Young looked in center last season and he is already an outfielder. There have been plenty of players that tried to transition to the outfield and failed miserably.

  3. ben says:

    Do you think prof, that he'll beat out Guzman for the starting third base job if Longoria isn't ready?

  4. The Professor says:

    I think we have to assume that if the season started today and Aybar is healthy, he is the starting third baseman.

    I am resigned to the idea that Longoria is going to start season in AAA so that his arbitration clock doesnt start and save the team a season in salary.

    Guzman? If we assume Aybar is on the roster (out of options), then the final bench spot may come down to Guzman or Zobrist. Guzman can play the outfield so that may give him an edge. He is also solid with the glove. So maybe Guzman beats out Benny Boo Boo.

    Aybar is a swtich-hitter, so a Guzman-Aybar platoon is not out of the question, with Guzman starting against lefties. Aybar was stronger against righties in 2005 (OPS of 984 v 732). However in 2006 it was just the opposite (825 OPS versus lefties and 746 v RHP).

  5. Marc says:

    Yes, he is a utility guy. He should do swell in their organization!



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