Tampa Bay Rays (19 days until Opening Day)
Not the best day in the world to be a Rays fan. We just reported about the cheapshots thrown by the Yankees in the today’s spring games (we apologize, for the excessive profanity). This came after this morning’s press conference to announce that Rocco Baldelli will start the season on the DL with a still unidentified muscle condition.
Baldelli said he had some type of “metabolic, and/or mitochondrial abnormalities, basically along the lines my body isn’t making or producing ATP the right way, and therefore not allowing my muscles to work as they should and recover like they’re supposed to on a day-to-day basis.”
Andrew Friedman noted that the Rays will continue to help Baldelli, but that at this point it is unlikely that the team would pick up his 2009 option ($6 million). Declining the option will cost the Rays a $4 million buyout.
At this point we need to seriously consider the possibility that Rocco has played his last game for the Rays and possibly his last game as a major league baseball player. If this is the case, it will be a sad end to a once promising career.
P.S. Shelley Duncan is still a little bitch.
Baldelli headed to the DL with fatigue [Tampa Bay Rays]
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- As far as the Rays in-house options to replace Rocco Baldelli as the Rays’ fourth outfielder, Joe Maddon will have to decide between Jon Weber, whom Maddon says is the better defensive outfielder and John Rodriguez, whom Maddon says is the better offensive option. Both will get considerable playing time in the near future and the decision may be based on who can handle center field better. [The Heater]
- Outs Per Swing does not like the idea of bringing Kenny Lofton on board, when the Rays have a suitable solution in-house with Justin Ruggiano…We tend to agree. We don’t see Lofton as a difference-maker this year and think Jonny Gomes can handle the everyday right field job with one of several candidates good enough to step-up and be the Rays fourth outfielder (Eric Hinske?). Of course one thing going for Jon Weber is that he has played on a championship team six of the last seven years and just missed his seventh straight last year with the Bulls. [Outs Per Swing]
- To continue with the injury-news, Andy Cannizaro is being treated for a recurring back problem. With the regular backup shortstop, Ben Zobrist out 4 weeks already, it now appears as though Elliot Johnson’s hot spring has earned him a shot to be the backup shortstop. He will likely get some time at short this week. [Rays Report]
- Elliot Johnson says he is a hard-nosed player and expressed no regrets for the collision at home plate this past weekend. The Rays hoped that Johnson would enter camp and cut down on trying to hit home runs and lower his strikeout totals. So far it is working and Joe Maddon has taken notice. [Tampa Bay Rays]
“He’s a very good athlete and I think there’s a lot of positions that he could play,” Maddon said. “I want him to become more involved defensively, because this guy is very gifted, you can see that…He’s handled himself extremely well, and I’ve told him so,” Maddon said. “He’s out here playing hardball every day and that’s what he’s all about.”
- We mentioned previously that the PECOTA projection system predicted a 22-win increase for the Rays in 2008, and now SI.com’s Nate Silver looks at that number and the Rays roster and sees the 1994 Cleveland Indians. [SI.com]
Forget about the ’87 Indians; the relevant team to consider here is the ’94 Tribe, which reversed a string of seven consecutive losing seasons by going 66-47 in a strike-shortened season. Like those Indians, who went on to win five straight division titles behind such rising stars as Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome, the Rays have plenty of young mashers.
- Somebody else suggested we use THIS JOKE on our site. We think it is a little rough considering we are talking about a guy who has what is apparently a genetic disorder and may never be able to play again. [Hugging Harold Reynolds]
- CNBC is running a bracket-style tournament to find the best minor league baseball logo. The Montgomery Biscuits were up on DAY 1, while both the Columbus Catfish and the Durham Bulls are in the running on DAY 2. [CNBC]