This story has been brewing for a while but we decided to hold off to see if Rocco’s leg would actually fall off walking to his car.
Stop us if you have heard this before…Rocco Baldelli has not pla…Ah fuck it. We’ll let Marc Topkin tell you…
The Rays first talked about Baldelli playing in the outfield by the end of this week, then pushed that back and said he would remain as the DH, with his next appearance either Thursday or today. But he stayed in St. Petersburg on Thursday spending much of the morning in the trainers’ room and while the Rays said they would wait until this morning to decide if he would play today, it didn’t sound likely.
Rocco, who has appeared in only two spring games so far, was originally scheduled to play the outfield in one of the Rays intrasquad games…Ummm, nope. Then we were told he would finally see some outfield action at the end of this week…And now that is looking like wishful thinking.
Several people have asked what are thoughts are on the matter. If you are among these people we suggest banging your head on your desk several times and you will know exactly how we feel about Rocco Baldelli. If you prefer 1,000 words on the subject, might we suggest that you go back and read a piece that we wrote on Baldelli two years ago.
Of a more immediate concern is: What are the Rays going to do with Rocco Baldelli? In regards to the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, this is not a grave concern. Here is how this will most likely play out…
- Rocco will start the season on the DL
- By the end of April we will have our first reports that Rocco could begin a rehab assignment “soon”
- In the middle of May the team will tell us that Rocco will begin a rehab assignment in “the next couple of weeks”
- In the middle of June, Rocco will begin a rehab assignment at AA Montgomery
- Two days later, Rocco will take a day off to rest his legs
- After one more start, the Rays will recall Rocco back to Tampa to meet with team doctors
- In the end, Rocco may not appear in a single game for the Rays in 2008
With Jonny Gomes and a relatively healthy Cliff Floyd, the Rays have other options in right field at DH. As fans we will finally get a chance to see what Gomes can do with 500 at bats. .260-30-90 sounds pretty good. Does anybody really doubt Gomes could hit 30 home runs in a full-time role?
The bigger question is: What do the Rays do with Rocco Baldelli after 2008? 2009 is the first of three option years on Rocco’s contract. If the Rays exercise the 2009 option it will cost them $6 million. If they choose not to, it will cost them a $4 million buyout which is a very steep price. At this point the 2010 ($8MM) and 2011 ($9MM) options (which have to be picked up together) are a pipe-dream for Rocco. There is little chance of the Rays picking those up. Further complicating matters is that the Rays have to decide on Rocco’s 2009 option on April 1st, of this year…as in three weeks from now.
But can the Rays trade Rocco? Not likely, unless they are willing to accept a similar package that they received for Elijah Dukes (i.e. a no-name low-A pitcher). The best scenario for all parties might be for the Rays and Rocco to renegotiate his contract. The Rays might be able to get Rocco to agree to $4 million for 2009 (the price of the buyout) with 2 more years guaranteed in 2010 and 2011 at $5-6 million per season.
If the Rays could get Rocco to renegotiate for 3-years and $15 million, that essentially means that anything Rocco produces in 2009 is bonus as they would have had to drop that amount either way. And that will give them the 2008 and 2009 seasons to wait for medical technology to perfect hamstring transplant procedures.
Kaz goes forward, Rocco still held back [St. Pete Times]
Baldelli’s start in the outfield is delayed [Tampa Tribune]
Does it get any better? [Rays Report]
Why the hate for Rocco? Here is why [Rays Index]
Decision Time On Rocco [MLB Trade Rumors]