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]

 
 

14 Comments

  1. Big Mike says:

    i think the best bet is to just keep Rocco sidelined until July and then see if we can get half a season of healthy Rocco and then try to trade him. his talent along should still find somebody that might give up a major league reliever or a decent starting pitcher prospect.He is still only 26 years old.

  2. Sean G says:

    wow. i remember when people thought Rocco was stupid for making the deal he made (without an agent). now it is looking like he is going to get a big payday either way, even though he has not played fulltime in four years

  3. Ben says:

    Do you think the rays after this season are just going to give up on Rocco and try and get something in a trade for him? Would any body even be interested in the man with glass bones and paper skin?

  4. The Professor says:

    nobody is going to take Rocco without a renegotiation. He is owed $23MM over the next three years and nobody is going to trade for him and not pick up the option.

    if the Rays can renegotiate the deal, they might be able to trade him. otherwise they are stuck with Rocco unless they want to write him a $4MM check in three weeks and say adios at the end of the year. not likely.

  5. Anonymous says:

    what a huge waste of money this guy was/is. shit is ridiculous.

  6. BobsBlog says:

    Any whispers that perhaps steroid abuse is causing Rocco’s breakdowns?

  7. Anonymous says:

    actually, there are rumors floating around that Rocco has a degenerative muscle disease and that when doctors examine his muscles, they look like the muscles of a 50 year old.

  8. The Professor says:

    I have read those rumors also. i have no way to know if they are real or not. they do seem to make sense, but again there is nothing to suggest they are true.

  9. TK says:

    I guess you have to pick up the ’09 option since it’s only a net $2 million difference. But I see no reason to renegotiate the following two years.

    Wait and see. Is it an early deadline each year?

  10. The Professor says:

    if there are serious questions about his longterm health then the best bet may be to just pick up the $6MM and then cutbait at the end of 2009.

    but if the Rays think that Rocco has a future as a major league player then they are better served keeping him bc he has zero trade value only they cant keep him at those rates.

    they are in a position right now where they can get the price down on those years and Rocco would have to take it since there is no team would ever pick up those options and there is no telling what his price would be on the open market.

  11. TK says:

    I totally get what you’re saying. Given what the team has been through with him, nobody wants to see him walk away with nothing to show for it.

    But look at the market. The Reds just signed Corey Patterson for a minor league deal. To me, that’s about where Baldelli is at this point in his career. Somebody that a team would take a cheap chance on to see if there’s anything that can be done to salvage his career, but no way do they give up a player for him. Double no way do they give up a player for him if he’s making 4-5 million a year.

    Barring some miraculous recovery this year, he’s a sunk cost. The more I think about, the more I’d be tempted to do the buyout for 2009.

    Or, alternatively, you say to Rocco: in exchange for picking up your 2009 option, we want to revise your deal so that the next two years’ options are for $1 million and $1.5 million. Something like that. Of course that could violate the CBA for all I know.

  12. The Professor says:

    your last scenario is basically what i am trying to accomplish…only cheaper on the front end ($4MM) and more on the back end. Of course I and the team would prefer your prices, i am just not sure they would happen. Rocco would probably choose to take his chances on the open market.

    but i do see what you are saying in todays market it would prolly just be an incentive laden contract. so then maybe the Rays can offer guaranteed salaries in the $2MM range with incentives that would bring the totals up to $5-6MM depending on games played or at bats.

  13. TK says:

    Right on, incentives could be the way to make it work. I guess I’m coming around on your idea – you could certainly argue that the team has all the leverage right now.

  14. Big Mike says:

    did you guys just negotiate a contract for Rocco?

    Done! let’s get it signed.

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