ODDSMAKERS

What are the chances Andrew Friedman completes a trade in the next week?

Willy Aybar is currently on a rehab assignment in Vero Beach and he is getting playing time at 2B, suggesting the Rays are preparing Aybar to be a utility-player on the big club when he comes off the DL next week. The problem is, only 2 players on the Rays’ bench have minor league options, Shawn Riggans and Ben Zobrist. Aybar has not seen any time at shortstop on his rehab assignment (or catcher) so both of those players jobs are safe. That leaves one of Jonny Gomes, Eric Hinske and Gabe Gross without a chair when the music stops. Gomes figures to stay as the right-handed DH. So it seems that World B. Friedman will try and move either Hinske or Gross. Gross is the best defensive right fielder, so Hinske’s ride with the Rays may be a short one. The question then becomes can the Rays find a trade partner? There have been a slew of players with similar resumes placed on waivers this season, which suggests that other teams are willing to wait for Hinske to be DFA’d...18%

What are the chances we see Reid Brignac in a Rays uniform before the end of the year?

Reid Brignac’s bat has come alive in May where he is hitting .362/.352/.638 in 69 at bats. But notice that the OBP is less than his batting average. That is because he has zero walks in May. Still, Baseball America calls himone of the better defensive shortstops in the IL“. He is only 22, but if the Rays have any thoughts of giving Brignac the shortstop job in ’09, they may want to give him a cup-of-coffee in September. Remember, Brignac’s situation is different from Evan Longoria. In September of last year, Longoria had just made his AAA debut and was still only about 14 months removed from being drafted. Brignac will have been in AAA all year and this marks his 4th full season as a pro…88%

TOSS UP

Pedro Alvarez or Tim Beckham or Buster Posey?

Recent mock drafts from Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, have Beckham going to the Rays with the top pick, while John Sickels lists Posey as the top player available. To us, catchers are like pitchers. You can never have too many, and the Rays have too few. On the other hand, catchers are as big a gamble as pitchers in the draft, so buyer-beware. Our gut tells us that the choice is Alvarez or Beckham. We drool everytime we read a report on Beckham, but teams like the Rays (close to contention) tend to prefer college players that can join the parent club sooner, rather than later. We don’t see signability as an issue as the Rays will worry about that when then time comes. But where would Alvarez play? Obviously not third base as long as Dirtbag is around. Is it a coincidence that the Rays gave Carlos Pena a deal that expires at the end of the ’09’10 season, just when Alvarez figures to be ready for the show? We don’t believe in coincidences…PEDRO ALVAREZ

Josh Beckett/Daisuke Matsuzaka or James Shields/Scott Kazmir?

This all depends on your point of view. Beckett is the premiere post-season pitcher of our generation and Dice-K is starting to earn some of that Y600 million. The Red Sox would choose their own because they represent a better chance at winning the world series this year. But that is not necessarily the goal of the Rays who are trying to build a foundation capable of sustained sucess within a realistic budget. For the Rays…Kid K and James the Greater (but ask us again in October if the Rays are in the Series)

OVER/UNDER

8 starts for David Price in Vero Beach:

King David made his pro debut last night nearly a year after being drafted by the Rays with the top pick. He worked 5 scoreless innings, striking out 4 and walking 1. After some minor arm problems this spring, Price was on a strict pitch-count in his debut. We can’t see Price working more than 5 innings in any of his first 4 starts. After that, the Rays will begin to stretch him out a bit. Barring any further setbacks, Price figures to have about 18-19 starts left in ’08 and no doubt the Rays would like to get Price to Montgomery before the end of the year. It will be close, but it will probably be more like 10 starts in Vero Beach before a promotion…OVER

6 more starts in the field this season for Jonny Gomes:

This is a tough one. After Gomes’ “Keystone Kops” routine in left field on Wednesday afternoon, we are fairly certain that Papa Joe Maddon was tempted to tell Gomes to go ahead and put his mitt on eBay. But if the Rays do trade/DFA Eric Hinske or Gabe Gross in the next week, Gomes may have to get the occasionaly start. There are about 19 weeks left in the regular season. We can see Gomes getting 8-10 more starts, but we will have our eyes covered in every one…OVER

2 All-Stars for the Rays:

Couldn’t give us 1.5? OK. James Shields, Scott Kazmir, Troy Percival, Carl Crawford, BJ Upton and Dioner Navarro all have very legit shots to be named to the all-star team. Only once in the history of the franchise has more than one Rays player been on an all-star squad and that was because Jose Canseco had to be replaced as an injured player. 5 players with a legit shot. Kazmir’s chances are hurt because he missed the first month. Shields needs a 4 or 5 win June to get serious consideration. Percy seems like a nice feel-good story on the feel-good team. Navi is hitting his weight, which usually is not a good thing, but in his case that is a nice treat. We would say Percy and Navi are in as reserves. But will Terry Francona give three Rays a spot? We can’t say “2″? Damn. If it was a manager in another division or Joe Torre (who always loaded his squads with 9 Yankees) we would be skeptical, but Francona has shown a level of respect for the Rays. Look for either CC or Bossman Jr to join Navi and Percy…OVER

2 Wins for the Rays in this series against the O’s:

In other words, we have to choose between a sweep or losing the series?!? At 24-22 the Orioles may actually be a bigger surprise this season than the Rays. Most had the O’s as the worst team in baseball before the season started. Now they are in 3rd place in the AL East and 2.5 games off the Wild Card pace. They are only 10-15 on the road and are coming off 2 straight losses in Yankee Stadium after winning 5 of 6. Tonight’s starter, Jeremy Guthrie is only 2-4 but he is sporting a 3.86 ERA. He has been very consistent this year, something that cannot be said of Matt Garza. Tomorrow, is our old friend Steve Trachsel, the human rain delay, and his 6.75 ERA. It kills us to say this, but that should be an easy win for Edwin Jackson. Finally on Sunday we get a battle of Aces in James Shields and the 5-1 Daniel Cabrera. After his last start we fully expect a solid bounce-back performance from James the Greater. But can the Rays sweep? Tonight is the key if the Garza Complex can get the series off on the right foot, look for the O’s to begin their slide back into loserdome, while the Rays open up a little space in the Wild Card race…OVER

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3 Comments

  1. DirtbagFan says:

    I'm far from a baseball pundit, but doesn't it seem obvious that the Rays have been giving Hinske (by far the lesser fielder) the starts in RF over Gross just as a means of showcasing him in an attempt to generate interest for a trade?
    I personallly like both players better than Gomes, but for some reason everyone is in love with 'ol Jonny--in my humble opinion I believe that Gross has the better up-side than Hinske and should be the mainstay in RF by the break.

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  2. Michael says:

    One small correction from the draft discussion: Pena signed a 3-year contract in January, so it doesn't expire until the end of 2010. Still, I don't see it as a factor when deciding the Rays first pick. I've seen Alvarez's bat compared favorably to Ryan Braun, so that bat will play at 1B, RF, DH, or wherever -- I just don't see how you can pass that up.

    Also, remember back when the Rangers looked like they had Hank Blalock locked in at 3B for a long-time, but that didn't stop them from picking the best and most major-league ready bat in Mark Teixiera, who also happened to play 3B. I can't see it as ever being a mistake to pick the best hitter in a given draft, especially in the league that uses the DH, no matter who you have in the majors right now.

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  3. The Professor says:

    1. i think you are right and from what I have read from Maddon, I think he prefers Gross, ever so slightly, and it would make sense that if Hinske is the one to be traded, he would be in there everyday.

    2. thanks for catching that. momentary brainfart. Posey wouldn't be ready by end of '09. Not even Longoria was brought up that quick. He would be ready by end of '10. and yes. draft the best available. too many good players is never a problem.

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