• Yesterday, the Rays added Wade Davis, Jake McGee and Dale Thayer to the 40-man roster. The moves give the Rays 39 players on the 40-man roster.This is significant because with an open slot on the 40-man roster, the Rays will be able to make a selection in the upcoming Rule 5 draft. Given the Rays need for help in the bullpen and the current nature of the payroll (it’s high) it would not surprise us to see the Rays select a player with a real shot at being on the roster all season. The Rule 5 draft will be held December 11. [Rays Index]
  • The Rays released the schedule of games for their first Spring Training at Charlotte Sports Park. The first game will be a home game on February 25 versus the Reds at 1:05. [The Heater]
  • David Chalk of Bugs and Cranks continues his latest “Ain’t S#!t” series comparing other nominees to Joe Maddon for Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Year” award. [Bugs and Cranks]
  • David Chalk of Bugs and Cranks points out there is precedent for a coach to win Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Year” award. [Bugs and Cranks]
  • The various Rays prospects in the Arizona Fall League have concluded their season. Biscuit Crumbs has the final stats. [Biscuit Crumbs]


  1. Surveyman82 says:

    Since our Rays have experienced some maturity last season, why not fill our needs with by signing some real major leaguers in free agency than trying pickoff the scrap heap of career minor leaguers and high draft picks who don't pan out. Really, what else is the rule 5 draft anyways. You have 2 holes to fill Right field and a closer. Maybe now 3 holes with Trevor Miller going to St louis. Fuentes would look really good in a Rays uni.

  2. The Professor says:

    the Rays will look at relievers through free agency and try to fill Rf through a trade. the big problem right now is the payroll. Last year it was at ~$43 million. With several players facing arbitration and raises, the payroll in 2009 is already pushing $60 million. adding anybody through free agency is just going to add to that.

    they should be able to find a decent reliever (not a closer) for $2-4 million per year. But finding a bargain right fielder in free agency is much more difficult. so that will most likely be filled via trade in which the Rays move Jackson or Sonnanstine.

    as we have stated before there is also the possibility of trading Aybar or Zobrist. The Rays would prefer to keep both but they may have good value in the trade market if another team sees one as a starter. if they are moved, that could open a spot on the bench that will need to be filled.

    and the Rays still need a lefty in the pen.

    anyway, the point is just that the Rule 5 draft is just another area in which a need could be filled on the cheap.

  3. Clayton says:

    Is anyone watching who is unprotected? Any players the Rays might be targeting.

    And while Rule 5 might be a trash heap, let's not forget what Josh Hamilton has done for the two teams he's played for.

  4. The Professor says:

    I haven't looked too closely at the available talent yet. But I haven't heard anybody mention any big names, so definitely no Josh Hamiltons out there. Not to mention the Rays don't pick until #30

  5. JB says:

    Hey man. I dig the blog. Keep up the good work!

  6. Robert Rittner says:

    I think one big mistake the Rays could make, although I think this management team is too smart to make it, is to sign someone with the designation "closer", i.e. someone like Fuentes. That would almost certainly hamstring Maddon into the most inefficient use of the bullpen, forcing him to hold back this "valuable" property for 9th inning duty instead of using him when he might be most needed. It would cost more and provide less value than simply trying to find a useful lefty specialist. Any of the current Rays, if they can maintain their effectiveness of 2008-or close to it-can be used for mopping up the 9th inning with 1-2-3 run leads.

  7. Surveyman82 says:

    Rays payroll double speak doesn't cut it anymore. In business you have spend money to make money. Over the last 10 years the D-rays received enough corporate welfare from Big George and the Yankees, to go out and spend on a impact free agent. But instead we get a fresh coat of paint, faux brick crap near the score board, those dumb looking baseball bats around the outside of "the pit". I m so sick of watching guys like Ben Grieve, Travis Lee, and Cliff Floyd (10years past his prime) as guys coming in on the cheep who are suppose to make a difference. Really, 10 years of watching marginal ballplayers come into the organization is the reason why this town has never cared about the team.
    The Rays have nice core young talent, bring in a impact free agent to put them over the top. We are in position to dominate our Division. Our Pitching depth is insane, don't trade Ejack or Sonny, they both have future.
    Spend the money get a big bat DH/RF.

  8. Surveyman82 says:

    Who would you be more fearful of in the Bottom of the 9th.... Brain Fuentes or Dan Wheeler? John Buck from the Royal sure wasn't...
    Your Closer has got to be nasty look at how we got beat in the series Lidge shut us down. No Late innings heroics. The heart of our lineup got iced.
    Really, do you want to hear "Enter Sandman" by Metallica and have Tyler Walker step out of the bullpen, again.

  9. DirtbagFan says:

    You have tunnel vision. The Rays don't need anything to "put them over the top", they just made it to the top with what they had. All they need is a solid RF (which can be addressed from within if need be) and a LHRP, and to cross their fingers that the 'pen can come close to duplicating its performance from this season. Don't get dragged into that Yankees/Redskins "buy a championship" mentality... look how well it's worked for them.

    BTW, according to his teammates Cliff Floyd (10 years past his prime, as you put it) made an immeasurable difference last season just by teaching the young guys how to be professionals day in and day out.

  10. The Professor says:

    RR, i agree in part. one thing this organization does consistently is that they prepare themselves to make decisions but rarely make the decision until it is absolutely necessary. Freidman does it with personnel moves and Maddon does it with his lineup and moves during a game.

    In the case of a closer...Most seem to think there are only two options. a designated "closer" or a committee. Maddon (as is his genius) employs both. what i mean is, he does play matchups and he is not afraid to use his best pitchers in the most important situations, be it the 6th, 7th or any inning. But, he also has an idea before the game of who he wants in certain innings. And while there was no closer after Percy went down, Wheeler was the guy in the 9th inning more often than not.

    I think we will see the same next season whether it is Percival, Wheeler or Juan Cruz. Maddon will have a 9th inning guy, but he will not be afraid to deviate from that when necessary. I also think it will be a veteran guy in the 9th inning. There is still something psychological about the 9th inning even if it is not the heart of the lineup. there is more of a sense of urgency because there is no room for error like there is in earlier innings. And veterans tend to keep their cool a little better which is why we saw Wheeler repeatedly and not Balfour or Howell.

  11. The Professor says:

    and Surveyman82, i understand your frustration. it hasnt been that long since this team was doing those things. but they did just go to the World Series on a $43MM payroll and next year's lineup is going to be almost identical and they are adding David Price to the mix.

    A lack of closer is not why they lost the World Series. There were no blown 9th inning leads. The bats went cold at the wrong time.

  12. Robert Rittner says:

    I agree with you professor. The key is to avoid rigidity, and both the front office and Maddon seem immune from that failing.

    I consider the role of designated closer vastly overrated. Leads are rarely blown in the 9th inning, no matter who is used there, and for most of baseball history there was no such role at all.

    I won't argue that there is no psychological factor at all in getting those last 3 outs, and I think your reasoning on that matter is sound. But I also think that the particular capacity to have that "ice water in the veins" is far more common than usually assumed, and that most good relievers can fill the role just fine.

    What has happened is that the save stat has created both a psychological crutch and an economic interest in using one person exclusively for 9th inning work. Few managers can buck the perception that they will lose games if they bring a Rivera or Hoffman in during a critical 7th inning situation rather than saving them for a more dubious need in the 9th.

    And the star closers would not abide losing the save opportunities because their contracts are often based on that stat. Witness the furor over K-Rod now, despite the fact that he was not particularly fabulous, that other closers were better and that a serious argument can be made that relievers such as Howell, Balfour and others elsewhere were more valuable to their teams.

  13. Robert Rittner says:

    Incidentally, your point about no World Series game being lost because of an inferior closer is very cogent. In fact, the two games that were lost by relievers, Howell both times, came when a closer would not have been used.

    As for Lidge's role, no doubt he was instrumental in the Phillies winning games 1 & 5, but there is no reason to think that had the Rays been able to take a lead late whoever they used would not have been just as successful. If there was a difference, it was not Lidge, but that the set-up and middle relievers for the Phillies were more effective than those of the Rays.

    Of the 5 relievers Philadelphia used, only 1 gave up any runs (Madson), and even he was effective most of the times he was used. Of the 7 the Rays used, 6 gave up runs (all except Bradford). Closers had nothing to do with the losses.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Agreed. There was a post on here a while back about saves. Correct me if I am wrong but I think Percival did not have a single save situation on which he came in with the tying run on base. And yet Balfourhad 3 or 4 of those

  15. Surveyman82 says:

    Koolaid Drinkers!

    Wow! Did I say we lost because of not having a closer? No, we lost because they had a great closer!!!! Do we want Wheeler or Balfour(and his one pitch, and schizophrenic mound routine ) or a guy who can Shut it down? and Ice em. Three up three down.
    To get a guy like that you got put up the money or have the guts to make a move. (i.e. holding on the Brignac as an untouchable prospect and then he hurst his wrist, brilliant!)

    All we need is one piece, one impact free agent not a bunch of overprice dirtbags like on the yankees. Did I say anything about buying a championship! Nope! Just make move, instead of trying to play "Moneyball".

  16. Robert Rittner says:

    In my view you are overrating the role of their great closer. Lidge closed out games 1 & 5, preserving one run leads in both cases. He had a terrific year and those 2 saves were very important. But there is nothing unusual about relievers finishing off 1 run games, nor is there any reason to think the Rays would not have won had they come to the 9th with the same lead. They did it often enough all year.

    More to the point is that there is plenty of evidence that teams with great closers are just as prone to losing the big games as those without. By common consent, Mariano Rivera is one of the great shutdown closers of all time, and deservedly so. Yet it was Rivera who blew a save in game 4 of the 1997 ALDS, one that would have won that series for NY, again in game 7 of the 2001 World Series and twice again in games 4 & 5 of the 2004 ALCS, again games that would have given the series to NY.

    Even more to the point is that time and again huge outlays for "closers" or big name relievers prove wasteful. Even Lidge was acquired after 2 years in which he had been awful and then simply ok. Many criticized the Rays in recent years for not laying out money for relievers like Riske, Speier, Dotel, Gagne, Baez, Ffoulke and others. Some of them worked out; others didn't. And the same goes for star closers such as Billy Wagner.

    On the other hand, some very useful relievers were acquired via "dumpster diving". Soria stands out, but so do Balfour, Ziegler and others.

    The comments about spending money and "moneyball" approaches are old hat and irrelevant to the discussion. When considered worthwhile, the Rays have spent, as they did acquiring Bradford whose contract is not team friendly. But assembling a contending team is not about "signing real major leaguers in free agency". It is about assessing a team's needs and finding creative ways to fill them.

    I have no problem should they sign Fuentes, which I doubt they will. But I do not really want them to do it as he will not just be overpriced, but will force Maddon into an inefficient use of the bullpen.

    Incidentally, Floyd is certainly past his prime, but he was an excellent signing and had a good year for the Rays.

  17. Robert Rittner says:

    I do agree, by the way, with your concern about Balfour, and am not convinced that Howell can repeat either. Wheeler is also better suited to less critical situations (that is larger ninth inning leads or entering games with nobody on base) and Bradford has trouble with lefties and was not as extreme a ground ball pitcher with the Rays as he had been previously.

    But the answer to those perceived problems is not to offer multi-year contracts to big names. It is to acquire enough backup relievers who have specific skills as possible and have them ready to step up. Indeed that is what happened with Balfour; originally it was Dohmann and Glover who made the team.

    Every move involves a risk, but the worst risk is squandering resources, especially commitment to lengthy contracts to relievers, no matter how marvelous they have been recently.

    I am not dogmatic about this. If the Rays can get Fuentes or Wood for one or even two years I will not complain. But I still prefer a flexible bullpen usage pattern to one where a particular pitcher is saved for the ninth inning.

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