FIRST INNING (A look back)…
The Rays appear to be one of the leading candidates to land free agent Milton Bradley…Knowing how the Rays handled fellow trouble-makers Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes, is it surprising the Rays are interested in Bradley?

There is a stark difference between these three players. Dukes has been arrested several times and suspended numerous times. And several of the suspensions were related to confrontations with teammates and coaches. Young was once suspended 50 games for throwing a bat at an umpire and had several run-ins with Joe Maddon. While Bradley is a hot-head, you never hear teammates and coaches complaining about Bradley (except maybe Jeff Kent, but he complained about everybody). That is because, as Maddon pointed out yesterday, Bradley always plays hard and never takes an at bat off. And of course, neither Dukes nor Young has ever even dreamed of posting an OPS+ of 163…YOUNG AND DUKES ARE NOT IN THE SAME LEAGUE

SECOND INNING (Headlines)…
Speaking of Delmon Young, there are rumors that the Rays are talking to the Twins about bringing Young back to the Rays…Is this even possible?

When we heard the first rumor, we assumed that Andrew Friedman was just exploring all possibilities. But when we heard the second rumor, we now are forced to believe that this is a real possibility. The Twins have already named their starting outfield for ’09 and that does not include Young, so there is a need to make a trade. The Rays just happen to need a right fielder. And despite his lack of domination so far in his career, Young will only be 23 in 2009 and one of these years he is going to discover his power stroke. When the Rays traded Young after the ’07 season, it was because they were trying to fill two needs moreso than any doubt they had in Young’s abilities. Still, in the end, we think the Rays will find a better option elsewhere…YES BUT NOT LIKELY

THIRD INNING (Headlines)…
Joe Strauss says the Rays and Cardinals match up well and wonders if a trade could be worked out with the Cardinals acquiring Andy Sonnanstine or Edwin Jackson for one of their left-handed hitting outfielders…Of the outfielders, are any of them worth one of the starting pitchers straight-up?

We agree with one commenter that said “Please God, not Chris Duncan.” Of the other three, only Ankiel seems to make sense. The Rays are reported to be looking for power. Ankiel is the only guy in that group that will hit 25 home runs in 2009. Obviously Rasmus is a great talent and full of potential, but we think the Rays would prefer somebody that is more major league-ready. But is Ankiel worth Jackson or Sonnanstine? It seems to us that the Cardinals would have to add a prospect to the pot…ANKIEL, BUT NOT STRAIGHT UP

FOURTH INNING (Headlines)…
The Mayor of Las Vegas is drooling over the Rays…Should Rays fans be concerned?

About moving to Vegas? No. Major League Baseball is way too image conscious to ever put a major league team in Vegas. That being said, the Rays do need to reach some sort of resolution with respect to a stadium either in St. Pete or Tampa or talk with other cities will start to heat up. If we had to guess, we would say San Antonio would be the front-runner, but don’t think Stuart Sternberg won’t explore a move to Brooklyn. The Mets and Yankees each drew more than 4 million fans in 2008. New York could easily support a third team. As for the currnet situation, in a few years, the cost of buying out the Trop’s lease will become less prohibitive and could be offset by the contributions of another city towards a new ballpark…YES, BUT NOT ABOUT VEGAS

FIFTH INNING (Headlines)…
Andrew Friedman recently said the Rays are open to talking with their three remaining free agents, Rocco Baldelli, Eric Hinske and Cliff Floyd…Is it possible that any of these players will be back with the Rays in 2009?

We are not sure it will sink in until we see him wearing a Red Sox uniform, but it seems like Rocco’s career with the Rays is over. Floyd has decided to rehab his shoulder and will play in 2009, but the Rays would prefer a more dependable player. On the other hand, it would not shock us if the Rays bring Hinske back as a left-handed DH. Of course this depends on whether the impact bat they seek is a right fielder or a DH. If it is the former, Hinske becomes more attractive. But we have to wonder if he will still be available…YES

SIXTH INNING (A look outside the box)…
[Rain delay: queue Tommy Boy]

SEVENTH INNING (Oddsmakers)…
Chances Milton Bradley is playing for the Rays in 2009?

With word that the Cubs are in serious talks with Bradley, this is a long shot. The Rays are more likely to wait out the market and hope some scraps come their way on the cheap…16%

Chances Jason Giambi is playing for the Rays in 2009?

Apparently Giambi is telling friends that he will sign with the A’s, however the A’s are said to have other priorities. Giambi has also made it clear he wants to play on the west coast, but if the A’s fall through, there might not be another option. So the Rays best hope may be that Giambi signs a one year deal with the Rays and looks for another west coast team in 2010…8%

Chances Delmon Young is playing for the Rays in 2009?

Despite one report that the Rays would “never” take Young back, there are indications that they are at least exploring the possibility. Still, we doubt Young is near the top of their wish list…4%

Chances Garret Anderson is playing for the Rays in 2009?

Joe Maddon had some nice words for his former player, which some took as an indication that there might be a match between team and free agent. But what was Maddon supposed to say? Anderson seems like a long shot, at best…2%

Chances both Andy Sonnanstine and Edwin Jackson will be on the roster when pitchers and catchers report?

There are just too many rumors running around and it is still December…1%

Chances Rays move to Las Vegas?

There are too many better options (San Antonio, Charlotte, New Orleans, Orlando) to consider before risking a move to Vegas…0.5%

Andrew Friedman recently made it clear that David Price is not guaranteed a spot in the starting rotation…What is the over/under on his 2009 debut?

This depends greatly on whether the Rays trade Andy Sonnanstine or Edwin Jackson prior to opening day. If one is moved, is there another legitimate option for the 5th spot in the rotation? Jeff Niemann? Jason Hammel? Not likely…GAME 4

NINTH INNING (Putting out the fire)…
Has Chad Orvella played his last game in a Rays uniform?

We are more curious as to whether or not Orvella received a playoff share despite spending the entire season on the DL. If so, that might have been one of the most lucrative injuries in the history of baseball. No way Orvella makes the major league roster this season, which means he would have made less than $100K in the minors. But with the injury occurring in the spring, the Rays kept him on the major league DL, and we assume he was paid the major league minimum ($400K). Add to that a possible dip into the playoff bonus pot and the shoulder injury might have made Orvella an extra $400K or so. What was the question?…YES

Has Rocco Baldelli played his last game in a Rays uniform?

Buster Olney said he would be “shocked” if Rocco did not sign with the Red Sox. This is the problem with the Rays “wait and see” approach. Fewer options…YES

The Bucs got spanked last night…Thoughts?

What? Oh sorry, we were distracted by the site of another Panthers running back dancing in the end zone. And on the other side of the ball, Bea Arthur scores more often than the Bucs offense in the Red Zone. …WE DON’T NEED THIS STRESS



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