Just the links today as I attempt to recover from Mancation.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • JP Howell will miss the first month of the regular season with weakness in his left shoulder. [St. Pete Times]
  • Marc Topkin looks at what JP Howell’s injury means for the bullpen. [St. Pete Times]
  • The injury to JP Howell could mean that the Rays will keep both Andy Sonnanstine and Wade Davis on the opening day roster. [St. Pete Times]
  • Dioner Navarro was carted off the field Saturday after a collision at home. X-Rays were negative with the only damage a bruised nerve. He is not expected to miss any of the regular season. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Recent signee Leslie Anderson, from Cuba, is currently in Mexico and trying to resolve issues that will allow him into the US to attend spring training. [St. Pete Times]
  • Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes about BJ Upton‘s breakout potential and how he could be the difference-maker for the Rays this season. [New York Times]
  • Evan Longoria’s star continues to rise. He recently filmed a commercial for “New Era” that will be aired during games on opening day. [Fanhouse]
  • Wade Davis says he had a “little bit of a dead arm,” during yesterday’s terrible performance. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
  • Roger Mooney has 5 questions for Matt Joyce. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Joe Smith writes about former #1 overall pick Matt Bush who is attempting to restart his career with the Rays. He hasn’t had a drink in 9 months and currently resides in a Clearwater treatment center. [St. Pete Times]
  • Rays Prospects asked Rays bloggers who they thought was the most overrated prospect in the system. [Rays Prospects]
  • Rays Prospects asked Rays bloggers who they thought would have a breakout season from the lower levels. [Rays Prospects]
  • Joe Maddon says Justin Ruggiano is a big league outfielder, and he is trying to prove that this spring. [MLB]
  • Bill Madden of the Daily News previews the Rays. [NY Daily News]
  • Per a press release, Cal Ripken Jr will attend the home opener for the Charlotte Stone Crabs.
http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/tampa-bay-rays-matt-bush-climbing-back-from-the-bottom/1081400

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16 Comments

  1. Rudy Gamble says:

    Hey Professor -
    Any thoughts on how the playing time will break out at DH with Blalock and Burrell? Do you think they’ll platoon or is Burrell the starter and Blalock is a sub?

    I’m going to assume Burrell’s couple of games in the OF during the spring are a decoy as his bad fielding is almost as legendary as his off-the-field success (he ain’t called Pat the Bat for his hitting…)

    Thanks!
    Rudy

    • This is a tough one. So far nobody on the Rays are even saying Blalock has much of a shot at making the team. In fact they aresaying just the opposite.

      Also complicating matter is his contract. Friedman called his opt-out “convoluted,” and added that if Blalock has an opportunity elsewhere they won’t stand in the way. That leads me to believe that they are more than happy to send him to Durham as insurance unless he can prove another team will give him a big league job.

      But, if he does make the team my guess is that he will platoon at DH but it wouldn’t be your standard righty-lefty platoon. More likely you would see Maddon play matchups everyday and Burrell would face a lot of righties.

      My guess is between DH and 1B Blalock sees 50-70 starts if he is on the team.

  2. Professor,
    Don’t you see Blalock maybe having the same impact Eric Hinske had a few years ago… vauable bat plus dual 1B and 3B back-up duty. I know that spot is Aybar’s to lose, but I am not convinved he is 100 % yet.
    Plus Maddon beams about him as a clubhouse guy just like Hinske…
    He might not be a gimme, but if Gabe Kapler is not fit by April 1st….could be a nice short term addtion, plua give Blalock some MLB at bats to show people he is back….just a thought.

  3. Alex says:

    This will never happen but….
    When is it time for the Rays to just bite the bullet on Burrell? He hasn’t done a thing this spring and Blalock has come in swinging a hot bat. Keeping Blalock over Fat gives the team versatility and more ab’s for the other bench guys. If we cut/trade Blalock for nothing he’s probably going to be another Adam Kennedy. While we get stuck with a fat good for nothing Burrell.

    I had a big write out ready for this but I didn’t put my email in so I lost it.

  4. Brian H says:

    I think you are exactly right. Blalock is a being signed to be playing for durham. If he goes to durham than and only than will they pursue the option of releasing burrell, they first want to see whether burrel can live up to his contract. Its a very smart move.

  5. Gus says:

    There are at least 5 or 6 guys who have out-performed Burrell and deserve at bats over him — the super utility guys not playing 2b/RF (S-Rod or Brignanc), Joyce, Ruggiano, Blaylock.

    The tough love of ditching Dukes and Delmon set the stage for 2008′s run. A little tough love with Burrell is what they need to do here.

  6. Beth says:

    I’m too worried about JP Howell to think about the Burrell/Blalock issue. I think JP’s absence leaves a big gap, and I always worry in particular about hard to pin down and explain injuries like “shoulder weakness” — it sounds like the sort of thing for which there’s no obvious fix. And how the heck to you come to spring training with a weak shoulder? Has JP been practicing shot putting in his off season, or what?

  7. Alex says:

    This is probably something that started during the World Baseball Classic and has been building with JP’s overuse every year.

    • Beth says:

      On what are you basing the “overuse” claim? Are Howell’s innings really that far above what is typical for relievers?

      • The overuse claim comes from the fact that the Rays shut him down last year. Then, they kept him shut down to begin the season. Something smells here…

        However, the problem still remains that the Rays need JP Howell in the late innings for match-up. Nobody on the current 40-man can do what the Rays were expecting of Howell this year. I really don’t think the Rays are going to be able to pick up anyone this late, so we’ll be stuck with Cormier/Wheeler/Balfour/Choate setting up Soriano.

      • J P Howell actually has tossed 156 innings for the Rays over the last two seasons. Dan Wheeler comes in second with 124 innings.
        And that is not including his WBC innings or multiple warm-ups in 2009.
        The “Dude” was just dead tired by September.

        • Rich says:

          Your observation about “multiple warm-ups in 2009″ hit upon something that really bothered me last year. It seemed that we changed pitchers way too often in the late innings, and is one of the more significant reasons why the ‘wheels fell off’ the last weeks of the 2009 season.

          I am all about getting the best possible match-ups at the plate but I felt that that there were WAY too many situations where a pitcher would come in to face 1-2 batters and be pulled. Meanwhile there was always somebody else getting ready to come in with 1-2 minutes notice.

          This is one area where Madden (who is all about playing the statistical probabilities) may have over-thought things…..

          • Rich,
            I am glad someone else picked on that subtle hint.
            Pitching to Contact aka the Hickey Hubbaballo did ruin the sequencing and the rhythm last season.
            Hopefully it is a “lesson learned”.

  8. Alex says:

    Your kidding right?

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