Joe Maddon stated today that Hank Blalock will be in the lineup today and tomorrow. It sounds like the team will not make an announcement regarding Blalock’s future until tomorrow. However, quotes from Maddon suggest a decision has already been made…

We pretty much know what we’ve got going on on the field right now. There’s still some conversations that need to be had. I promise as soon as I can I’ll give it to you, but we have a pretty good idea what we want to do.

So have the Rays decided on Reid Brignac for the final spot over Blalock? Here is another quote from JoeMa…

“With Hank, I don’t know him a long time, but like I said before, he likes straightforwardness, bluntness, transparency, whatever you want to call it. So he and I had a really open conversation and it was very good, very informative. I like him.”

Maddon also added that the team “will continue to work on that,” when asked about Blalock’s status.

This suggests that the Rays have decided on Brignac for the final spot and that they are currently negotiating with Blalock to accept a minor league assignment. Blalock stated yesterday that he would not accept a minor league assignment and would instead opt-out of his contract to become a free agent.

Our guess would be that the Rays are asking for Blalock to extend his deadline by a few weeks or a month. This would give the Rays the best of both worlds. They can keep Brignac on the big league roster as a better defensive option for the second base platoon and keep Blalock in reserve should the need for a left-handed bat arise.

 
 

11 Comments

  1. Two things at work here:

    1. The Rays would love to keep Hank Blalock around for flexibility in moving Carlos Pena and/or Pat Burrell

    2. The Rays haven’t forgotten the failed Adam Kennedy experiement. They traded him for Joe Dillon right before the season. As much as I love the Dillionaire, the Rays really could’ve used Kennedy when Aki got hurt. Plus, Kennedy seemed to kill the Rays every chance he got last year.

  2. stunna says:

    If we could trade Burrell for a pack of cheap beer or a sandwich or something, none of this would even be an issue. I’d rather have Blalock OR Brignac over Burrell, hands down.

  3. Joe D. says:

    The Rays need Blalock, this is a world series caliber team, and it’s a guy like Blalock that WS Championship teams have, a legit starter coming off the bench.

  4. Michael says:

    But doesn’t Blalock have to know that he most likely has a better shot at a roster spot and seeing at-bats on Opening Day then he will in a month? By the end of April (barring another injury to someone currently on the roster) he will also have Joyce, Aybar, and possibly even Ruggiano staking claim to that roster spot. It won’t just be between Brignac and Blalock at that point.

    That is, unless the Rays want to give Pat Burrell two to four weeks to show he can bounce back from his awful 2009 before cutting him outright in favor of Blalock as the full-time DH for the remainder of the season. I wonder if they’d even go so far as to let Blalock know that’s there plan if it was the case?

    • I think you hit on most of it. Let’s see what Burrell can do for a month. Let’s see if somebody gets hurt. Let’s see how Joyce does (who wasn’t exactly a lock for the roster before his injury). And worst case scenario for Blalock is he gets another 20+ games to audition whether it is for the Rays or somebody else.

  5. Joe D. says:

    Prof, I see Burrell played RF again today, seems that he’s played a lot of OF this spring as compared to last year. Any chance this is an indicator of either… A) the Rays are thinking of giving him more OF reps this season, or B) they are, trying to showcase him as trade bait. Or is this simply to get him at bats…

    • I would say definitely B and C. Also Joyce’s injury along with desire ringer Zobrist lots of reps at 2B opened up an opportunity for Burrell in the outfield. But I am a little worried about A being possible.

      The thing that really worries me is that Burrell said he had a tough time adjusting to DH role last year and the down time between at bats. I don’t see how playing a lot of OF this spring is prepping him for that role this year?

      Of course the alternative might be that Maddon thinks playing the OF will help get his bat warmed up quicker (by playing a familiar role) so that when he is DHing, his swing is already in mid-season form.

  6. Joe D. says:

    Yes, option A scares me as well, I have flash backs of seeing Hinske & Gomes out of breath in RF after back to back fly balls to right, but it makes me wonder with it being 5 days ‘ til opening day…

    • Mike says:

      Sure Gomes may not have been the most graceful athlete of all time, but the man played the game in the right way! I love Gomes and well.. I hate Pat the Fat. I hope Pat strains his neck again.

  7. Joe D. says:

    I loved Gomes, Hinske too. Last year when every one loved the Burrell signing, i made comments on here first guessing the signing. I felt given the same number of at bats Gomes would have put up comparable numbers, at least power wise, not OBP, and I wondered if money spent on Burrell,over what a guy like Gomes would have cost was worth it… most seemed to think it was… but I think now everyone wants to trash Burrell, and I really think he should have a bounce back year… but attitude wise Blalock has been pi$$ poor, and has had crappy #’s to boot… he really hasn’t much ground to stand on when he says he’s not taking a minor league deal, he may have to he might not have any ML offers available, especially on a contending team.

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