This weekend, Joe Maddon essentially benched Pat Burrell, saying Willy Aybar will be the DH versus lefties and against some righties. That leaves the Rays without a left-handed bat on the bench (the backup catcher is usually unavailable to pinch-hit in case the starter gets injured).

Buster Olney recognized this and believes the Rays will look to trade for a left-handed bat

They could use a right-handed reliever and a left-handed DH-type. The left-handed hitter might well come from outside the organization, and undoubtedly, there will be an opportunity that will present itself during the year; as one GM mentioned Friday, Berkman would be an exceptional fit as a DH if the Astros ever decided to move him and the money could be worked out.

Certainly Berkman would be a welcome addition to the Rays lineup. But would the Rays be willing to pay the price? Even if the Astros picked up most of his remaining 2010 salary ($14.5 million), there is still the $2 million buyout on his 2011 option of $15 million. That might be more than the Rays want to pay for a player that would essentially be a part-time DH.

And will the Rays part with a prospect and add to the payroll when they have left-handed options in the minor leagues?

Hank Blalock seems like an ideal candidate. He has played third base and is hitting a solid .375/.440/.523 for Durham. In addition, there is the impending return of Matt Joyce who could be available as early as June. And there is Cuban defector Leslie Anderson, who will begin play with Charlotte today and could be available as a September call-up.

If the Rays call-up Blalock or Joyce, the Rays could finally cut Burrell loose. Or they could keep him and send Sean Rodriguez to the minors for regular playing time.

No matter which path the Rays choose, we do know that the Rays will have to make a move. Having a bench of nothing but right-handed bats, takes away one of the Rays better traits, flexibility.

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13 Comments

  1. Don says:

    Probably the wrong day to talk about Rays "hitters"...but basically the Rays have too many .200 hitters in the line up...I don't care what their record is.... if only 4 players are carrying the load....it can not last!
    They have to get more players making contact..and not striking out most of the time...can you tell me where the improvement has been with the new hitting "instructor"....Pena, Upton, Burrell, Navarro and others are the same as 2009!

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    • Brian H says:

      don, you still think burrell wont get cut if he continues this way? what are you gunna owe me. i put up a pair of tickets on the line for a game.

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      • Don says:

        "cut" meaning an out right release....NO WAY....give him away and pick up some/most of his contract...most likely!
        Aybar should have been playing at DH since mid 2009! Better late than never!

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        • Brian H says:

          your whole reason that they wouldnt cut him was that they the front office has too much pride admit that pat burrell was a mistake. if they eat his contract isnt that admitting a mistake? of course if they can get something or anything they will take it. if a team offered a gift certificate to bed bath and beyond i am pretty sure they would take it.

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          • Don says:

            If they took a gift certicifate.... that would be compensation for his (wonderful) services!

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  2. I wonder why Buster didn't mention Blalock. I can assume 1 of 2 things: Either his sources don't consider Blalock a "person of interest" or his Blalock isn't on his sources radar. If the latter is the case, that bodes real well for the Rays. I've said since the beginning of the season that Blalock and Hellboy are the Rays version of mid-season moves. They can't buy players, but they can bring them up from Durham.

    As for Pat the Bat, I expect the Rays are going to keep him around as long as the roster allows.

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    • Alex says:

      I'm pretty sure he talked about Blalock in another piece on ESPN.com or another writer did.

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  3. Alex says:

    And why exactly are we concerned with trading for a lefty bat when we just got perfect gamed again for the second time in two years by a LEFTY? Not only that but CC almost no hit us earlier this year.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      If you look at the Rays numbers against lefties this year they aren't that bad. About average across the board, even after yesterday and after almost being no-hit by Sabathia. Of course, average teams don't go to the playoffs. But still, not that bad.

      And JoeMa's mind he has already improved the lineup versus lefties by benching Burrell.

      But, if you want to add a right-handed replacement for Burrell and move Aybar back to the bench, I have no problem with that. But if JoeMa and Friedman think Aybar can do the job, then the biggest need is a left-handed bat for the bench.

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      • Beth says:

        Doesn't the Rays performance against lefties (yes, on average OK, but that's because you average in a few blow-outs along the way) undermine the assumption that right handed batters have an advantage against lefty pitchers? The only regular Ray who bats left is Crawford. So why do all these right handed batters struggle so? I've always been mystified by the Rays' issues with lefties, given who is in their starting line up.

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