Earlier today, Rays Senior VP of Baseball Operations Gerry Hunsicker appeared with “The B-Team” on Sirius Satellite Radio. Most of it is the usual Rays talking points, but here are a few telling quotes…

On whether the Rays are buyers or sellers this year: This is a year of ramped speculation. There are lots of discussions going on daily. Certainly we are buyers. We are well positioned if something presents itself to Improve the club.

On whether or not he is resigned to idea of losing Carl Crawford to free agency: In our world, when we have talented players, there is going to come a day when we can’t keep those players. And it’s not just Crawford, it is our closer Soriano and our first baseman Pena.

On whether he now just accepts BJ Upton for what he is: In all the years I have been in the game, he is one of the players that is most difficult to figure out…His development was short-circuited by an early promotion…He is still trying to find himself. And we have a lot if confidence that he will settle in and become the player we expect he can be.

On why the offense has struggled recently: Early in the season we were more dependent than we would like on the home run…If our club is going to keep rolling we need our guys to step up.

 
 

11 Comments

  1. Eric S says:

    People definitely forget about Soriano when they talk about upcoming free agents for the Rays. There is a great chance he leaves as well. There is no way the Rays can afford Crawford. That’s just the way it is. Luckily the Rays do have a capable replacement in Desmond Jennings waiting in the wings. It gets trickier with the Soriano replacement. Would it be Balfour? I have some concerns about that because he can get a bit excitable out there. They have to figure that out before next season or might be there be a chance Soriano comes back? It sounds like the Rays are resigned to the fact he isn’t coming back. They could be in worse shape at 1B if Pena leaves. I guess you could put Zobrist there. The D goes down for sure, but Zobrist is a much better overall hitter than Pena. Pena has Boras as his agent, so he is going to want to squeeze the team that gets him for every dollar he can. I have my doubts on whether he returns.

    • pudieron89 says:

      Balfour is gone for sure, along with Wheeler. If we sign any of our departing FAs, it should be Benoit for 2011 closer. We have immense pitching depth in the minors to fill the spots of the departing Balfour, Wheeler, Soriano, Cormier (we could improve this one right now), etc.

      It’s more likely that Pena could be back, because despite the fact that if you ignore May he is still producing at an above-average level, his overall numbers aren’t as attractive which could be a blessing in disguise come this offseason. If not, 1B is not the most difficult position to fill and we could do it within the organization or by picking up a cheap FA who can hit for power. Although I don’t think anyone wants to see Pena go, because he is still hitting for power despite a “down” year and has that great clubhouse presence.

      • Matt says:

        I think everyone is forgetting Howell. He could definitely be the guy to close games next year. And then Mcgee could come up in two or three years and be the closer.

      • Carey says:

        This^^^^

        Definitely have to sign Benoit. Balfour for closer? He’s bounced back nicely this year, but I’m not willing to go there and I really hope the Rays aren’t either. Howell, too, is better suited for the set-up role over closer, and that’s provided we get the pre-injury Howell. With him, Benoit and perhaps some young additions, I think the bullpen will be okay, and might even surprise us.

        • Justin H says:

          Why not Jacob McGee? He has great stuff and there doesn’t seem like there is any room in the rotation, he could become a perfect closer. It’s tough to make him it next year obviously, but I could see him in that role soon.

  2. Beth says:

    One of the ironies of being a Rays fan this year: in order to win we need Crawford, Pena and Soriano to be awesome. If they are awesome, however, we can’t afford them next year.

    I thought his comments up Upton were interesting — I’m curious to hear why he thinks the current problems are the results of rushing him through the minors. He did come up pretty quickly, but how would another year at AAA have helped? Are there specific skills he could have better mastered?

    • Cork Gaines says:

      He did elaborate on Upton but not with any specific details. Just that he was brought up too young and was in the majors when other players his age were still developing.

      The feeling I’m sure is that there are certain things a player can do during minor league games they can’t do at the big league level. Take pitchers. In the minors they might throw a lit more changeups in a game because they are working on it. But some of those times might not be good for the sake of winning a game.

    • Gus says:

      He’s dead right that getting rushed didn’t help BJ’s work ethic; things came too easy and without having to produce. He failed upward defensively, and with so much focus on his defense, I think the holes in his swing were perhaps not focused on how they should have been.

      Either that, or he has a chronic shoulder issue that makes him washed up at 26.

      Kudos for the candor of Hunsicker, the unsung hero of this whole thing.

  3. Neal says:

    I would think the best replacement for Soriano next year would be Benoit. We shall see.

  4. Joe D. says:

    Blah, a bunch nothing comments from him… I’m not sure that the Rays haven’t admited that Upton was rushed in the past, I mean he came up and wasn’t able to play defense any where effectively. I just don’t understand with Upton ’07 he was a .300 hitter, ’08 hampered by the shoulder, but in the playoffs was a one man wrecking crew, and then had surgery, so I can maybe even give him a mulligan for last year, but this year, it just seems to be an approach issue, like he’s sitting off-speed every AB. and is fooled by the fastball, I could accept seeing him miss a slider, more so than take a fastball…

  5. John S says:

    Upton did not want to be in the minors.

    Does everyone forget the Holy Trinity of Young, Dukes and Upton all stating that they are wasting time in triple AAA and that they should be in the majors.

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