Despite an earlier report that the Rays and Bobby Jenks were close to a deal last night, Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rays are just one team in on the closer. Rosenthal says there is “heavy action” on Jenks (which almost never a good sign for the Rays) and that the Yankees “and others” are also interested.

Despite a 4.44 ERA in 2010, Jenks was actually a very good closer. His 2.59 FIP suggests he was just the victim of some bad luck or some really bad defense.

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Don Zimmer had a pacemaker installed. [The Heater]
  • The Rays signed Jonah Bayliss to a minor league deal. Bayliss is a 30-year old right-handed reliever, who last saw action in the big leagues in 2007 with the Pirates.
  • The Jason Bartlett trade is still “better than 50-50″ to get done according to Jon Heyman. Jed Hoyer, the Padres GM adds that the two sides are working on “several different issues.” [MLB Trade Rumors]
  • The Marlins officially announced the signing of Randy Choate to a two-year deal. Choate was a Type B free agent, so the Rays will receive a compensation draft pick between the first and second-round of next year’s draft. [MLB Trade Rumors]
  • The Red Sox are having conversations with Dan Wheeler. [NESN]
  • Average age of the top four starting pitchers: Yankees 31.5; Red Sox 29; Rays 26.5. [Boston Herald]
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34 Comments

  1. Tone says:

    I do not get the approach this off-season. Matsui was signed for under 5 million; he would be SO much better than what is left, and that is totally affordable. The relief market is completely inflated, but I think a closer is needed badly and Jenks seems like a perfect fit. Hopefully they can get it done. I don't like that both Cust and Matsui were missed, they both signed cheap. Could it be the waiting game is not working? Maybe they need to make some solid offers to guys they like, otherwise we will be stuck with the worst leftovers. The chances of another Pena or Benoit thing happening are slim.

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    • Greg says:

      There were suggestions on this site not too long ago that we may see the Rays really drop off in payroll and decide this isn't a good year to try and compete. I think John Romano and Cork both talked about the possibility. I'm wondering if that's what we're seeing based on losing Crawford/Soriano/Pena and the Red Sox gaining so much strength. I think we'll be talking about that more and more as we near Spring Training after seeing the Rays add very little firepower.

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      • Sledge says:

        I think Greg is right, especially if we end up trading a starting pitcher. Why spend $4M on Matsui when you could give Anderson a try and he is already committed? Accept your fate for 2011, let Jennings, Anderson, Joyce, Brignac, and Hellickson get a year working together in the bigs, and save your money for more help in 2012.

        That is not what the fans want to hear. It also won't sell tickets next year. But do you think low ticket sales in 2011 bothers them?

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        • Gus says:

          Ownership acts (to ESPN and the local press) like it bothers them. And there is a critical business point at work here. Season tickets are a long-term committment where you build fanbase. If you go from terrible to good and back to terrible, there is no incentive for fans to build your plans around the Rays. They need to give the fans some hope for 2011 (even if they have an eye on 2012); at some point, David Price is out of here with the rest of the starters and they are in worse shape than ever. They need to commit to win. They had the 24th highest payroll and drew 23rd in the league. This year they will be out of whack, with a payroll at 28th or so. This is criminal. If attendance sinks to 28th, they should know this is a two-way street, and to blame the stadium, the locaction or the market is an absolute crock. This franchise has never had ownership committed to winning in a way that will develop the season ticket-base. They bought the team on borrowed money and use $11M per year to pay off their own loans and then complain they aren't profitable. Yankee go home.

          It is one thing to skinny the budget. It is another to intentionally decimate your own franchise. This looks like the latter. Absent some flurry of bullpen activity, anybody who bought season tickets for this season is not going to get any value from that purchase. I'm glad I'm done spending my money that way; I'll watch from the bandwaggon with the rest of Rays nation.

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          • Sarah says:

            But Gus, even high payroll teams have their rebuilding years. If the only reason to buy season tickets is that your team is likely to make a run at the division, then who would ever buy season tickets anywhere other than NY, Boston, maybe Atlanta?

            I have my concerns about the long term plans of the ownership as well, which was fueled by Sternberg's complaining to the press about attendance while being interviewed at Yankee Stadium last season in the midst of a pennant race. Is this the behavior of an owner wanting to build support? BUT....they've given us two division champs after a decade of losing, and I'm willing to give them a rebuilding year if it can lead to further championships in the not too distant future. And frankly, the idea that there are wealthy and enlightened locals who could step in to run this team better is fantasy. So I don't join your "Yankee go home" sentiment at all.

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          • Joe says:

            Amen, Gus. I have harped on this way before your piece. And it is unfair, categorically or in any other way, to group payroll with attendance.

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          • Sledge says:

            Gus makes a number of good points. But I agree with Sarah. I'm not suggesting they are tanking on 2011. I'm suggesting their might be making a conscious decision to forgo spending their limited resources on a one year deal for a Matsui or the like in exchange for greater flexibility in 2012 and beyond. It is not realistic to think this team goes to the World Series in 2011, so get a competitive product on the field. That's called rebuilding with eye towards long term stability. Business season ticket holders (whom they most need) will understand that. And oh by the way, stress on 2011 gate ticket sales is a side benefit to their stadium arguments whether we like it or not.

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  2. Don says:

    Sounds like the Padres are trying to palm off damaged goods to the Rays...for one of the better SS around....
    Oh well...we unload payroll...while we "search" for a "SS prospect" that won't be as good as Bartlett or Brignac...
    So it is in..... "Rays World".....

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    • John says:

      JB? One of the better SS around? Don, you have truly outdone yourself.

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      • Don says:

        You can bet your ass...as good of a "clutcher" hitter as there is....a dependable glove...worked with 3or4 2nd basemans... and was Rays 3rd or 4th best position player for 3yrs...
        "One of the Best".....you heard it here!

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        • Scott says:

          Well, Don is technically correct.

          If you assume that across Little League, Babe Ruth, High School, College, the Minor Leagues, the Major Leagues, and in any other baseball-playing country in the world, there are tens of thousands of shortstops out there, Bartlett is technically one of the better/best shortstops simply by virtue of being in the Major Leagues. :)

          On the other hand, he's only the 3rd best shortstop on this team. But still, he is one of the best shortstops in the world when compared to the number of them out there.

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    • MJ says:

      is Bart a top 5 shortstop? No... but I think he is undervalued by the fans. He is a plus base runner, solid shortstop (i personally haven't bought into many defensive metrics out there), and doesn't have a hole in his swing like half of our old lineup. Not worth $5mil to the Rays, but much better than most of you give him credit for.

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  3. Joe says:

    This has been an UGLY offseason for the Tampa Bay Rays. Management has botched (may not have been their fault) the Jason Bartlett trade and has deliberately been priced out on the relief market.

    I completely agree that this is a horrible business decision because if you don't put any emphasis on 2011, then what fans will stick around in 2012 even if you do show more "commitment"? This has been a disaster, and it starts at the top, but then again, when haven't I said that before? The Yankees can be had with a mismash rotation after Sabathia and Hughes and the Rays aren't doing anything?! It is a disgrace!

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    • Indiana Rays Boy says:

      Way to Andrew "The Clown" Friedman. Botched the Bartlett trade not once BUT twice. Couldn't get Nolan Reimold for him and now he is having trouble with the Bartlett to San Diego trade. Now, letting Jenks go to the Red Sox, now the Rays are going to be stuck with nothing. Here fans, the Rays have signed Joel Peralta, Corey Wade and some guy name Jonah Bayliss. Don't insult our intelligence with guys like this. Now, they are stuck with Kelly Shoppach and No Game James....WOW!!!! Don't forget, they are looking for a DH and didn't bother to take a look at Hideki Matsui right in front of his nose. They are talking to Gary bleepin Sheffield. Why bother? I understand that they are shedding payroll but they keep bumbs that are dead weight like the Shoppach's and Shields of the world; they should go as well. Nice offseason by the Rays. UGH!!!!

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      • wes says:

        If baseball's system isn't broken i don't know what is. While we (the Rays) pick scraps off the refuse pile the rich get to pluck away half our team. Boston has a $10 million dollar closer, a top draft pick "closer in waiting" and they sign the second best closer available? A guy that would have been a coup for us, a guy that would have been able to top 40 saves for us signs to be a set-up man with boston? on top of that, the Yankees with Riviera closing and that over-hyped nebraskan and they're "thinking" about Soriano? What the hell is going on? How come we have to supply everybody else. How can we pay Longoria $25 a year like Mauer, Tulowitski or any of his peers? I can already see him manning the hot corner for the angels for the latter half of this decade! Oh yeah Boston also is trying to sign Wheeler. Come on MLB this sucks!!!!

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  4. Hal says:

    Why is everybody so glum and insisting this is a "rebuilding" year? Our starting pitching is intact and almost has to get better with Hellboy and did anybody pay attention to WD at the end of last year? Our bullpen is a mystery, but go look at the 08 bully and get back to me. Briggy at short everyday is an upgrade. SRod at 2nd everyday is an upgrade. Jaso behind the plate from day 1 is an upgrade. Losing Pena's .190 average and 1,000,000 strikeouts is an upgrade (please spare me the defense bullshit, anyone who really watches knows that his D the last couple of years was nowhere near '08). Losing Crawford kills, but perhaps BJ finally gets motivated to get paid like CC.

    And can someone tell me how the Yankees have improved?

    >94 wins

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    • Sarah says:

      Hal, I agree that with strong starting pitching this team will be competitive this coming year. But their bullpen will be decidedly weaker, and offensively they will be no better and perhaps somewhat worse - replacing Crawford with unproven Jennings. I like both S-rod and Briggy but neither looks on track to hit .300 or belt 20+ homers.

      So back to the earlier discussion of payroll -- last year the management clearly saw that 2010 would be a key year, and spent $7 million for one year of a closer. 2011, however, will not be the year we see these high-priced short term contracts.

      If the team surprises everyone and is competitive come July, they can always switch course and become buyers.

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      • Hal says:

        But did we get .300 or 20 from SS or second last year? And I don't know, but I think tht both could flirt with .280 and 20 if JoMa lets them play full time.

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        • Sarah says:

          No, we didn't get .300 from those positions last year, but we got it from LF. My point was, we've got no one to replace Crawford's hitting, and even WITH Crawford the Rays were a bit challenged offensively.

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          • Hal says:

            Which is sort of my point. We had a bus load of guys who had lost years; even Evan was really good, but not elite. He seems poised for a historic year and Srod and Briggy just seem ripe for really good years with regular time. Zobrist probably won't return to '09 numbers, but he has to improve on his '10 numbers. I actually am starting to like the bullpen for next year also.

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    • Boxauthor says:

      You know, Hal, I don't know about next year, but it's pretty hard to complain when over the last 3 years the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays have each missed the playoffs once. In that same 3 years the Rays beat the Yankees and Red Sox each once to win the division. Remember the AL East is the division that few question as the most difficult division in baseball. 2/3 AL East division titles is pretty impressive to me. I know we haven't won a World Series, but I think the FO has by now earned enough respect to at least give them the benefit of the doubt at this point. Looks like we did pick up a decent reliever:

      http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/12/rays-to-sign-joel-peralta.html

      Besides, we all seem to forget what happened the last time we went out and spent money on an impressive free agent. I was excited at the time about our picking up a power hitter. There's no money this year to get burned.

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    • Gus says:

      I looked at the 2008 bullpen and it gave me heartburn. Percy falling apart. Isringhausen not making it through spring training. Maddon pitching Howell's arm off. Balfour was a comet of competence. And Price helped out late. It worked to some extent, by accident.

      But they need to have some plan for the 2011 bullpen. They seem to have none if you listen to Maddon's quotes. I'm not against promoting young arms and using them down there. With a terrible bullpen like 2007, the Rays won't break .500 and they will waste a terriffic rotation. There was no reason management couldn't have made some $ committments to bullpen. To let an entire good bullpen be taken away is just madness. Nothing destroys the morale of a team and a fanbase more quickly than a bullpen setting fire to itself (the 2007 team was actually quite good through 6 innings -- I think the led 90 plus games through 6 innings).

      Going from $71M to whatever they end up at -- $42M or so -- is really not good faith ownership. I'm not saying they'll be a 90 win team every year -- but with this starting pitching and Longo, they could have been 90 wins with a bullpen in 2011 and build more fans to further finance their team. To miss that window to save $ is short-sighted and different, I think, from throwing in the towel in 2009 with the Kazmir trade. Here, the Rays get nothing back but draft picks that they won't sign all of anyway (or they'll draft cheap). The payoff is too far down the road and too iffy.

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    • Tom says:

      I agree Hal, obviously losing CC hurts, but the offense will most likely be improved at 1B and DH. It is also probable that Zobrist bounces back. Hopefully, they can cobble together a decent bullpen to go with the solid starting rotation.

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  5. Brandi says:

    Hi, I hope Y'All don't mind bloviating from a Newbie. :) When the major OddsMakers came out with their betting lines for WS Champ in '11, the Rays came out among the top handful of teams. Last year the same opening lines placed the Rays down in the middle of the pack. Last year in what was billed as "The Year to Go for it All". And I think the Oddsmakers have it right. If you look for a minute at our Opening Day starting lineup last year, we had Gabe Kapler, Kelly Shoppach, Pat Burrell all starting. Our "Ace" was James Shields. Jason was at SS with Zorilla at 2nd. (What I consider one of his weaker positions.) Carlos was at 1st.

    Fans spent most of the year wanting the team to send Carlos and his Sub-.200BA/150+K's away. There was no way of knowing if the '10 Bullpen was going be even as good as the poor '09 version. And nobody knew if Wade Davis was ready.

    IF (and yes, it's still an "IF") Andy Friedman can carve together a good Bullpen, is there anyone here who would really trade our '10 Opening Day team for the one we'll have in '11? We'll have an even better Starting Rotation next year, among the best in the League. Last year's Rookies who outperformed most of the Veterans on the Team will have a Season under their belts and Full-Time play. The success of the Rays next year is going to fall on the FO's success in re-building the Bullpen. There is obviously a push for "Power Bats". But I think that will actually be a step backwards. We already have enough power so long as everybody isn't standing around waiting for the 3-Run Homer to be the formulas for winning games. When this team took every opportunity to scratch out runs last year, they were a force. When they waited around for the Big Hit, they were lethargic and sloppy and really ugly to watch.

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    • Tone says:

      I would trade for our 10' opening day roster. They can just DFA Burrell again and we have one of the sickest bullpens ever. Also, we would have a Gold Glove 1st baseman that ensures our Gold Glove 3rd baseman gets another Gold Glove because he is the master of "scooping". You are smoking crack if you think most of the fans were bashing Pena, he added more value with defense,walks, and 20 plus homeruns than were are going to see this year. Cheap ass owners are selling this team short.

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  6. Joe says:

    This team has never bought at the deadline. It's just a philosophical approach. Right now, everything is too rich for them. Too bad.

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  7. Joe says:

    And now Jenks may be going to Boston?!

    My thing is this. If you want a guy, identify him and PAY him. You can't be averse to the price. It is what it is. You pay for the man, not the stats. Pay the price, accept it and move forward. If it works great, if not, its the price of doing business. You can't mitigate or control that risk. It is simply the way it is.

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  8. Hal says:

    Jake McGee closes, Sonny does mop up, peralta pitches the 7th, Niemann pitches the 8th, the Padre guys are in the mix along with the Rule 5 guy from Boston, and there has to be a reason that Matt Bush is on the 40 man, right?

    Niemann seems crazy, but he seemed electric out of the pen at the end of last year.

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    • phil says:

      sounds interesting but they need another experienced reliever the sox just signed Albers, miller and Jenks..no room for balfour ..coming back?

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    • MJ says:

      I say "hell no" to putting neimann in the pen. These guys are way too valuable as starters. Why does everyone forget Niemann was our best pitcher for a whole year starting middle of '09. I guess it would be better to store them in the pen than to trade one (perhaps at the deadline for a catcher?). It's hard to keep 6 quality SPs, but the Rays are doing everything they can to make it happen.

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      • Tone says:

        Than you. Nieman has been amazing as a starter. Why would you ruin that? How do you know he won't implode like Hellickson did? Nieman was bad after coming off of injury last year, but I blame the fact that he had no rehab starts to turn up. He looked good at the end of the year. We need to get bullpen arms, not waste good starters and lower their value.

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