Two potential relievers for the Rays signed with the A’s over the weekend. First it was Grant Balfour signing a deal that is reportedly a two-year contract for $8.1 million. Then the A’s signed Brian Fuentes to a two-year deal for $10.5 million.

The Rays came into the off-season needing to completely overhaul their bullpen. And while they have been able to fill in those pieces in the past with cheap one-year deals, the free agency market threw Andrew Friedman a sucker-punch. All the decent relievers are getting multi-year deals, and the Rays just don’t want to go down that road.

The one potential closer still out there is Jon Rauch. Roger Mooney wonders if the Rays should go after the 6’11″ right-hander. [Rays Report]

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • I’m sure this will cause Eric Hahman to throw a hissy fit (again), so I apologize for tooting my own horn but…my story from Friday about the Yankees paying their bullpen more than the Rays entire roster got referenced on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” on Friday. And well, I think that is pretty damn cool. *steps down from the soap box, raises arms and slowly backs away*
  • Kwang Min Park spoke with recently-acquired Hak-Ju Lee, who wants to be in the big leagues by June…Let’s keep in mind that Lee just turned 20 and has never played above single-A. So pardon us if we are skeptical. [Twitter]
  • Looks like the Yankees are going to land Andruw Jones. The Rays had shown interest, but all indications are that they are targeting Vladimir Guerrero with Manny Ramirez as plan B. [MLB Trade Rumors]
  • David Grotz points out that the signing of Rafael Soriano doesn’t cure the Yankees biggest problem, their starting rotation. [NESN]
  • Jeremy Hellickson was honored by his high school in Des Moines, Iowa on Friday during “Jeremy Hellickson Appreciation Night.” [Des Moines Register]
  • Is Josh Freeman really as good as this past season suggested? [JoeBucsFan]
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5 Comments

  1. Tone says:

    The bullpen is scary. I don't think we get Vlad; either the Angels or Texas will get him. My gut tells me they ride out this year with some scrap heap players. I just don't think they are really trying to put together a solid contender this season. The Farnsworth signing is still beyond my understanding; why not just use kids or some minor league invite? Use the money for signing draft picks or buying Stu Jr his 3rd Bentley, anything is better than Farnsworth. I hope my pessimism is wrong, but they just are not making any sense this offseason. Rauch will probably get signed elsewhere too, Twins will get him again. Looks to be a long season, I bet it is barely .500, or worse.

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  2. MJ says:

    "the free agency market threw Andrew Friedman a sucker-punch."

    ...it sure looks that way. Surprised Friedman didn't see this multi-year wave coming, and if he did, surprised they didn't sign Balfour to a similar deal. Perhaps this really is a rebuilding year. It's hard to say until we see who our DH and closer will be.

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  3. scmac says:

    The bullpen and lineup are a disaster! If they fail to pull in Rauch the only closer type left in free agency I fear who might be asked to close. And without Vlad or Manny the lineup could be incredibly bad. Take away Longoria and i dont think anyone on this time hit higher than .260 last year. I saw a quote in the paper over the weekend that was something to the effect that Longoria may not see another fastball until 2014. So true with this lineup. Its hard not to be pessimistic. I know a lot of people go on about potential of Joyce, Jaso, Brignac and that BJ, Zobrist will return to form from a few years ago. But thats a lot of BIG IFs! In order for this team to be anywhere near a top team this year its going to require A LOT of innings from every starter (including Shields).

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    • Charles says:

      I could be crazy, but I still think Pena's production can be matched by Dan Johnson. Last season, Johnson had about 25% of Pena's plate appearances. If you keep Johnson's stats at the same rate and project him for the same number of PAs as Pena, here's what you got:

      Pena: .732 OPS, 28 HR, 84 RBI, 102 OPS+
      DJ: .757 OPS, 28 HR, 92 RBI, 115 OPS+

      Obviously this is not exact science, but Johnson is also far less strikeout prone. For his career, he has almost as many walks as strikeouts. Pena has about twice as many strikeouts as walk for his career. It's no given that Johnson can match Pena's production, but it seems pretty possible.

      So if we go with that, whoever is brought in is not replacing Pena, they're replacing the combo of Pat Burrell, Hank Blaylock & Willy Aybar (Dan Johnson actually had more games at DH than Aybar, but since he's the new Pena in this scenario, I skipped down). Aybar is in most likely - he provided 6 homers and 43 RBI in basically half a season's worth of at bats. Find him a platoon partner who can hit 15 homers and drive in 60-70 runs and you've got the most productive DH we've had here in years. It doesn't take Vlad or Manny to get that much. What about Jermaine Dye? He sat out last year, maybe he's cheaper now? In 2009, he played 140+ games and hit 27 homers. Guys like Lyle Overbay, Bill Hall, Kurt Suzuki all put up numbers in the range of "Willy Aybar Platoon Partner" territory, and nobody would mistake them for monsters or All-Stars.

      I guess my point in this whole long thing is that I think offense will be tough, but it was tough last year too. I don't think it will be a complete disaster like a lot of people think because I don't think it's all that hard to match last season's level.

      I will say that a lot hinges on Jennings, Joyce, etc. If outfield offense becomes a complete black hole, that does get to be a problem.

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      • scmac says:

        Pena if nothing else generated a small amount of respect from AL pitching. Johnson will get no respect and garner little protection for Longoria. And at least Crawford got on base ahead of longoria to give him some rbi opportunities. I agree with you a lot hangs on the performances of Jennings , Joyce, etc. but Jennings completely underwhelmed in his brief appearance last year. he looks no where near ready to take Crawfords place. last year we knew what we would get from longoria, crawford and that Pena would have 30 home runs (knowing all his other numbers would be horrible). perhaps johnson can match Pena's numbers but there are no sure things on this team. i would bet even Longos numbers will suffer greatly with this offense.

        its great to stockpile all these great prospects but eventually you need SOMEONE to play on the major league level. if they thought attendence was bad last year just wait until they are in 4th place with 75-80 wins. stu will drop the payroll to 25mil in 2012.

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