We are still not back from our self-imposed exile in the sunshine state, so the regular posts will not return until tomorrow, but in the meantime, we heard some rumors that Andrew Friedman may have made a move or two this weekend to improve the Rays relief corps. We have reviewed the wires and consulted our abacus, and this was the final count…

Ty Wigginton traded to Astros for Dan Wheeler
[Devil Rays]
In the biggest move from the weekend, Ty Wigginton was sent to the Astros for reliever Dan Wheeler, who will begin his second stint with the Rays after being a Rays a draft pick in 1996. Wheeler has struggled this year with a 5.07 ERA, but being reunited with his former pitching coach Jim Hickey may reignite the pitcher that posted strong numbers as a setup man the past two seasons.

If the Rays decide to move Al Reyes, Wheeler would conceivably step into the closers role and could fill the same capacity in 2008. The one drawback to the trade is that Wheeler is a free agent after the 2008 season. However, seeing the current value of relief pitchers in the trade deadline market, Andrew Friedman may already be looking at Wheeler as a commodity that would be sought after in July of next year. If Wheeler can rebound in the next 12 months and flourish in either a setup or a closer’s role, he could demand additional pieces that are missing from the Rays puzzle.

Seth McClung traded to the Brewers [Devil Rays]
Has anybody else noticed the irony the in the Devil Rays acquiring a relief pitcher with the name “Bal-four”? Seriously, there is no way this can end well. The enigma enema that is Seth McClung, the big red-headed right hander with a power fastball and an inability to throw it anywhere near the strikezone in crucial situations was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for relief pitcher Grant Balfour.

Balfour, an Australian (we thought they only played Australian rules football?), played parts of three seasons with the Minnesota Twins, before getting a cup-of-coffee this year with the Brewers. He is mostly a journeyman right-hander that may eat innings in middle relief. He posted impressive numbers at AAA this season with 47 strikeouts and only 11 walks and 17 hits in 32 innings. He had a 1.69 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP. At 29, we will have to wait and see if the AAA numbers were an anomaly and he is just a AAAA pitcher or if he has turned the corner can can be an effective big league reliever.

The Brewers were forced to part with Balfour, who was out of Minor League options, because they needed roster space Friday for reliever Scott Linebrink, whom they acquired in a trade with San Diego on Wednesday…”He was a guy I was thinking about counting on for next year,” said Brewers general manager Doug Melvin. “You look at other teams’ bullpens, and that’s the kind of arm that teams get and, all of a sudden, they find it. It clicks.”

Jorge Cantu traded to the Reds [Devil Rays]
And in a move that only surprised us because a team actually gave up a little value, Jorge Cantu was shipped to the Reds for two pitchers and a player-to-be-named-later. Calvin Medlock is a minor league pitcher who dominated at AA but who has struggled in first 13 appearances at AAA. Brian Shackleford has spent parts of each of the last two seasons with the Reds, but is best known for THIS. Maybe the Rays picked him up to mentor Elijah Dukes. The Rays also sent minor leaguer Shaun Cumberland to the Reds to complete the trade. Cumberland is an outfielder with speed, who has struggled this season in his first year above A-ball.

Cantu was not happy being with the Devil Rays any longer, and with limited defensive skills (re: cement feet), and questionable offensive skills (.544 OPS in 2006, .484 OPS in 2007), he no longer had a future with the Rays. The Reds will ship Cantu to AAA and hope they catch lightning in a bottle. In return the Rays received yet another upgrade

Shawn Bleepin’ Camp demoted to the minors [Devil Rays]
This move was so obvious that we were actually surprised when we heard that Shawn Bleepin’ Camp was sent to Durham. We do wonder though who Andrew Friedman has been watching the first 3 months of the season.

Camp is a guy who’s obviously been struggling some recently. When his sinker’s really working, he can help out a major-league bullpen by getting groundballs and he’s extremely effective against right-handed hitters. He’s been in a little bit of a rut lately and we’re hoping that by sending him down and giving him a chance to pitch in Durham that he’ll start pitching a little bit more consistently.[TBO]

Recently? The guy has a 7.20 ERA. He has allowed 6,324 inherited runners to score. HE HAS STRUGGLED ALL FREACKIN’ SEASON. And he is 31, so he is not going to get much better.

Josh Paul activated from DL
[Devil Rays]
Josh Paul as on the DL since May 20. Paul replaces Raul Casanova who was designated for assignment and removed from the 40-man roster. The team has 10 days to trade, release or ask waivers for Casanova. Most likely Casanova will not be traded and he will clear waivers and be optioned back to AAA Durham. Joe Maddon stated that Paul will see increased playing time with starting catcher Dioner Navarro continuing to struggle at the plate.

Rays manager Joe Maddon has noted time and again that he thought Paul was playing at a high level when he got injured, and he now plans to play him three to four times a week rather than the normal one or two times a week reserved for most backup catchers.

In additional catcher news, Shawn Riggans had surgery on his elbow. The surgery is likely to be season-ending.


1 Comment

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