Monday, December 15

Keeping track of the Rays...

With most of the baseball media covering the Red Sox and Yankees within the AL East, ITM figured it was a good time to take a quick look at what the defending AL-Champion Rays have been up to.

As a result of their low payroll and young nucleus of players, the Rays have had a relatively quiet off season.....and this is expected to continue. There are however, a few small moves that could make a difference come April of 2009.

-First and foremost, the 2009 Rays will look a lot like the 2008 Rays, the only free agents on the team are the bulldozer Eric Hinske and Rocco Baledelli (who may get hurt just by reading this article). There have been rumors that the Rhode Island native Baldelli could be coming to Boston to fill the role of a 4th outfielder, but that rumor has lost its momentum over the last few weeks. I can't say I'm too mad about that either....I know I would go out, buy a Baldelli jersey T-shirt and scream "ROCCOOOOO" at my tv for the first few weeks of the season, and then want to burn it after he somehow manages to pull his hamstring while playing volleyball in Cumberland, RI and miss the final 5 months of the season (see my JD Drew jersey T-shirt story).......Cliff Flyod and Trever Miller did not have their club options picked up by the team and are therefore also free agents.

-Perhaps the most important move for the Rays was trading Edwin Jackson to Detroit for Matt Joyce. Joyce is a young outfielder with some pop who could settle in nicely with a young team. It can be assumed that Jackson was moved in order to make room in the rotation for the 23 year old phenom David Price.

-Coco Crisp's buddy and life long friend Jonny Johnson Gomes (seriously, that's his full name, nice parents huh?) won't be back with the Rays. Tampa decided to not tender him an offer and make him a free agent. ITM is praying he lands with the Royals just to see what happens.

-Without much money to spend on the free agent market, the Rays are also likely to spend much of the off season focusing on their farm teams. Ensuring there is a steady growth and pipeline of talent within the organization will be critical to long term success in Tampa.

All that said, with a few small tweaks and another year under their young belts, the Rays could possibly be an even better team in 2009 than in 2008.....but with the Yankees having more spending more money than God, and the possibility of the Sox bringing Mark Teixeira to Boston, they might have to be.

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