Still trying to get back into the swing of things after the holidays. Here are a few (mostly) Rays-related items from around the web you may have missed.
Tyler Hissey has a long article at RaysDigest summarizing the Rays off-season moves: "Often times, general managers, in all sports, get complacent when their team achieves on-field success and reaches the playoffs. Many feel that if a championship-caliber team returns, they are poised for glory again. Not Friedman. He did not sit back on his laurels, using an outside-the-box approach to seemingly improve his roster. In a division with the sport’s two financial superpowers, that mindset is essential."
Project Prospect rates Evan Longoria #1 in their rankings of the Top 10 Third Basemen Under the age of 25.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods are offering an Internship Program: "The Hot Rods Internship Program is a great way for college level students to acquire credits and/or experience while learning the business side of Minor League Baseball. Our program provides a number of students with an overall learning experience to include such areas as Ticket Operations, Community Relations & Baseball Operations, Promotions, and General Office Management."
RaysIndex has updated their projections of the Rays 25-man roster and 40-man roster and payroll. One interesting note (of many): "A year ago, the Rays projected to have 7 million dollar players. That number has now more than doubled to 15."
The Charlotte Stone Crabs are offering The Hit & Run Club: "Where else can you enjoy a all-you-can-eat food and soft drinks for less than $3-a-night? Catch all the exciting baseball action and don't worry about making dinner for 70 nights during the summer!"
In more fallout from the Teixeira signing, the Yankees have waived our good friend Shelley Duncan: "Shelley Duncan, a key cog for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in their two years of existence, was waived by the parent club on Tuesday. The New York Yankees first baseman/corner outfielder was designated assignment, clearing room on their 40-man roster for new free agent signing Mark Teixeira."
Durham Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo will be a coach for Puerto Rico in this year's World Baseball Classic.
Ben Badler took a look at caught stealing percentages for minor league catchers at BaseballAmerica. Rays listed include Michael McCormick, Nevin Ashley, and John Jaso. On Jaso: "Although his offensive performance with Double-A Montgomery in 2007 was strong, Jaso began this year back with the Biscuits because the Rays wanted him to work on his defense. Opinions on the degree to which Jaso improved his defense this year are mixed, but the scouting consensus is that he still has a ways to go behind the plate despite having 55 arm strength on the 20-80 scouting scale. One AL scout who was bullish on Jaso’s ability to stick at catcher before this season came away with less conviction in that opinion after seeing Jaso play this year. "It’s his footwork and getting his arm to not make throws that tail," said the scout. "The raw arm strength is there, but his mechancis in getting everything together is not."
MLBTradeRumors.com quotes Jayson Stark regarding Cliff Floyd wanting to return to the Rays: "The signing of Pat Burrell seemed to close the door on Cliff Floyd's return to Tampa Bay. But Floyd's agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, continue to speak with the Rays about finding a role for Floyd, who served as Tampa Bay's primary lefthanded DH last year. Floyd has told friends that returning to the Rays is still his first choice."
It appears Rocco Baldelli will be joining the Red Sox for 2009: "All along, Rocco Baldelli had planned to be at the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner on Thursday night, where he will be honored as the winner of the Tony Conigliaro Award. As it turns out, Baldelli may now be receiving that as an official member of the Boston Red Sox, the team he grew up rooting for as a kid."
R.J. Anderson offers a classy farewell to Rocco at DRaysBay: "The comparisons to Josh Hamilton are going to be numerous. Those are complete and utterly ridiculous. The two cases are nothing alike, and to compare Baldelli's situation to Hamilton's is being reckless and disregarding Rocco's upstanding character. Rocco didn't choose his body just like he didn't choose to be compared to Joe DiMaggio, yet never did Rocco come across as someone full of self-pity, never did Rocco try and make himself the object of sympathy, and frankly that tells me a lot more about his character and personality than his baseball statistics."
On a slightly less classy note, our young bachelors on the Rays are now safe: "Major League Baseball loving Hollywood sweetheart Alyssa Milano is engaged to marry Hollywood agent David Bugliar." She does photograph well, see link.
And finally, since we're on the topic of women, Ben Zobrist's wife Julianna has released her first CD: "The type of music is called Christian alternative," Julianna said. "Christian because lyrically, nearly every song is about what I have learned as a believer in Christ ... as well as things I have observed and am challenged by. Alternative is also used to describe my music, because it is a little funky. There are some definite electronic elements, and lots of fun different sounds that make it very unlike most of the Christian music out on the radio today. It is very creative and quirky, yet still solid and uplifting lyrically."