You can take a video tour of the Rays Spring Training facility at Charlotte Sports Park courtesy of The News-Express. Very nice.
The Durham Bulls are selling game-used jerseys: "For a limited time, the Ballpark Corner Store is selling game-used Durham Bulls uniforms. Jerseys and pants are available from the 2003-2008 seasons, and include Durham Bulls heroes such as Jonny Gomes, Brooks Badeaux, Chris Richard, Wade Davis, Joel Guzman and more. Jerseys are available for $124.99 and pants for $19.99. Orders are available by phone only, so call now at 919-687-6570." I don't think the Guzman uni would fit me.
On another Durham note: "The Raleigh Hot Stove League will stage its 59th annual banquet Tuesday January 27th at the McKimmon Center on the NC State University campus in Raleigh.A silent auction will begin at 5:30pm with the banquet to follow at 6:30pm. Matt Silverman, team president of the American League champion Tampa Bay Rays, will be the featured speaker. Silverman has directed the Rays to their greatest success in his three seasons at the helm. Don Zimmer, previously announced as principal speaker,had to withdraw for personal reasons." Of course, that led to concern about Zim.
Then we learned this from Marc Lancaster: "Don Zimmer acknowledged Friday that a stroke he suffered last month has slowed him down a bit, but he doesn't plan to let it keep him off the baseball field." Prayers for his health.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods interviewed their Merchandise Manager, Kyle Hanrahan: "Q: What goes into choosing the merchandise you select for the Team Store? A: Choosing what to buy can be quite a tough task. For me, personally, I watch the trends from larger retailers (namely specialty sporting goods stores). These buying trends and fashion offerings can usually give you a fairly good pulse on where the market is going. While these are standard ways to gauge what will sell in market, the best way is to speak with your guests and fans to really get an idea of they want to see in the store." It includes other questions about his personal background.
Kevin appeared with Tyler Hissey on the RaysDigest Podcast on January 15th. It was an interesting show, as always.
The Rays Party of America apparently is alive: "The Rays Party has moved over to the MVN in hopes of reaching more readers and make it grow to one of the best Tampa Bay Rays blog around. I still have to work the bells and whistles of the site and should return to normal by next Tuesday." Good news.
RaysIndex has made some changes: "As by now you have surely noticed, we made quite a few changes around here over the last couple of days. We don’t want you guys thinking all we do is drink on the weekends. First off, most of the changes are aesthetic but many things, you as the reader, can’t see. These were implemented to make our lives a little easier. Many of the changes are designed to allow us to bring the posts to you more efficiently and in a more timely manner." I like the new look.
And finally, John Sickels has been taking a look back at his Top 50 Pitching and Hitting Prospects from 2004. Rays (and former Rays) mentioned include:
"3) Edwin Jackson, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers, Grade A: Progress has been slow but has had flashes of success.
5) Scott Kazmir, LHP, New York Mets, Grade A-: Excellent when healthy.
25) Chad Gaudin, RHP, Tampa Bay, Grade B+: Flashes of success, not a bad pitcher.
50) Grant Balfour, RHP, Minnesota Twins, Grade B: Solid bullpen arm when healthy.
4) B.J. Upton, SS, Tampa Bay, Grade A. Just getting started. Results have been somewhat erratic, but 2007 was excellent.
16) Delmon Young, OF, Tampa Bay, Grade B+: Still trying to put things together, but still very young.
21) Dioner Navarro, C, New York Yankees, Grade B+. Good year in 2008 and still rather young.
25) Gabe Gross, OF, Toronto Blue Jays, Grade B+: A useful role player."
You can purchase John's 2009 prospect book here.