Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Rays Notes

Charlotte Stone CrabsThe Charlotte Stone Crabs have their new 10-Game Mini Plans on sale now. For only $60 you get tickets to 9 Friday and Saturday games plus the home opener. Some of the scheduled games are Fireworks Night and giveaway nights including Team Baseball Cap, T-Shirt and Baseball Night. Another nice feature, if you can't make it to one of the 10 pre-scheduled games, you can exchange your ticket for any other home game free of charge. You also get a free Game Program for all the plan games.

The Durham Bulls are featured in two 2009 calendars. The North Carolina Governor's Highway Safety Calendar and the Baseball America Great Parks Calendar both have a Bulls photo for the month of May.

Stacy Long reports the Rays have signed Jake Gautreau: "Infielder Jake Gautreau, who played last year with the independent Fort Worth Cats, has signed with the Tampa Bay Rays and is likely headed to Triple-A Durham this year. Gautreau, a former Tulane star, was in Triple-A from 2004-07, the last with New Orleans, before going to Fort Worth. He was the 14th overall pick in the 2001 draft and hit .282 last year for Fort Worth. He played first, second and third bases."

Buster Olney reports the Rays have signed a LOOGY: "Brian Shouse, a veteran left-handed reliever, has agreed to a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, according to baseball sources. The deal is pending a physical exam, which he will take on Thursday."

Project Prospect is already projecting 2010's Top 10 Prospects. Rays SS Tim Beckham comes in 10th.

Jonathan Mayo says Hudson Valley Renegades owner Marv Goldklang is part of a group trying to restart the Israel Baseball League: "Goldklang is a limited partner of the Yankees and also owns a host of Minor League teams -- Fort Myers, Charleston, Hudson Valley and a pair of independent league clubs. He was on an advisory committee for the Israel Baseball League back in 2007, but left when he became displeased by the operation. Instead of giving up, though, he wants to give it another try doing it the right way. He's part of a group that includes Jeff Rosen, who owns a basketball team in the Israeli Premier League and some other investors involved in Major League Baseball."

Teddy Mitrosilis describes the growth of Matt Garza at "But that wasn’t getting him any closer to big league superstardom. At some point, if he wanted to take full advantage of his incredible gifts, Garza would have to make the leap from hyperventilating maniac to focused assassin on the mound. There were times at the beginning of the season where you would look at Garza on the mound and just wait for the smoke to ooze from his ears and nostrils. He physically looked that wired. But two monumental things happened last season that turned Garza around and allowed him to become the dominant pitcher the Rays were waiting for, and it all began in the summer heat of Texas."

Wade Davis participated in the 2009 Rookie Career Development Program and has a video interview with him.

And finally, Ken Rosenthal reports that the "C-word" is beginning to be whispered: "Pitchers and catchers begin reporting to spring training in two weeks, yet nearly 90 free agents are still looking for jobs. The union examines trends in every free-agent market, but will not decide whether to file a collusion grievance until the signing period is complete."

Friday, January 30, 2009

Rays Notes

Montgomery BiscuitsIf you are in the Montgomery (Biscuits) area, tickets to the inaugural MAX Capital City Classic baseball game featuring the Auburn Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide will go on sale Monday. Until now, tickets have only been available in groups of 20 or more or within season ticket packages.

The inaugural game, presented by MAX, Your Community Credit Union will take place on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 6:30 p.m. at Riverwalk Stadium in downtown Montgomery. The game marks the first time the schools will meet in a regular-season, non-conference game since they met in a seven-year series at Paterson Field. The teams played from 1990-1996 in front of crowds over 7,000 in the capital city.

“Fans have been inquiring about purchasing tickets since the announcement of the game in 2008 and we are excited that they will have their opportunity now,” said Biscuits President/GM Greg Rauch. “This is going to be a special game and we expect to be close to capacity. We only have a limited number of tickets and this is going to be an event that Tiger and Tide fans in Montgomery won’t want to miss.”

Individual tickets for the game start at $15 for lawn seating, $17 for Box seating, $19 for Super Box seating and $21 for Executive Club seating. A complete seating diagram is available when placing an order. The Box Office will be open at 10:00 a.m. Monday morning and will be open daily Monday-Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Fans can also call the Biscuits office at 334-323-2255 or visit to purchase tickets online.

A reminder, tryouts to sing the National Anthem during the Charlotte Stone Crabs inaugural season and Tampa Bay Rays 2009 spring training are tomorrow, Saturday, January 31st, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Registration does not start until 9 a.m., and the tryouts will take place on a first-come, first-served basis until 12 p.m. Participants can park in front of the stadium and follow the signs through the front gate and up the ramp to the registration table inside the seating bowl at Charlotte Sports Park. Individual vocalists, choirs, groups and instrumentalists of all ages are all allowed to participate. They must sing or play a live, acapella version of “The Star Spangled Banner” in its entirety inside the stadium to be eligible to perform. More information.

Another singing note, on Sunday, February 15th the Bowling Green Hot Rods will have auditions for National Anthem performers and a public address announcer. Auditions will be held at the Capitol Theater, located on Fountain Square in downtown Bowling Green, from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM. More audition information. On the public address announcer: "All PA hopefuls must be at least 21 years old to audition and be available for 70 Hot Rods home games. Potential PA announcers will be asked to read a sponsored promotion, present a potential starting line-up, and introduce a Hot Rods’ player to home plate. Performers will be judged on voice strength, presence, and energy level. Selection of an announcer will also be based on availability for 70 Hot Rods games."

Benjamin Hill's article at MiLB about making the transition from professional baseball player to a Minor League front office includes a profile of Hudson Valley's Joe Ausanio: "One veteran of both worlds is Joe Ausanio, who is in his 11th season in the Hudson Valley Renegades front office after spending 10 as a player. Like Raggio, Ausanio also made it to the Majors, appearing in 41 games with the Yankees over the 1994 and '95 seasons. His last season was 1997, when he appeared in three games with Triple-A Colorado Springs.

"After I retired, I was contacted by a local TV station to do Renegades games as a color commentator," said Ausanio, a Hudson Valley native. "I did about a dozen games and I really liked the way the team operated. So one day, I gave them a call. ... I was looking to get back into baseball on the front office side. I wanted to learn that aspect because I already knew the playing side. They didn't have anything at the time, but one day they gave me a call and asked if I knew anything about food. I didn't but said I was willing to learn."

The Renegades hired Ausanio in 1999 as director of food services. He also serves as director of sales for the short-season club."

Bill Chastain at talks about the Rays growing payroll: "But Tampa Bay's estimated $60 million payroll for the coming season -- though paltry in comparison to what the estimated payrolls of the Boston Red Sox ($135 million) and New York Yankees ($205 million) will be in 2009 -- is a major step for the franchise and a testament to the organization's commitment to winning.

Consider that the Rays' 2009 payroll is nearly 2 1/2 times greater than the '07 Opening Day payroll ($24 million) and that becomes even more evident. Tampa Bay had its lowest payroll in 2003 at $19.63 million, and the team's high came in '00, when it was at $64,407,910."

One other interesting note from the article: "Tampa Bay certainly responded on the field when the fans came out to watch it play in 2008, posting a 21-2 mark when more than 30,000 showed."

Rays Spring Training 2009

Spring TrainingHere is a summary of information for anyone planning on going to the upcoming Rays Spring Training.

Charlotte Sports Park
2300 El Jobean Rd.
Port Charlotte, FL 33948

From I-75, exit the interstate at Toledo Blade Road (Exit 179) and turn right (west). Proceed for approximately 6-1/2 miles to El Jobean Road (SR 776) and turn right. Charlotte Sports Park will be on the left in approximately 2 miles. Driving time from the Tampa/St. Petersburg area is 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Important Dates:
Monday, February 9, 1 p.m. – Rays equipment truck will be loaded at Tropicana Field.
Friday, February 13, 1 p.m. - Opening spring training press conference, Charlotte Sports Park with Rays Manager Joe Maddon and Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman.
Sunday, February 15, 1 p.m. - First workout for pitchers and catchers, following physical examinations.
Wednesday, February 18, 10 a.m. - First workout for the full squad.
Friday, February 20, 7:45 a.m.- Photo Day for the Media.
Wednesday, March 11 – Rays Charity Golf Tournament to benefit Rays Baseball Foundation at Ritz Carlton Golf Club, Sarasota.

Spring Workouts:
There is no charge to attend the Rays workouts. Detailed rosters will be available for free.

Spring Training Games:

Pre-Game Workout Schedules for Afternoon Home Games (1:05 P.M. Starts):
Rays Batting Practice: 10:20 - 11:20 A.M.
Visitors Batting Practice: 11:20 A.M. - 12:20 P.M.
Rays Infield: 12:20 - 12:30 P.M.
Visitors Infield: 12:30 - 12:40 P.M.

Pre-Game Workout Schedules for Evening Home Games (7:05 P.M. Starts):
Rays Batting Practice: 4:20 - 5:20 P.M.
Visitors Batting Practice: 5:20 - 6:20 P.M.
Rays Infield: 6:20 - 6:30 P.M.
Visitors Infield: 6:30 - 6:40 P.M.

All reserved seats to the Rays 16 home games are sold out. All that remains is Berm for $9. Tickets can be purchased at the Tropicana Field Box Office, Charlotte Sports Park Box Office, Tampa Pro Shop, all Ticketmaster locations, via Ticketmaster phonecharge and online at or Tickets may also be purchased by calling (727) 898-RAYS or (813) 282-RAYS.

Minor League Camp:
Facility is located at Charlotte Sports Park. The first workout for minor league pitchers and catchers is March 6. The first workout for minor league position players is March 10. Approximately 140 minor leaguers will be in camp.

Local Hotels:
Days Inn
1941 Tamiami Trail
Port Charlotte, FL 33948
(941) 627-8900

Holiday Inn
24440 Sandhill Blvd.
Port Charlotte, FL 33983
(877) 863-4780

Wyvern Hotel
101 E. Retta Esplanade
Punta Gorda, FL 33950
(941) 639-7700

Thursday, January 29, 2009

#2 Reid Brignac Statistics

Statistics for Reid Brignac:

200519ASouthwest Michigan56551277135292156140131.264.317.416.733
200822MLBTampa Bay111010000015.

200519ASouthwest Michigan565512.1527.1%23.2%.328.319
200822MLBTampa Bay1110.0009.1%45.5%.00040%20%.065

Split Statistics with Durham in 2008:

Top 15 Hitters: #2 Reid Brignac

Reid BrignacReid Brignac
6’3’’ 170 lbs 1/16/1986
2008: Durham/Tampa Bay
Acquired: 2004 Draft, Round 2

Reid Brignac's 2008 season might best be described as a simultaneous step backwards and forwards. After his breakout season in the Cal League two years ago, Brignac was better in his 2007 numbers in Montgomery: His walks were up, his strikeouts were down, and his tools were still evident.

The tools are still there, but Brignac struggled greatly at the plate in 2008 with Durham. He hit just .250 and got on base at a .299 clip. In 2007, he drew a walk in 9.4% of his plate appearances. That ratio slipped to 6.6% this year. His home run rate was down, he wasn't stealing as many bases, and to make matters worse, his season ended in early August when he was hit by a pitch that fractured his wrist.

The the step forward from his 2008 campaign was his defense. During his breakout season two years ago, there were question marks about his defense and whether he'd be able to stick at SS. He's answered those emphatically, and was named by International League managers as the league's top defensive shortstop. Even if his bat doesn't develop the way it looked like it might, he'll find a spot in the majors. Also consider that, except for a month in Montgomery in 2007 and then the full season in 2007, Brignac has yet to repeat a level like he will when he starts 2009 in Durham again. He'll be 23 this season, so it's not like he's aging out of prospect range.

Brignac has an above-average arm and it appears his defense has caught up. He's got good power(very good for a shortstop), and he'll be looking to turn more of his doubles into home runs. He still needs to work on making more consistent contact; right now it looks like he'll only be a .300 hitter in a career year. He can offset that with his power and by drawing more walks. He's not a great runner, maybe slightly above-average speed, although he can steal a base if need be, having swiped 41 in his minor league career.

Unless something happens to Jason Bartlett between now and Opening Day, Brignac will start 2009 in Durham. He hasn't put up great offensive numbers in two seasons now, so 2009 will be important as far as answering questions about his bat. One possibility the Rays could explore in the future is a platoon of Bartlett(who hits lefties well) and Brignac(who hit better against righties in 2008).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snowy Notes

SnowflakeSorry for the lack of posts, I've been shoveling snow. Bill Chastain has this from Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison on the 2009 draft: "Because I don't anticipate David Price or Tim Beckham being available," Harrison said. "Those kinds of tools aren't available at No. 30. I mean, if they are, then the industry hasn't really recognized it or it might be a situation where it's a young guy that has been identified as being a very difficult to sign player.

"But I think that in most Drafts -- and the numbers can change each year -- after you get past that first handful of guys -- and the further you get from that handful of guys -- you have a chance to get a similar type talent, tools, with the 30th pick as you do with someone in the teens."

Ed Edmonds continues his look at salary arbitration at the Sports Law Blog: "Many observers of the process focus on the teams and players that proceed to a hearing first and the group that exchanges numbers second. This ignores all of the cases that are settled either before the exchange of figures or prior to a hearing. Look at some of these recent figures -

Year - Cases Filed - Cases Settled - Number of Hearings

2005 - 89 - 86 - 3 (Teams won 2 out of the 3)
2006 - 100 - 94 - 6 (Teams won 4 out of the 6)
2007 - 106 - 99 - 7 (Teams won 4 out of the 7)
2008 - 110 - 102 - 8 (Teams won 6 out of the 8)"

Predictions on how the Rays will fare with Aybar and Navarro?

Monday, January 26, 2009

2009 Tampa Bay Rays ZiPS Projections

Tampa Bay RaysDan Szymborski has posted his projections for the Rays in 2009 at BBTF. His summary: "There's every indication that the Rays can repeat their success. The offense, which is generally very young with the exception of Carlos Pena and Pat Burrell, isn't one of the elite offenses in the league, but they're good enough everywhere and have a lot of depth. At almost every position, there's a player that could fill-in for the starter and, while not necessarily replacing the missing production, not be a complete embarrassment.

The pitching staff and the defensive improvement is the team's biggest strength. The pitching staff is extremely young and extremely deep, with ZiPS seeing a full rotation with a few spare starters, even before taking into account development of Hellickson and Rollins and the return of Clockhands McGee from Tommy John surgery."

#3 Desmond Jennings Statistics

Statistics for Desmond Jennings:

200821A+Vero Beach10285172251261416.259.353.412.765

200821A+Vero Beach10285.15313.7%15.7%.29947%17%.337

Split Statistics with Vero Beach in 2008:

Top 15 Hitters: #3 Desmond Jennings

Desmond Jennings
Desmond Jennings
6’2’’ 180 lbs 10/30/1986
2008: Vero Beach/AFL
Acquired: 2006 Draft, Round 10

The best athlete in the system, Desmond Jennings burst onto the prospect scene with a breakout performance for Columbus in 2007. Named by Baseball America as the South Atlantic League’s Top Prospect after 2007, Jennings was poised to continue his rise through the minors before injuries derailed his 2008 campaign.

Signed out of Itawamba CC for $150,000, Jennings was a standout both on the diamond and on the football field, where he earned JuCo All-American honors as a wide receiver in 2005. Jennings’ 2007 was excellent. He hit .315/.401/.465 with 9 homers and 45 steals for Columbus in 2007. His season was cut short after 99 games due to a meniscus tear in his knee, which required season ending surgery. The injury would foreshadow more troubles in 2008. Jennings suffered a back injury early in 2008 that forced him to miss the first two months of the minor league season. When he finally returned to action with Vero Beach, Jennings played only 24 games before being sidelined for the rest of the year with a left shoulder injury that required surgery. In those 24 games Jennings posted a vital of .259/.360/.412, although the shoulder injury likely limited his production. By the end of the season Jennings was healthy and was sent to the AFL where he appeared in just 12 games as part of the taxi squad for the Peoria Javelinas.

Jennings’ tools all rate as average or better. An excellent defensive outfielder, Jennings uses his elite speed to chase down balls in center and has an average arm. At the plate he has the ability to drive the ball to all fields and has some power potential, although it has not shown up in games yet. Jennings’ strike zone judgement is also exceptional as he works counts well and isn’t afraid to take a walk. His willingness to take pitches and get on base coupled with elite speed makes Jennings a model leadoff hitter.

He’ll open 2009 with the Rays FSL affilliate, the Charlotte County Stone Crabs. A midseason callup is not out of the question. If Jennings can stay healthy, he will likely re-establish himself as one of the minors top outfield prospects in 2009 and could be knocking on the door of the majors by 2010.

Minor Moves

Rayner OliverosMatt Eddy at Baseball America reports the Rays have signed RHP Rayner Oliveros to a minor league deal. Transactions involving former Rays include C Hector Gimenez signing with the Pirates, SS Jorge Velandia signing with the Phillies, and RHP Jason Standridge signing with the Marlins.

Eddy says "Standridge, 30, returns to the States after two years spent pitching in Japan, for the Pacific League’s Fukuoka club. He did well in 2007, posting a 3.00 ERA in a swingman role, while striking out 35 and walking 23 in 54 innings. Limited to 13 innings last year, Standridge, the 31st overall pick in 1997, struggled to a 7.62 ERA."

The 23 year-old Oliveros pitched this winter for the Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League. In 26.2 innings (14 G, 2 starts) he put up a 3.71 ERA, striking out 14 and walking 5. He last appeared in the minors in 2007 for the Royals A+ team in the Carolina League. In 70.1 innings (37 G, 1 start) he had a 4.22 ERA, striking out 53 and walking 17. He was originally signed by Kansas City as a non-drafted free agent from Venezuela on September 13, 2003. He should fill a bullpen spot somewhere in the minors next year.

Rays Index is reporting the PTBNL for Chad Bradford isn't a player after all: "We just spoke with the Rays front office and they confirmed that the Rays paid the O’s the standard $20K waiver claim fee for Bradford."

Monday Notes

BaseballProject Prospect has ranked the Top Center Field Prospects Under 25 and Under 30. B.J. Upton is #1 on the Under 25 list and #2 on the Under 30 list (behind Grady Sizemore).

Jordan Kobritz at The Biz of Baseball discusses the recent calls for a salary cap after the Yankee spending sprees. Bottom line: "A salary cap in MLB is merely a pipe dream. It’s also a convenient crutch for incompetence on the part of team management. If the Pirates had drafted as well as Tampa Bay over the past 12 years, they - not the Phillies - would have played the Rays in last year’s World Series."

The Bowling Green Hot Rods will offer two baseball camps for kids this season: "The Hot Rods will offer two 2-day camps for children from the ages of 7 to 13. Session One is June 1st and June 2nd. Session Two is July 6th and July 7th. Camp will run each day from 9:30 am - 12:30 pm. Campers will work on a dry swing routine, batting tee drills, soft-toss drills, and practice hitting using machines and batting cages, just like the Hot Rods. Base running, pitching, and fielding will also be covered by Hot Rods players and coaches. Daily live game situations and game strategy will be covered as well. The cost is $75 per camper and will include a ticket to a Hot Rods game on the last day of the camp, plus an autograph session with players and coaches."

Gabriel Martinez had two doubles, a triple, an RBI and a run scored to help the Ponce Leones to an 8-0 victory. The win gives the Leones the Puerto Rican Winter League championship and secures them a spot in the Caribbean Series.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ranking The GM's

QuestionAlex Remington asks the question 'Who do you think are the best GMs in the game?' His answer:
"First tier:
Theo Epstein
Andrew Friedman
Billy Beane

I think everyone here will probably have Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman near the top of their lists, right along with (and maybe even higher than the ringless) Billy Beane. Epstein and Friedman have won 3 of the last 5 AL pennants between them, and maintain two of the most stacked major league teams, along with two of the most stacked minor league teams. That's a pretty good recipe for long-term success."


Friday, January 23, 2009

Rays Notes

Princeton RaysPrinceton Rays GM Jim Holland was interviewed at "It does amaze me how well the simple things like foam fingers move and that we cannot keep those on the shelves. We also stock lower-priced items like logo balls and plastic batting helmets from almost every Major League team, and they also move quite well. As far as unique, cowbells were popular and a souvenir mover in our park long before they were even a thought in Tampa Bay."

You can meet Princeton's new manager: "Fans of Princeton Rays baseball and all members of the general public are invited to meet and welcome 2009 P-Rays' manager Jared Sandberg to Princeton, WV as part of a free reception on Thursday evening, February 5, 2009. The welcoming reception will be held at Schell Fellowship Hall of the First United Methodist Church of Princeton, located at 100 Center Street in Princeton from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. that evening. Brief remarks will be delivered at 7:35 p.m. There will be drawings for Rays' door prizes following the remarks segment of the program."

Princeton made an addition to their front office: "Aiden Thornhill, a senior Sports Management major at nearby Bluefield college, joined the Princeton Rays' front office team on January 22 as an administrative/marketing intern. Thornhill, a resident of Thornhill, VA, will be with the team at least through the first part of May helping General Manager Jim Holland make preparations for the upcoming season."

More job opportunities, this time with the Bowling Green Hot Rods: "As a game-day intern, you will work hand-in-hand with our front office staff members, gaining valuable sports marketing experience while ensuring our fans have the best possible time at the ballpark. Over the course of the season, you’ll get to work in all facets of our operation: sales, stadium operations, community and media relations, and merchandising, just to name a few. By the end of the season, you will have a head start over many people looking to break into this fun and demanding industry." Click here for details.

The Sports Law Blog discusses the Rays “file-and-go strategy” on arbitration: "After the Phillies lost to Ryan Howard last year for their first setback at a hearing (the Phillies are now 7-1 in their 8 hearings), the Rays became the only team with a perfect winning record in arbitration hearings. After reviewing the exchanged numbers between the two parties [referring to Willy Aybar and Dioner Navarro], I thought I spotted an interesting point. The differences between the two figures are amongst the closest of all of the 46 exchanged figures this year."
"I have at least two thoughts about this. If the parties were that close, why couldn’t they get a deal done before the deadline? Second, does the “early deadline” prompted by the “file-and-go strategy” help push the two parties closer to each other? One of my arguments has been that salary arbitration usually works because most of the time the parties agree to a figure at the midpoint or slightly below the midpoint."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More Notes

Carl CrawfordDave Cameron at FanGraphs discusses the three-CF outfield: "Last year, the Tampa Bay Rays were the new success story, one of the foundations of that success was their outfield defense. Carl Crawford is, for all intents and purposes, a center fielder. He’s just been assigned to left field for the Rays. B.J. Upton is the prototypical center fielder with long strides and blazing speed. And, while Gabe Gross might not look like a center fielder, he’s performed like one during his major league career. These three spent the majority of the time in the outfield for the Rays last year, and were the reason why Tampa racked up a +45 UZR from their outfield in 2008. Based on what we’re seeing in Baltimore and Seattle, it appears that the Three CF model of outfields that Tampa made en vogue is catching on in other cities as well."
"It will be interesting to see how these Three CF outfields turn out. All of them lack the traditional slugging corner outfielder, but if you see the Orioles, Mariners, and Rays once again exceeding national expectations, don’t be surprised if even more teams start copying the Three CF model." I'm not sure what the 'once again exceeding national expectations' has to do with the Orioles and Mariners. Am I missing something?

Back to the earlier jobs theme, here are two more for writers at RotoWorld: "Rotoworld is looking for writers to join the staff as paid, part-time contributors for the upcoming baseball season. Previous writing experience is an absolute must, as is significant knowledge of and passion for both baseball and fantasy baseball. Qualified applicants would work under baseball editors Aaron Gleeman and Matthew Pouliot, providing coverage for Rotoworld's player news page that requires the ability to report news with instant analysis and recap games in a clear, concise style. Rotoworld is also looking for someone to specifically focus on our baseball rankings and projections. This person could also be involved in a writing capacity, but would work specifically on weekly rankings and projections in conjunction with our baseball staff. A great feel for fantasy baseball player values and statistics is a necessity." See the link for Aaron's email address.

From the chat with Scouts Inc.'s Keith Law: "Tommy(draysbay): IF he says healthy, do you think the Rays could slide Desmond Jennings into Carl Crawford's spot after 2010?
Keith Law: Yes.
Tim (Chicago): Do GM's have significant influence on the draft or is it mostly done by farm directors and scouts?
Keith Law: Scouting directors run the draft for just about every team. Farm directors might be in the room but rarely have input until it becomes time to pick org players to fill out short-season rosters. GMs are usually involved in the first pick or first few picks, because the money is higher.
Jimmy (Chicago): Does Even Longoria come back to earth this year, or is he really that good?
Keith Law: He's Even better."

Daily Notes

Tampa Bay RaysKeith Law has posted several 'Top' lists. The Top 25 prospects in baseball includes 3 Rays (26-100 are Insider content), the Top 10 by position includes 5 Rays, the Top players by organization lists his Rays Top 10, and the Top farm systems has the Rays 2nd to the Rangers with this blurb: "They just keep churning out the prospects, although they'll have a new challenge in 2009: no draft picks in the top 10 -- or even 20. Success with high school pitchers taken after the first round has been a big part of their system's depth, including another wave of kids who spent 2008 in short-season ball. However, their recent efforts in Latin America have yet to yield any significant prospects."

It's easy to quibble with a pick here or a pick there, but I think overall Keith's rankings are the best available. One surprise, Desmond Jennings as the #25 prospect and #3 center field prospect in all of baseball. Keith on Desmond: "The lost year of development hurts, but Jennings remains a top prospect due to his tool set and tremendous feel for the game. Jennings is a great athlete, a plus-plus runner who's well-built and has a compact stroke geared toward contact. He is strong enough and should be big enough to hit 20-25 homers a year (if not more), but his power hasn't shown up in games yet, and it's not likely to do so until he's 100 percent physically. He also has outstanding baseball instincts in the field, on the bases, and even at the plate, where he shows good pitch recognition."

The Biz of Baseball has added a Minor League Attendance Database: "With assistance from MiLB, The Biz of Baseball now offers an attendance database with data dating back to 2005. Searches can be done by Year, Team, Class, League, and Division. Queries returned display total and average attendance for each team in returned data as well as total gates and openings lost due to weather for a given year." Another excellent addition to a great site.

Josh Leventhal at Baseball America discusses the tough financial situations facing minor leaguers in the offseason: "Most minor league players earn less than $10,000 for an entire season. These paychecks only come during the season, which makes finding a part-time job in the offseason a matter of survival. Part-time gigs have not been hard to find in past years. Companies have been eager to have a professional athlete on staff, sometimes simply for the trophy value alone. Even if a position weren't readily available, they would often invent one just to have the athlete around. The situation has been quite different for many minor leaguers this offseason." Hard to live on $10,000 a year.
"Many may think that the arrival of spring training would provide players with much needed economic relief. In truth, it only complicates matters. Players do not receive paychecks in spring training, but instead receive only a per diem of around $20 per day." Even harder to live on $20 a day.
"Major League Baseball provided no relief for its farmhands this offseason when it denied a request to increase minor leaguers meal money per diem from $20 to $25. The Boston Globe reported that MLB officials felt that an increase was inappropriate given the current economic climate." But the Yankees' spending spree(s), some with taxpayer dollars, were appropriate?

If you are looking for a job, the Montgomery Biscuits are holding a Job Fair: "The Montgomery Biscuits are holding a Job Fair on Saturday, February 7th at Riverwalk Stadium located in our Home Clubhouse. Live interviews will be conducted on-site for every game day department including food service, box office, retail, customer service, stadium operations, grounds crew, scoreboard control room staff and promotional team as well as internships." For the long list of available positions click here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

#4 Fernando Perez Statistics

Statistics for Fernando Perez:

200825MLBTampa Bay726018152038816.250.333.433.766

200825MLBTampa Bay7260.18311.1%22.2%.29342%30%.321

Split Statistics with Durham in 2008:

Top 15 Hitters: #4 Fernando Perez

Fernando PerezFernando Perez
6’1’’ 195 lbs 04/23/1983
2008: Durham/Tampa Bay
Acquired: 2004 Draft, Round 7

The quintessential speedy outfielder, Fernando Perez has been climbing the organizational ladder since he was drafted out of Columbia University in 2004. The Rays’ 2008 Minor League Player of the Year, Perez made his mark with the big league club by scoring the winning run in extra innings in Game 2 of the ALCS against the Red Sox.

Perez shot up organizational depth charts after his stellar showing with Montgomery in 2007 where he hit .308/.419/.478. After making the jump to AAA Durham in 2008 he had another excellent year (.286/.356/.387), which earned him a September callup and a spot on the Rays postseason roster. A natural righty, Perez began switch hitting in 2006 but still needs significant work on hitting from the left side. Against right handed pitching Fernando posted an OPS of just .705(.818 against lefties) in 2008 and his ground ball rate from the left side of the plate was an incredible 71.6%. Perez does show good pop when batting right handed though.

Ground balls are not necessarily a bad thing for Perez. His elite speed allows him to leg out many infield hits. Despite 80 raw speed Perez’s caught stealing rates were 36% and 22% in 2007 and 2008 respectively. His success rate should increase as he gains more experience at the upper levels though. Defensively he uses his speed well, resulting in plus range in centerfield. An average arm makes him above average overall defensively. Perez also has excellent plate discipline and has never posted a walk rate lower than 10% at any level since being drafted. Strikeouts are a concern though as he struck out 26.9% of the time while with Durham.

Due to B.J. Upton’s offseason shoulder surgery, there is a good chance that Perez will be Tampa’s 2009 opening day starter in centerfield. Once Upton is healthy Perez will likely find himself as part of a rightfield platoon and pinch runner or back in AAA Durham to continue work on batting left handed.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Rays Notes, Holiday Edition

Martin Luther King, Jr. DayYou 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.

Why I Like the GCL Team

It's old news that the Rays added a new affiliate, a Gulf Coast League rookie team, but it's sort of flown under the radar. So anyway, and I'm sure the Rays reasoning was something along these lines, here's why I like the addition:

1. The Rays have obviously made an effort to be more active overseas. They've scouted talent in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venzuela, and probably some other places I'm forgetting(plus they're building an academy in Brazil). Often times, even with talented players, making the jump from Academy ball(or even DSL/VSL ball) to the Appalachian League is tough, even ignoring the fact they're adjusting to a new country and culture. The GCL team will serve as an easier introduction into stateside baseball, not to mention the additional playing time that comes with it.

2. Along those lines, adding a new team simply means there are more innings to be played and pitched. The Rays have drafted a ton of pitchers the past two seasons, and there just simply weren't enough innings to go around in Princeton. Consider Shawn Smith(2008 9th round pick), Bradley Furdal(2008 11th round pick) and Trevor Shull(2008 19th round pick). The three combined for just 21 games at Princeton, and only three starts. Now, part of this is not wanting to overwork pitchers considering they've pitched a full high school season in the spring, but that number seems a little bit low to me. Had the Rays had a GCL team in 2008, Shull would definitely have gone there, and there's a good chance Smith and Furdal would have, too. And if the Rays have a surplus at another position(ie, they draft a bunch of infielders), then the GCL team could be used to alleviate that logjam too.

3. It seems to me, and I don't have hard evidence to back this up, that by adding a GCL team, players will simply get more chances to prove themselves. Again consider Trevor Shull. In his limited work(just 8 innings), he allowed 11 runs and walked 7 guys. Now let's say that no GCL team was being added. What would his outlook for 2009 be? Well, he'd obviously be back in Princeton, but so (probably) will be Furdal, Smith, Jason McEachern, perhaps a pitcher or two from a Latin American academy, plus the set of 2009 draftees. How many innings would Shull really see? My guess is not many, if he does, then someone else isn't getting very many. With a Gulf Coast League team, though, the Rays can send the less advanced 2009 draftees there, so Shull will likely get a better look at Princeton, and the 2009 kids will get a better look in the GCL. Everyone wins.

As long as there's enough talent to reasonably fill out the rosters, and you're not stuck with 22-year old retreads in Princeton, then the GCL team is a valuable asset.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ryu Claimed By Padres

OspreyPer Paul DePodesta, the San Diego Padres have claimed Jae Kuk Ryu off waivers from the Rays: "Today we signed INF David Eckstein to a one-year deal and claimed RHP Jae Kuk Ryu off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays."
"Jae Kuk Ryu is a 25-year old right-handed pitcher from Seoul, South Korea. Originally signed for $1.6 million by the Cubs in 2001, Ryu has spent parts of the past three seasons in the Majors with Chicago and Tampa Bay. His 2008 season ended prematurely, however, as he was shut down in May and had relatively minor elbow surgery in June. Ryu's fastball sits around 90 mph while reaching as high as 92, and he complements it with both a curveball and a changeup. According to our scouts, all of his pitches grade out as at least Major League average, and he can throw all three for strikes. Given his repertoire and success as a starter in the minor leagues, we believe Ryu can compete for a spot in our rotation or our pen. He has one minor league option remaining."

Kazmir, Howell Added To Team USA

2009 World Baseball ClassicScott Kazmir and J.P. Howell have been added to the Potential Team USA World Baseball Classic Roster.

I really don't like this. Why let Kazmir put mileage on his arm in 'classic' exhibition games before the season even starts?

#5 John Jaso Statistics

Statistics for John Jaso:

200521ASouthwest Michigan3863326110225114504253.307.383.515.898
200824MLBTampa Bay101022000002.

200521ASouthwest Michigan386332.20810.9%13.7%.332.382
200824MLBTampa Bay1010.0000.0%20.0%.25029%29%.180

Split Statistics with Durham in 2008:

Top 15 Hitters: #5 John Jaso

John JasoJohn Jaso
6’2’’ 205lbs 09/19/1983
2008: Montgomery/Durham/Tampa Bay
Acquired: 2003 Draft, Round 12

The Rays’ top catching prospect, Jaso has made his name at the plate since being drafted out of Southwestern CC (California) in 2003. Jaso was forced to open 2008 in Montgomery to work on his defense despite his stellar showing in the Southern League in 2007.

Jaso’s 2007 with Montgomery was excellent. He hit .316/.407/.484 in 2007 with 12 HR. His .316 average was good enough for second in the Southern League. Despite this success, Jaso found himself back in Montgomery to start 2008 where he hit .270/.409/.406 in 281 at bats before getting the promotion to Durham where he posted a vital of .278/.339/.481 in just 108 at bats. Jaso slugged 12 homers between both levels in 2008. He saw limited action in the big leagues during a September callup where he had only 10 plate appearances.

Although his bat is above average for a catcher, there are questions about his defense behind the plate. The Rays decided to let him repeat AA in 2008 in order for him to continue working on his skills behind the plate. A good athlete for a catcher, he is adequate at blocking balls and calling a game, however his arm strength is below average. He has battled rotator cuff problems in the past but has managed to stay healthy the past two seasons. Despite a below average arm, he threw out 35% of runners trying to steal in 2007.

Jaso’s hitting tools are all average or better for a catcher. He has good pop and is a left handed hitter as well. Perhaps Jaso’s best skill is his well above average plate discipline. He walked in 13.1% of his plate appearances in 2007 and 17.6% of his plate appearances in 2008 with Montgomery, although those numbers did slip after his promotion to Durham. Jaso has posted K rates of around 10% for most of his career.

Jaso figures to fight for the backup catcher’s role with Shawn Riggans during of Spring Training. He is most likely to find himself in AAA to start the year though. His defense still needs to improve but there is little doubt that his bat is big league ready or very close to it. Already on the 40-man roster, Jaso will likely see some action with Tampa in 2009 and would be the Rays first in house option for a callup if Navarro or Riggans go down with an injury.

Daily Notes

Tampa Bay RaysIf you would like to sing the National Anthem at a Charlotte Stone Crabs game in 2009, the team is holding public auditions at the Charlotte Sports Park on Saturday, January 31st from 9 am to 1 pm.

Major League Baseball today announced the spring training workout dates for each team. For the Rays, the pitchers & catchers first workout is February 15th and the full squad's first workout is February 19th. Our first game is Wednesday, February 25th against Cincinnati at Port Charlotte at 1:05 pm.

Project Prospect has Desmond Jennings at #11 in its rankings of the Top 15 Center Field Prospects in baseball.

John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer spoke with the agent for Ken Griffey Jr.: ""We're still talking to four teams," his agent Brian Goldberg said. Two of the teams are National League. One of the two American League teams is Seattle. Goldberg wouldn't say who the others are. The Reds are not involved. Goldberg had talked to Tampa Bay, but the Rays' interest ended after they signed Pat Burrell."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Two More Minor Leaguers Signed

Tampa Bay RaysThe Rays continue to add to their upper-level minor league depth. Matt Eddy reports at BaseballAmerica that the Rays have re-signed LHP Jason Cromer and signed IF Jason Bowers to minor league contracts.

Cromer, 28, pitched for the Montgomery Biscuits (AA) in 2008, going 5-3 with a 3.96 ERA (4.56 tRA) in 29 games, including 8 starts. Bowers, who will turn 31 on January 27th, played 3B, SS, and 2B in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization last year, splitting time between AA and AAA. He put up a .323 wOBA in 309 AB's in AA, and a .366 wOBA in 59 AB's in AAA.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Web Notes

Jae Kuk RyuJae Kuk Ryu was designated for assignment today according to Bill Chastain. The move was necessary to clear a spot for Gabe Kapler on the Rays 40-man roster. Unfortunately, this move comes about a year too late in my opinion.

The Durham Bulls (AAA) are hiring: "The Bulls have positions available in game entertainment, grounds keeping, retail operations, seating bowl hosting, stadium operations, picnic hosting and ticket operations. The 2009 Hospitality Team Job Fair is scheduled for Saturday, January 31st from 9:00 AM until 12:00 PM at the ballpark. For more information about how you can spend your summer working with the Durham Bulls, call 687-6538 or click here."

Spring Training tickets are selling fast. Four games are completely sold out and you'll have to sit in the grass berm for all but one of the rest: "Reserved tickets for the Tampa Bay Rays 2009 Spring Training schedule are now sold out with the exception of their game against the Puerto Rico National Team on March 4."

Kevin is scheduled to appear with Tyler Hissey on the RaysDigest Podcast on Thursday at 1 p.m. Tyler does a great job on these so make sure to also check out his past shows at

Project Prospect ranks Evan Longoria #2 in its rankings of the Top 10 Third Basemen Under 30. He was #1 in the under 25 rankings.

And finally, The Rays Party of America is apparently over: "For all three of you regularly reading this blog, it seems my desire to continue writing on this blog has gone away. I may come back but it doesn't seem likely." Too bad, I enjoyed reading it.

Bowling Green (A) Adds To Front Office

Bowling Green Hot RodsThe Bowling Green Hot Rods made three additions to their front office staff, including two recent Western Kentucky University graduates. New assistants Ryan Renick, Cameron Wengrzyn, and Shari Krakauer joined the team as the countdown to Opening Night ticked below 100 days. "With the season approaching very quickly, having some extra hands in the pit will be a great asset," said team General Manager and CEO, Brad Taylor. "Through various channels, we've been able to see the abilities and work ethic of Shari, Ryan, and Cameron, and we know they will be strong additions to our front office team."

Ryan Renick, a new graduate of Western Kentucky University, joins the staff after completing an internship with the Hot Rods in December. Renick earned a degree in Recreation Administration, with a minor in Agriculture, and is a long-time resident of south-central Kentucky. Before moving to Bowling Green in 2001, he hailed from Cave City and spent his high school years playing baseball at nearby Barren County High School. He counts current major leaguers Joe Blanton and Cory Hart as two of his high school opponents.

Another recent graduate of Western Kentucky University, Cameron Wengrzyn will serve as the Hot Rods Production Assistant. He'll be responsible for creating graphics the team uses on its website, while also playing a role in the production of video board material for the upcoming season. Wengrzyn comes to the Hot Rods with Major League experience, working with the Cincinnati Reds as an Entertainment and Media Productions Intern. He honed a variety of skills with the Reds, from camera operation to producing pre-game and in-game video board material. A native of New Jersey, he has a degree in Broadcasting with a minor in Business.

Shari Krakauer is a new Marketing and Sales Assistant. She comes to the Hot Rods after spending 2008 as an intern with the Trenton Thunder (AA, Eastern League) in New Jersey, where she worked with both GM/CEO Brad Taylor and Assistant GM/Sales Greg Coleman. Her first few months with the Hot Rods will satisfy the course work for her degree from Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL. Upon graduation in April, Krakauer will earn a degree in Sports Management with a minor in Business. A native of Dix Hills, NY, she will remain in Bowling Green for the 2009 season.

Monday, January 12, 2009

#6 Kyeong Kang Statistics

Statistics for Kyeong Kang:

2008A-Hudson Valley28425438711576432061.280.338.465.803

2008A-Hudson Valley284254.1857.0%21.5%.34837%15%.343

Split Statistics with Hudson Valley in 2008:

Top 15 Hitters: #6 Kyeong Kang

Kyeong KangKyeong Kang
6'0'' 200 lbs DOB: 2/6/88
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
2008: Hudson Valley
Acquired: 2006, 15th round, 439th overall

One of the last ever draft-and-follow players(MLB put an end to that possibility with the 2007 draft), Kang has come along slowly so far, but he'll be sent to full-season ball in 2008 and is a breakout candidate, even controlling for the fact that he'll be 21 in low-A.

Originally from South Korea, Kang attended high school in Georgia and became the first from his native country to be drafted into professional baseball. He spent 2007 with Princeton before moving up to Hudson Valley in 2008. There, he hit .278/.338/.463, including 15 doubles, 7 triples, and 6 home runs. Also keep in mind that Hudson Valley's home stadium is generally regarded as a pitcher's park, and the statistics reflect that: At home, Kang's line was just .231/.312/.347; on the road, he hit .321/.363/.567. Of course the stadium isn't the only factor, but it'll be interesting to see how his splits are in Bowling Green next year(of course, we won't have much data to determine whether BG's home park leans hitter- or pitcher-friendly).

Kang doesn't have a standout tool, but he has above-average power and could develop into a 20-25 HR threat down the line. He probably won't be able to post .300 batting averages on a regular basis, but he gets his fair share of hits and will settle in the .270-.290 range each year. His on-base skills aren't anything special, and his walk rate actually regressed from '07 to '08. He has decent speed, but he's not a stolen base threat. And while he played CF for the Renegades, he'll have to shift to a corner outfield spot, where he'd be an above-average defender.

Kang will be old for his league again in 2009, and even if he hits very well, the Rays might leave him in the SAL the whole year. For me, the two things I want to see: a) his power continue to translate into games, and as a result, a 20-homerun season, and b) his walk rate improve while his strikeout rate stays the same, and for him to get his on-base percentage over .350.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Good News: Spring Training Ticket Update

Rays Spring TrainingThe Rays have sold out three spring training games and remaining tickets will be available at all outlets starting Saturday. Details from the Official Press Release:

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Rays' 2009 Spring Training season tickets will go on sale to the general public tomorrow at 9 a.m. at the box office at Charlotte Sports Park, all Ticketmaster outlets, the Rays Tampa Store at 400 N. Tampa St., Tropicana Field box office, via phone at 888-FAN-RAYS, or online at and

Through online sales only this week, the Rays have already sold out three home games at Charlotte Sports Park: February 27 and March 7 vs. the Red Sox and March 22 vs. the Yankees. Tickets to these games are available only as part of season ticket packages which can be purchased by calling 888-FAN-RAYS or visiting Those packages start at $240 for the 16-game home schedule.

In addition, only a limited number of reserve tickets are available for the remaining games on the Rays home spring schedule.

Updated: Rays 2009 Field Staff and Coordinators

Tampa Bay RaysMinor League Coordinators
Field Coordinator -- Jim Hoff
Pitching Coordinator -- Dick Bosman
Hitting Coordinator -- Steve Livesey
Outfield/Baserunning Coordinator -- Skeeter Barnes
Catching Coordinator -- Jamie Nelson
Medical Training Coordinator -- Mark Vinson
Rehabilitation and Athletic Training Coordinator -- Joel Smith
Strength and Conditioning Coordinator -- Trung Cao
Equipment Manager -- Tim McKechney
Assistant Equipment Manager -- Shane Rossetti

Durham Bulls (AAA)
Manager -- Charlie Montoyo
Pitching Coach -- Xavier Hernandez
Coach -- Dave Myers
Trainer -- Rodger Fleming

Montgomery Biscuits (AA)
Manager -- Billy Gardner, Jr.
Pitching Coach -- Neil Allen
Coach -- Ozzie Timmons
Trainer -- Lee Slagle

Charlotte Stone Crabs (A+)
Manager -- Jim Morrison
Pitching Coach -- Bill Moloney
Coach -- Joe Szekely
Trainer -- Chris Tomashoff

Bowling Green Hot Rods (A)
Manager -- Matt Quatraro
Pitching Coach -- R.C. Lichtenstein
Coach -- Hector Torres
Trainer -- Nick Medina

Hudson Valley Renegades (A-)
Manager -- Brady Williams
Pitching Coach -- Rafael Montalvo
Coach -- Michael Johns
Coach -- Manny Castillo
Trainer -- Scott Thurston

Princeton Rays (Rookie Advanced)
Manager -- Jared Sandberg
Pitching Coach -- Marty DeMerritt
Coach -- Rafael Deleon
Coach -- Dan DeMent
Trainer -- Andrew Hauser

Gulf Coast League Rays (Rookie)
Manager -- Joe Alvarez
Pitching Coach -- Darwin Peguero
Coach -- Ben Oglivie
Coach -- Reinaldo Ruiz
Trainer -- Jorge Vargas

Rays Notes

Tampa Bay RaysFormer Ray Dan Johnson has signed a one-year contract worth $1.2 million with the Yokohama BayStars of Japan's Central League. That's $700,000 more than Rocco Baldelli reportedly will receive in base salary from the Boston Red Sox.

Peter Toms has an excellent article at The Biz of Baseball detailing the growing relationships between Major League clubs and their minor league affiliates.

Tom Haudricourt reports at Baseball America that the Milwaukee Brewers were interested in Eduardo Morlan long before the Rule V Draft: "The Brewers originally tried to pry away Morlan from the Rays early in the 2008 season when they dealt outfielder Gabe Gross to Tampa Bay. At that point, the Rays did not want to part with the native of Cuba."

Jino Gonzalez may be in some trouble. The Rays 46th round pick in the 2002 draft, who pitched for the Montgomery Biscuits (AA) last year, was arrested January 4th at Tampa International Airport. He was charged with one count of carrying a concealed firearm and released the same day on a $2,000 surety bond. No court date has been set according to the Court's docket.

So far there are no Rays on Team USA's roster for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Provisional rosters are due January 16th and final rosters will be determined by February 24th.

Marc Lancaster reports the Rays have claimed Dewon Day off waivers from the Boston Red Sox. The Rays 40-man roster is now full.

RaysIndex reports that The Professor will be appearing in next week's season premiere of Friday Night Lights.

Rays Final Winter League Stats

Rays players final Winter League statistics:

Andrus, EroldVWL71142541313916.352.420.563
Aybar, WillyDWL5611164009515.286.355.357
Gimenez, HectorVWL20343681607442337.335.400.517
Hall, J.T.AFL7691822012922.237.314.316
Hughes, RhyneAFL1092043123527733.394.432.697
Jaso, JohnVWL487132017157.271.444.375
Jennings, DesmondAFL39792017410.231.326.359
Joyce, MattMPL12218361108281432.295.362.582
Otero, EliasPRL400000000.000.000.000
Martinez, GabrielPRL1111831915152125.279.407.514
Perez, FernandoVWL7315222427319.301.338.521
Spring, MattAFL574101029617.175.250.298
Suarez, CesarVWL86172241310414.256.319.430
Weber, JonMPL18024521404201739.289.350.433

Childers, JasonMPL907.011.573.
Hendrickson, BenVWL3210.16.104.554.468.
Hernandez, CarlosVWL10014.05.793.633.529.
Kelly, ChrisPRL21027.03.004.464.085.04.310.70.3
Mason, ChrisAFL13013.010.384.744.652.83.514.50.7
Mejias, Jose AngelVWL115.23.181.792.
Reid, RyanAFL10014.06.434.203.9711.64.510.31.3
Rodriguez, DerekAFL13012.24.262.652.659.
Salas, JuanDWL906.15.684.
Thayer, DaleMPL17017.16.235.805.717.
Townsend, WadeAFL3310.28.445.545.386.
Wlodarczyk, MikeAFL12013.07.625.975.1912.

AFL = Arizona Fall League, MPL = Mexican Pacific League, DWL = Dominican Winter League, VWL = Venezuelan Winter League, PRL = Puerto Rican League.