Here's what we've learned from our community wishlist: We need a shortstop and some arms in the pen. The most popular of players were catcher Damian Miller, shortstop Ronny Cedeno, and reliever Troy Percival at the same time as a whole we seem to be intrigued by Japanese relievers Kazuo Fukumori and Masahide Kobayashi as well as a plethora of shortstop options.
Perhaps the most intriguing option that popped up to me was Eric Gagne. The former Cy Young winner has been hit with steroid allegations and could be named in the soon to be released Mitchell Report, but despite that posted a good first half with the Texas Rangers before being traded to Boston. His agent is the notorious Scott Boras, and strategically the Rays could get into his favor by signing Gagne as a closer to a short term deal and re-sign Carlos Pena to a contract not seen by this organization since the Hit Show. Gagne's ERA jumped from 2.16 to 6.75 and his WHIP went from 1.05 to 1.87, clearly something went wrong there; the question becomes was this Gagne simply choking away on the largest stage he's played on -- even more so than Los Angeles -- or was he hiding another injury in hopes of not ruining a potential payday? Either way, adding Gagne gives the Rays quite a 7-8-9 inning combination with Dan Wheeler and Al Reyes providing the bridge.
The day before pitchers and catchers were set to report the Rays traded for Jae Kuk Ryu of the Chicago Cubs, we might see the same two teams hook up for similar deal this off-season. With that in mind the two top targets for the Rays and their six hole seem to be either a current or former Cubs' shortstop; Ronny Cedeno or Cesar Izturis. Neither present much of a hitting obstacle, but defensively and in terms of cost they're likely the most attractive on the market. Other options discussed include the Braves' Brent Lillibridge, the Dodgers' Rafael Furcal and Chin Lung Hu, the Yankees Alberto Gonzalez, the Angels' Orlando Cabrera, and possible import Tomohiro Nioka.
The one name that I'm shocked didn't pop up more? New homerun king Barry Bonds, talk about making a splash I could see the ESPN headlines now: "The Rays bring Devil back!" However like A-Rod he could make us money fast and get us exposure, not to mention what adding a potential .500 OBP to the lineup would do.
Ah the off-season, what a wonderful time.