Lately we've been blessed with gifts from Ohio, Marc Lancaster and Brendan Harris pop to mind, but come April it's very likely another Ray could be from the area, this time courtesy of the Cleveland Indians.
As we enter the beginning of the pre-season, leading on us on the slow trail towards the jubilation that is the regular season, let us take one more look at the central weak point of the 2006 Devil Rays...the bullpen, and now to what we've added...Scott Dohmann. Okay...okay...well I have this feeling, call it a hint if you must, that we'll be seeing another reliever or two added to the staff before April ends.
It began with the two interviews I did to introduce February, Marc Lancaster and Tim Dierkes, Lancaster's contribution to my feeling would come later on that week as he hinted at a possible move in his blog (via trade or waiver wire), Dierkes gave a list of relievers he would look at if he were Andrew Friedman / Gerry Hunsicker. I looked over it again today, as I often do older pieces with references within them, and looked up some of the peripherals and such so I'd have a better overall idea of what he would be looking at, well something struck me pretty quickly.
He listed a number of Cleveland Indian relievers, and after remember they added Joe Borowski, Keith Foulke, Aaron Fultz, and Roberto Hernandez it made perfect sense, at least a few of their relievers could be shipped away at a lesser value than they would at the trading deadline last season.
So I began looking over the Indians roster, looking for a match, and looking...and looking, and I really couldn't find one that would link the Rays and the Indians with a clear trade, at least not at the major league level, unless the Indians would want a pinch hitter like Greg Norton or Ty Wigginton, ect. or we could deal from our surplus of starters, but that made little sense as well. So I was left with the idea of us shipping a prospect to them for a reliever, or just signing the reliever off the roads.
Of course that's getting way too deep for this piece, so I'll keep the names, the stories, the stats, ect. and leave the move to the front offices. There are a number of relievers who I think we could acquire from the Indians for less than it would be expected to take, so let's run through a few of them.
Jason Davis, Matt Miller, Fernando Cabrera, and Rafael Betancourt come to mind. Now remember the Indians added those four relievers so it's possible that they could keep these four and that would make 8 relievers, 13 pitchers overall with their 5 man rotation, but that's highly unlikely considering other than their starting 8 they have a full time DH in Travis Hafner (9 position players so far, 22 overall), a backup catcher (23), Ryan Garko, (24), and David Delluci as a backup outfielder (25), not to mention Hector Luna as the utility infielder. So at least one of the relievers is on the outs.
Going purely by usage last season it appears Miller would be the one getting the boot (15 innings, 3.45 ERA), add in his age, 35, and he appears to be the least favorable of the four. Jason Davis seems like the safest, he's 26, threw 55 innings with a 3.7 ERA, but his H/IP show that he probably was more lucky than good with that ERA. Fernando Cabrera posted a 5.19 ERA in 60 innings, and would likely be a steal, he's 25 and posted a 3.9 ERA in the second half. Finally we reach Betancourt, 31, he posted a 3.81 ERA in 56 innings, but has spent the last few seasons between the majors and the minors.
As unpopular as I may be with these thoughts, I'd be happy with any of the four, whether that means we go all boy band on Dohmann and say `bye-bye-bye', or signing one of them to a MiLd, either way it's good. Miller has a career ERA of 2.74, and is one of those great undrafted stories that bursted onto the scene a little too late to make a career of being....well Chris Ray before Chris Ray was Chris Ray.
I asked Ryan Richards of the SBN Indians blog, Lets Go Tribe about the possibility and he informed me with the trade of Aaron Brown, and the DFA'ing of Jeremy Guthrie the team won't be in a position where a reliever will be designated for assignment, he added that Miller does indeed have an option remaining, so even that won't be a problem, Betancourt is nearly guaranteed a job, and Davis is the early leader for the 7th reliever spot, with all that being said it still remains possible that one of the players could be had.
Other options that could be available include the Nationals Jon Rauch, the Giants' Armando Benitez, the Rangers' Akinori Otsuka, the Padres' Scott Linebrink, and Rauch's teammate, Chad Cordero.
Now which of the quartet do I actually see ending up as a Ray? Well the name has been sticking with me, and there's just something about it that seems natural or like I've had a case of déjà vu, but I have the feeling that come April we will see Rafael Betancourt in green.
I apologize for the `Drew Carey Show' like title, but it was much better than `Indian Giver'...right?