After a few days and a few hours of speculation, what was first reported on this site early this morning is official; the Rays have called up Hank Blalock. To make room for Blalock, Pat Burrell has been designated for assignment.
We've spoke at length on Blalock in recent days. His career OPS against righties of .846 is a shinny number - especially compared to the production from the DH spot over the last year plus. Not to rain on Blalock's parade, but that OPS against righties has been just .740 over the past three seasons.
That said, I'm all for giving Blalock an opportunity. He seems healthy, and mashed down in Durham. The comparisons to Carlos Pena will come, and there are some similarities, but expecting 2007 Pena like production is unfair. However, if he does, I'll accept that. All along, I have maintained if Blalock becomes the next Eric Hinske or Ty Wigginton, I'll by glad with that..
As for Pat Burrell, there isn't much I can say that hasn't already been said, but here we go.
In my opinion, the Burrell signing is classified as a good process/bad result. The Rays needed a DH for the 2009 season, and their first choice was Bobby Abreu. The team went as far as offering Abreu a two-year deal when every other team offered one. For whatever reason, Abreu picked the Angels and the Rays moved on to Burrell.
At the time, a Burrell/Rays marriage seemed perfect. Even now-Rays employee, Peter Bendix called it a "steal of a deal." Burrell was a right-handed power bat that excelled at hitting left-handed pitching; two areas that the Rays could use upgrades at. Two-years and $16 million dollars for Pat the Bat seemed like an absolute bargain considering his 2008 salary was nearly $16 million alone.
Meanwhile, we now know the Bat didn't accompany Pat Burrell to Tampa Bay. Whether there was something in the numbers everyone missed, or something in scouting reports nobody saw, I don't know. But I do know that not many thought things ending this poorly.
In every bad there is some good. For all the genius moves Andrew Friedman has made, the Burrell signing will be looked upon by some as epic failure. However, as we saw with the Troy Percival deal, Friedman is a quick learner. It is almost certain that we will not see a free agent reliever signed to a long-term deal any time soon - unless he is truly elite - and in that case he'll likely be too pricey. Going forward, I'm willing to bet if the Rays sign an aging DH-type, it will be on a year-to-year basis.
Friedman signed the deal, so there is some blame to be had. On the other hand, I take solace in the fact that he has admitted his mistakes (Burrell DFA, sending Percy home), and that his though process remains sound.
Good luck to Pat Burrell in whatever life holds for him next. And welcome Hank Blalock. Your time, sir, is now!
Ed. Note: Hat tip to our own FreeZorilla for breaking the story. In this age of instant information, it is hard to decipher what is truth and what is rumor, and Zo made the correct call. For a non-mainstream media outlet, any scoop is a risky one. For all the correct stories we have broken over the years, it takes only one bad one to wipe all credibility away. Meanwhile, a larger outlet can be wrong multiple times, but hey who's counting. Afterall, we're just fans, bloggers, internet chatter-ers. Job well done, Zo