Links and News: Andruw Jones, J.P. Howell, Grant Balfour, Jose Veras

With the Kyle Farnsworth hubbub yesterday, some smaller news items slipped through the cracks:

  • Last night, Jon Heyman tweeted that the Yanks and Rays are both in on Andruw Jones. Personally, I'd still rather target a hitter like Manny or Vlad, but Jones would not be a bad option as a DH. After having some down years, Jones rebounded last season by hitting 19 homeruns in only 328 plate appearances, and his walk rate was a robust 13%. He may not be the ideal signing, but he'd be a good power hitter for cheap. For more on him, check out Tommy Rancel's piece.
  • Marc Topkin reported yesterday that J.P. Howell is feeling great, has put on weight, and expects to be pitching for the Rays by late April / early May. If that timetable turns out to be correct, that'd be a huge boost for the Rays' bullpen. While Howell will likely be brought along slowly, him missing only the first month of the season would be better than I think most of us were expecting.
  • Topkin also mentioned in an article today that Grant Balfour may return to the Rays on a one-year deal, with the understanding that they not offer him arbitration after next season. While I'd prefer to not lose those draft picks, I'd also love to get another year from Balfour.
  • The Rays are one of many teams to offer Jose Veras a minor league deal, and R.J. Anderson has the write-up. Veras won't light the world on fire, but he'd add relief pitching depth to our high minors. 
  • I found this article on Matt Bush really interesting. He's been through a heck of a lot, but it sounds as though his life is finally back on track. It's tough to say how fast the Rays move him along, but I really hope he succeeds and does well enough to get a shot in the majors. It's tough to root against him.
  • I miss Fernando Perez already. Sigh. For old time's sake:

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