I've been swamped over the past couple days with some long-term projects, so there have been a few things I wanted to write about, but haven't had the time to do so. I wish I could flesh some of these out into longer posts for you, but for now, luckily there are plenty of awesome Rays writers out there:
The biggest news is that Andrew Friedman has been hitting the airwaves like a madman, having extended appearances on three local radio shows over the past few days. Friedman has made a number of interesting comments - including suggesting that he sees Dan Johnson as a 20 homerun, high on-base guy - but in my mind, the most intriguing tidbits come when he talks about the bullpen.
Friedman seemed legitimately disappointed that Rauch didn't decide to sign with the Rays, stating that they were involved and were surprised with his final decision. If that's the case, that's reassuring; at least the Rays were involved, and it's not as if Farnsworth was all they wanted to add. This also means it's not even as though the Rays "preferred" Farnsworth over Rauch (although that may be the case), but were interested in both and were able to sign him Farnsworth but not Rauch. That's disappointing, but that's how things go sometimes.
And now, Friedman is saying the Rays are pursuing a closer on the trade market. While I wouldn't hold my breath for anything to happen in the next couple days, this is exciting news for all of us dismayed by the remaining free agent relievers. The Rays do seem committed to adding these final few pieces, even if it takes longer than we were all hoping.
- Assuming the Rays are now looking on the trade market for closers, Tommy Rancel takes a look at who the Rays might target. I'd be excited about trading for any of the options he suggests (Francisco, Hanrahan, and Wuertz).
- If the Rays don't make a trade for a relief pitcher, the market keeps getting thinner and thinner. Todd Coffey has signed with the Nationals, so R.J. takes a look at the lone remaining solid free agent target: Chad Durbin. Hopefully it doesn't have to come to that, but he wouldn't be a bad back-up option.
- The Rays signed minor leaguer Daniel Mayora yesterday, and Rays Prospects has a write-up on him. It looks like he'll be competing for Elliot Johnson's old spot down in Durham.
- Jason Hanselman typically has awesome posts, but this one takes the cake. The document provided in his post allows you can make customized projections for each of the Rays' players, and then the document uses those projections to tell you how many games the Rays would likely win with that team. I'm very impressed, even if it somewhat steals the thunder of my Part Two on "Why the Rays Have a Shot in 2011". Give it a try - you may be surprised by how good our current roster is.
- The Ray Area is a new blog that started up last year, and it's affiliated with Rob Neyer's SweetSpot Network. In recent weeks, it's seemed like the site is really hitting its stride, and this article from yesterday on closers is great. I'm a bit confused by the math he used at the end, but the thought process behind the post is superb.
Yes, closer are overrated and it's much better allowing your best reliever to roam free, pitching in the highest leveraged situations. That's actually what the Rays have done in recent years; despite always having a "closer" in the back, they've also had J.P. Howell, Grant Balfour, or Joaquin Benoit ready to enter games in high-leverage spots. As bad as Percival was, at least we could give him a lead.
Now if only we could get more fans to realize this...