In a few days major league rosters will be expanded and teams will begin the process of calling up their players from AAA. Some players will get the call as a reward for a good season in AAA, some are prospects that will get their first taste of major league life, and some will be called up to play a role in a teams quest for the post-season.
The Rays will have a few players to choose from, but the one player that seems to spark the most robust discussion is Russ Canzler. I wrote an article back on July 22nd where I asked if it was Canzler Time in Tampa Bay? At the time I wrote the article, the main roadblocks were not his performance in AAA, they seemed to be whether or not the Rays would add him to the 40 man roster (which may of had space if a July 31st trade were made) and what position would he play. Those two hurdles along with timing and economics remain in his way as September 1st rolls around.
Joe Maddon said before tonight's game that the roster expansion will come in two tiers. 1-3 players will be called when rosters expand and a second tier will be called up when the Bulls are out of the playoffs. Will Canzler be a tier 1 or tier 2 guy or will he never get the call?
Timing is Everything: International League Playoffs
The first assumption I am going to make is that Russ Canzler will at the minimum finish the season with the Durham Bulls.
The Bulls are currently in first place in the International Leagues South Division with a record of 77-57 and have a magic number of 7 to clinch a playoff spot. The International League Playoffs begin September
17th 7th and depending on how deep the Bulls go can extend until September 17th. If the Bulls were to win the International League Championship they would play the winner of the Pacific Coast League Champion on September 20th.
The Extra 2%: September Callups Earn Major League Money
The average minimum salary for a major leaguer in 2011 is $415,000 and the 2011 season is 180 days long. This means that the pro-rated salary for each callup is $2,305.00 per day that the player is on the active roster. Let's assume that the Rays do decided to call up Canzler on September 1st, that would translate into $64,500 to Canzler for the duration of the season. Not a huge payday, but not exactly the type of money the Rays organization will throw around to give a guy a handful of at bats.
The cost of the callup is another reason I don't see the Rays calling up many of the Durham Bulls unless they have a definite need on the major league roster (injury) or the player that is called up will make a significant contribution to the playoff push. (Joe Maddon has said the Rays will call up 1-3 players on September first, which will run the Rays somewhere in the neighborhood of $65K - $180K. Who will those three players be?)
The Roster Shift
Russ Canzler is currently not on the Rays 40 man roster. The Rays could transfer Cobb from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list but I don't believe the Rays are going to roster juggle to accommodate Canzler.
Where Does Canzler Play?
Barring an injury where does Canzler get his at-bats? He has played in the OF 61 games, 3b 40 games, 1b for 17 games, and DH for 6 games. If the Rays had plans on making Canzler an alternative option at 1b I believe the organization would've had him playing there a bit more often. He isn't going to come up and spell Evan Longoria at 3b or take time in the OF away from DJ/Joyce/BJ/Fuld.
I believe if the Rays did need an extra OF they would turn to Justin Ruggiano or Brandon Guyer who both are already on the 40 man roster. If the Rays were to need a first baseman due to injury, I believe the Rays would turn to Dan Johnson (Extra 2%) as they will pay him the same whether he is in Durham or Tampa. With so many games in mid to late September against NY and Boston, I wouldn't mind seeing the Rays make the Alex Cobb to the 60-day DL move and add him back to the roster. And as I was writing this up BWoodrum contributed this to a post:
DAN JOHNSON FAN CLUB UPDATE:
When we last left the Dan Johnson fans, he was brushing off a sub-par May through June quasi-slump with a dandy little start to the August offering, bashing two early home runs.
Well, the August hot spell has turned into A PROPER HEAT WAVE:
August: .431 wOBA, 5 HR, and enough to push his season wOBA+ to 111.
Does Canzler Deserve a Callup:
Yes, Canzler deserves at bats at the major league level. He has been a good soldier playing both corner outfield positions and infield positions and all he has done is hit. He is a power hitting right handed bat that could help the Rays down the stretch. He sports a .313 average, a .399 OBP, a .536 SLG% (OPS of .935). He also carries a .410 wOBA, a 158 wRC+, and an ISO of .223. He has struck out at a 23.3% rate but his walk rate is at 12.1%. He has 60 extra base hits on the season including 39 doubles, 2 triples, and 18 home runs in 541 plate appearances.
Canzler has done everything he can to find his way up to the big league club, but the combination of not being on the roster, economics, and lack of a place to put him may inhibit the Rays from calling him up for the September run.
Personally, I'm a sucker for the underdog and would love to see the Rays find a way to get Canzler up. I wouldn't look for Canzler prior to the Bulls being eliminated from the playoffs and if that occurs too early the Rays may feel the cost of carrying Canzler may be too much to bear.