After talking with Ryan Theriot and Jeff Keppinger recently, the Rays finally signed a backup utility infielder: Will Rhymes. As Tommy Rancel notes over at ESPN Florida, Rhymes is built in a similar mold as Theriot: he's a contact hitter with low power and a good walk rate, although his infield defense is at best average. He primarily played second base for the Tigers last season, but he's played all over the diamond in the minor leagues and the Rays will likely use that flexibility as much as possible.
The Rays signed Rhymes to a minor league deal, so he's cheap and can easily be demoted to the minors if he doesn't win a roster spot in spring training. He will likely be competing with Elliot Johnson for the utility infield roster spot, and it could be a close race. Johnson seems to be the better defender of the two, but Rhymes has more offensive upside and is a weapon on the base paths.
Rhymes is outgoing and slightly eccentric, which should help him fit in well in the Rays clubhouse. He runs a vocal Twitter account (@willrhymes), and much like Kelly Shoppach's obsession with Starbucks, he's a Chipotle connoisseur. Luckily for him there's a Chipotle not too far away from the Trop, so he'll be able to get his fix whenever he needs it.
Everyone got your #LegendofWillRhymes hastag ready to go? I could easily see Rhymes becoming a fan favorite if he makes the club, so we'll have to see how things shake out this spring.
- In other news, the Indians are still interested in Carlos Pena and Casey Kotchman. It's okay, Indians - I know you don't want to steal away our first baseman, but it's seriously okay to sign Kotchamn. He deserves lots of money and a multi-year deal after his 2011 season, don't you think? We'll just have to make due with Pena, I suppose.
- As pointed out in a thread yesterday, Johnny Gomes is going to be on the same team as Coco Crisp? I can't say I saw this coming.
- So Fausto Carmona is the latest player to get exposed as playing under a false identity. His real name is Roberto Hernandez Heredia, and he's actually 31 years old. Personally, I'd prefer to keep calling him Fausto; it's such a unique name. I feel bad for all the Latin American players that feel they need to hide their identity and age in order to rise above their surroundings and reach the majors.
- Looking for stats on the Dominican Winter League? There's a whole new site (Beisbol Data) dedicated to that, and it looks awesome.