A year ago the Rays landed Shinji Mori, a reliever who was supposed to be one of the answers in the bullpen. Things didn't work out and I personally hope Mori, who will be ready for Spring Training, can produce for the Rays. Though Mori's case of a labrum injury will be a very difficult one to overcome, the signing was more important on basis than what Mori actually did for the team.
Flash forward a year, the Rays are in contention for possibly landing Akinori Iwamura and as we found out today, actually placed a bid on Japanese `super stud' Daisuke Matsuzaka (number one on the west side.) Okay so we didn't win the services of the Seibu Lion ace, and personally I'm glad since I'm thinking he'll post a 4 + ERA next season, but we are making legit attempts at doing two things.
First off, we're trying to sign free agents, but more importantly we're looking in other places than just at the Major League Baseball free agency list to try and fill holes as well as just improve as a ball club.
Maybe even more-so than actually helping the team on the field is the help the team gets in the foreign news as well as from the Japanese advertisers. If Iwamura was to become, say....a good player for us, if only for one year, he'd still more than make up for the bidding costs (which is assumed at this point, we will find out Thursday the winner, and if we are that chosen party, the price tag.)
My view on the topic is that while I enjoy us partaking in these bids and it's just a really smart thing to do from the Rays perspective, I hate to keep beating a dead horse but Iwamura may only cost us 15 million for two or so years, he's won five gold gloves, has had 100 K seasons numerous times, but still finishes with averages around .300 and an OBP of close to .400, add in his 25+ homerun potential and his left handed bat, and can you safely assume a MLB player with all that on his résumé wouldn't make well more than just that?
Speaking of Asian imports...I really wish the Rays could get a hold of the bird flu and inject it into some of our charming media members. Spurting off rampant rumors that plain old make no sense (sign Mark Redman...hey, he's an all-star, which counts for something...right?) So to oppose these stupid rumors I say we go after Chan Ho Park. That's right, Chan Ho Park...see how stupid that is?
Sadly, that's about a day's work for some local media members who, let's be honest, shouldn't have a job. Let's not be fooled into thinking this is only a `Tampa' thing, I mean sure WDAE is fully of `never been' ex football players who spew off conspiracy theories left and right (actually, I received an e-mail, somebody told me that Joe Maddon doesn't like Jonny Gomes, that's' why he doesn't play....the shoulder? Just a cover-up.) so I ask the reader, who I'm sure has more common sense than your average Duem...bear, please don't listen to the idiots in the mainstream media for `rumors', generally if we don't report it, it's not true. C.C. rumors are widespread but unless something is `legit' we probably won't even bring it up, unless it's either to mock the writer or the idea itself...other than that we'll pretty much just turn the blind eye.
If Mike Butcher were to leave to replace Buddy Black in Anaheim would (as our own Jake wondered out loud to me) we consider bringing AA pitching coach Xaiver Hernandez up to replace him? I make the comparison that what Billy Evers is to the hitters on the team, Xaiver is the pitchers; both have worked with the majority of the roster.
A few tidbits to pass along, Ben Zobrist is up for the Stetson Award courtesy of the AFL. Elijah Dukes will have some `loose bodies' or otherwise known as bone chips removed from his knee, he will be back within a month's time, which makes the fact that nothing is being said about Jeff Niemann even clearer that Jeff is indeed fine. Jeff Ridgway has been automatic, in 9 IP, 0 ER, my money is on him beating out Jon Switzer (and possibly Casey Fossum) for the left-handed reliever out of the bullpen.