For those, like myself, just now catching up on the baseball world's happenings since Wednesday, go ahead and note that Kelvim Escobar is a New York Met.
Losing out on Escobar is a little disappointing. Mutual interest existed. I mean, he knew the name of the Rays newest relief acquisition. He was totally digging us. Of course he also held goo-goo eyes for many members of the New York Mets; including Henry Blanco and Francisco Rodriguez, of whom he now serves as the right-hand relief man. Why the Mets over the Rays? Beats me. Money, assurance of a Major League contract, and the demographics of the Mets clubhouse probably weighed in, but that's just speculation on my part.
The bad news is that a reliever cheaper than he should be is off the market. The good news is that almost every reliever on the market seems to be in danger of falling into that grouping. Some of the guys we've been pushing since the Rays playoff probability reached single digits are still around (Kiko Calero, Brendan Donnelly, and Joaquin Benoit) and the obvious trade targets remain (Mark Lowe and Jason Frasor) but one name that surfaces with a depression on prices is Octavio Dotel.
I have no reason to believe the Rays are interested in Dotel except for the fact that he fits the bill of what the Rays look for in relievers. He turned 36 recently and delivers the baseball from the right side of his 6' tall frame. A member of the White Sox pen over the last two seasons he split 2007 between Kansas City and Atlanta and was a member of the Yankees in 2006, albeit barely.
Dotel does not throw the baseball as fiercely as he did back in Houston. His heater still sits at 93 MPH and has good rise with a little run towards righties. He throws a cutter as well which is clocked a few ticks lower and compliments his low-80s slider well. Each pitch registered at least 8% whiffs with his slider coming in at nearly 19%, his fastball at 11%, and his cutter at 9%. He'll occasionally toss a curveball or change-up, but neither is a large part of his arsenal.
He's always gotten outs through means of sky delivery, but last year's 51.3% fly ball rate is a bit higher than most recent years and he's going to allow some homers. At times, Dotel has the tendency to lose the zone. Although, for the most part, double digit strikeout rates per-nine make up it. Dotel did gain Type-A status and Chicago decided against offering arbitration, opting instead to sign J.J. Putz.
Again, I'm not saying the Rays are or will be interested, but I can't blame them if they place a few phone calls his way between now and February.