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Stark: Rays Looking for "Next J.P. Howell"

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Catch some Rays: Contrary to what we (and others) have been reporting, we're now hearing that the Rays aren't necessarily shopping for bullpen help. Clubs that have talked to them say they're shopping for "upgrades." And those upgrades aren't exclusively bullpen upgrades or even big-league upgrades. They'd also prefer long-term upgrades over short-term upgrades. So what they're looking for in the bullpen, in other words, is the next J.P. Howell, not the next Eric Gagne. And they've been asking about the potential availability of young corner outfielders, as opposed to the Jermaine Dyes of the world, an indication they clearly think they can live, for now, with the .805 OPS and excellent defense they've been getting from their Gabe Gross/Gabe Kapler/Ben Zobrist rotation in right.

I guess Jon Heyman's report about the Rays "wanting a closer" is false or at least not 100% accurate. There's a few ways to take this report. Some will resort to saying the Rays are quitting on 2009 and focusing on the future, others are going to commend the Rays for avoiding tunnel vision. The interesting thing, more so than looking for potentially undervalued pitchers/prospects, is the corner outfield mention. A few scenarios pop to mind, but I'd rather not expand on baseless conjecture.