Today's been quite the busy day for news. There haven't been any trades or free agent signings, but there are four or five different things that could be worth their own individual post and analysis. I'll attempt to cover them all briefly:
- Rays release 2011 ticket prices. There isn't anything too radical with this announcement: parking for carpoolers is still free, you can still bring your food in, and prices have dropped slightly for the majority of tickets. For a bit more analysis on this, check out what Jason Collette wrote up earlier today.
Nevin Ashley, Dane De La Rosa, Alex Cobb, Albert Suarez added to the Rays 40-man roster. Tomorrow is the deadline to add players before the Rule 5 draft, so the Rays needed to add these players in order to protect them from being taken by other teams. I had definitely pegged Alex Cobb as someone the Rays should protect, but I'm interested by the other names.
Nevin Ashley has risen through the Rays system and is turning into quite the (back-up) catcher; he still doesn't have high upside - especially with the hat - but he should be solid defensive catcher in Triple-A this season. De La Rosa is an old farmhand (27 years old) that just reached Double-A this season, but he was dominant during this time there (75 Ks in 73 IP). And Albert Suarez is young and pitched most of the season in Single-A, but he has some good upside. He's the name that most intrigues me most - why add him to the 40-man? He just finished recovering from Tommy John surgery, so do the Rays think he could stick in the majors right now?
Oh, and for the second year in a row, the Rays declined to protect Aneury Rodriguez, otherwise known as the pitcher we received for Jason Hammel. I wouldn't be surprised if some other team in need of pitching snatches him up; despite his unimpressive K/BB ratio (94 K / 48 BB in 113 IP), he's likely good enough to be worth a try in the bullpen somewhere.
- Jose Ruiz had his option declined and was released. This news surprises me. All outside indications suggest that Ruiz has good upside and most of us here were more excited about him than Leslie Anderson. Ruiz performed well in the minors this year, showing good plate discipline (.358 OBP in Double-A) and a little bit of power as well (.468 SLG in both Double- and Single-A). However, his power didn't show in Double-A (.348 SLG) and it also hasn't appeared in the Arizona Fall League (.375 SLG). I haven't heard that many scouting reports on him, but apparently the Rays decided he was too far from the majors to be worth the couple million dollars on his option.
Friedman: "We are always open-minded, but we're not in a hurry to detract from one of our biggest strengths [starting pitching]." Friedman recently had those words to share with Cork over at Rays Index, so there are a couple ways we can read into this. One, it's possible Friedman is just postuing. "We don't need a $7M closer," anyone? But two, it's possible that the Rays aren't actively trying to trade Matt Garza; maybe the market isn't what the Rays would like and so they're not going to go out of their way to trade a starter. I'm sure they'd jump on the right deal if it came along, but the Rays can reduce their payroll significantly while still holding onto Garza. There's always the trade deadline and we all know how desperate contenders can be for pitching then.
If that's the case, then the question becomes what to do with our six major-league ready starters. Does someone move the bullpen? Do we start Hellickson in Triple-A again? Questions questions...this waiting game is the worst part of the off-season.