Now that we've reached the far side of Christmas, all of a sudden, Spring Training doesn't seem all that far away. We have the month of January to get through and a few dark, dreary days in February, but then our ordeal is over. The sun will be shining in Florida and Arizona, and baseball will be back. Good times are ahead.
With the end of the off-season now in sight, I'm sure not everyone is looking at the calendar and viewing our proximity to Spring Training as a good thing. For one, I still have a heck of a lot of writing to do for this year's off-season publication, "The Process Report 2011". Also, free agents are starting to realize that they only have a limited amount of time left to find a job for this next season. Hole are closing up on teams daily, as front-offices are feeling the same time crunch, leaving fewer and fewer jobs and bidders for the remaining few.
In that vein, yesterday Marc Topkin stole my idea for today's article, writing about the holes the Rays still need to fill and the players they could possibly acquire. Be sure to check it out - it's a very good look at where the Rays currently stand. This is the time of the year where Andrew Friedman can bargain shop, as players have less options and must settle for less money than they would have earlier in the off-season.
While Topkin already covered some names the Rays might focus on, I'd like to toss out some of our own. Many of the names we've already discussed around here, but we've yet to write the whole list out. It's a large list, but that's because it's best to not have your hopes pinned on one or two players; instead, I believe the Rays prefer to focus on a large set of similar players, seeing which ones they can get for the best bargain and which ones they might be willing to splurge on.
Under each category, I've broken players down into three categories: those that are top of the list but may be too expensive, those that have injury issues (denoted with an *), and those that are less than ideal but may be worth a flyer.
Jon Rauch (DRB info)
Kevin Gregg (DRB info)
Octavio Dotel (TPR profile)
Kelvim Escobar* (Would love to give him a shot, but no idea how his rehab is progressing.)
Chad Qualls (TPR info)
Todd Coffey (h/t bobr)
Hitters (DH or 1B Candidates)
Manny Ramirez (DRB write-up)
Russell Branyan* (Dock profile)
Again, feel free to nominate more names in the comments and we can add players to the list (or tell me which names to take off). I plan on updating this list as free agents sign, so we'll be able to keep track of where the Rays stand.