With a few weeks left from the start of the regular season and the Rays rosterbation slowing down, its worth a quick fly around to see what the outlook is for the former Rays who have left the team over the past three seasons. Let' take this from the most recent exoduses and head back through 2008 over a series of posts.
With all the talk of a willingness to play centerfield and leadoff if that's what the Red Sox desired from him, it seems like Crawford is likely going to be in his familiar situation of playing left field and batting 2nd for the Sox. His bat and speed are dangerous wherever, but I am happy he will be in left where his incredible range will be mitigated at home by the Green Monster while also leaving his average-at-best arm exposed.
Pena will look to rebound from a very rough 2010 with the Cubs. He seems to be slotted for fifth in the order and has had a pretty solid Spring, something he has struggled to do in recent years. Pena is 11-37 with 2 home runs, while also drawing six walks.
Garza is slotted third in the Cubs rotation behind Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano. Garza will be in the easier league but will have to adjust to pitching in front of an inferior defense and life as a flyball pitcher in a home-run park. Spring stats mean little, even less for pitchers but as an FYI, Garza's line is 13 hits, 7 walks, 8 strikeouts, and 12 earned runs in 10.2 innings pitched.
Soriano is up to his usual Spring shenanigans of avoiding divisional opponents by hiding in minor league games. He's put in three innings with the varsity to date. This concerned me last year, but he proved he knew what he was doing. Soriano will be violently untucking his shirt after the 8th inning this year.
Benoit has been lights out this Spring with seven clean frames with 10 strikeouts allowing just two hits and three walks. Benoit will take his 8th inning act to Detroit, where he will be paired with Jose Valverde. Benoit will likely never repeat 2010, but his stuff shouldn't be questioned. His health on a 3-year-deal is a very valid reason for concern.
Balfour will be pitching in middle relief for the Athletics behind Andrew Bailey and Brian Fuentes. The A's have a loaded pen. Balfour is a flyball pitcher who is fairly skilled at avoiding home runs. His new ballpark will play right into this strength. Balfour has put up awful Spring stats the past two years, and 2011 is no exception. 11 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, and 8 earned runs in 6 innings. I would suggest ignoring those numbers.
The Red Sox seem to have Wheeler slated for middle relief, and likely in a role larger than a strict ROOGY. Wheeler's numbers against lefties last year were far better than his career norms, likely due to the fact Joe Maddon had him avoid the dangerous ones. Wheeler is sure to bring the long ball loving chickadees to the park as his home run tendencies should play up beautifully in Fenway. Dan Johnson eagerly awaits.In 4.1 innings of work this Spring Wheeler has allowed 8 hits with one leaving the yard, while striking out three and walking none.
After reigniting his career with the Rays, Choate will take his situational leftiness down south to the Marlins. There is no need to look at his Spring numbers, as he likely has faced a far greater percentage of right-handers than he will during the season. Here is a fun look at the superstitions and idiosyncrasies of Randy Choate.
2008 team MVP Jason Bartlett is moving in to the team that originally drafted him, the San Diego Padres. San DIego gave Bartlett a 2 year $11 million deal to man the shortstop position for them. On the wrong end of 30, there were some concerns Bartlett's defense had slipped considerably. For those who criticized the local media for their love of all things MVB, I'm unsure whether it helps or hurts that the feeling out in California is the same:
Bartlett has certainly poured himself into baseball. He is considered one of the game’s top defensive shortstops.
There is no doubt Burrell left a sour taste in the mouth of Rays fans after resurrecting his career with the San Francisco Giants following his $9 million release. The pain of Burrell winning a World Series ring was eased by his 0-13 with 11 strikeout performance against the Rangers. The Giants re-upped with Burrell for $1 million so he can continue to "patrol" the corner outfield.
Kapler signed a minor league deal with an invite to Spring with the Dodgers. Kapler has a line of .268/.329/.420! this Spring which is his highest OPS by over .250 in the past 3 Springs. He appear to be a longshot to make the opening day 25-man, though the Doders have reportedly been impressed by his leadership skills.
Navi signed a one year deal with the Dodgers. This Spring he has line of .258/.294/.323. Navarro is likely to serve as the backup behind the plate to Rod Barajas, but he will being the season on the disabled list with a strained (or missing) oblique.
Nando was sent to the Cubs in the Garza deal and resumed his project as a switch hitter after a year off. Fernando has struggled mightily this Spring with a line of .161/.257/.161 in 35 plate appearances. Perez has been optioned down to AAA to begin the season.
Cormier signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers, but refused assignment when LA wanted the final bullpen spot to go to Scott Elbert. It remains to be seen whether Cormier's power play will be successful. Cormier has hurled 5.2 innings striking out four, walking one and allowing nine hits.
Qualls signed with the Padres netting the Rays a compensatory draft pick due to his Type B status. Qualls will likely handle low leverage situations with the chance to move up or take on groundball situations due to his sinker. Qualls has struck out nine, walked four, and allowed eight hits in eight innings this Spring.
Gorgen was the Rays closer in AA last season before being traded for Qualls at the deadline. Gorgen got in one inning of work for Arizona before succumbing to arm trouble. Gorgen will need to undergo Tommy John Surgery.
Hawpe signed with the Padres also giving the Rays a compensatory pick in June. Hawpe will be the Adrian Gonzalez's replacement at first base and has a nice line of .314/.400/.486 this Spring.
WIlly Aybar, Hank Blalock, Rocco Baldelli
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