Monday, July 23, 2007


Wow. That was brutal. I think the Rays made the Yankees mad and the result wasn’t pretty. After beating New York 14-4 on Friday night the Rays from Tampa Bay proceeded to lose the next 3 games in spectacular fashion. During the long, looooong weekend they gave up 45 runs on 53 hits and turned Shelly Duncan into the second coming of Kevin Maas. Even their ace, James Shields, couldn’t escape the shelling as he gave up 10 runs in 3 innings on Sunday.

Adding to the misery were injuries to Jay Witasick and Carl Crawford. Witasick pitched with a bad elbow that swelled to the size of a golf ball by the end of the game. Today he was placed on the 15 day disabled list that could mean he’s spent his last days with the Rays. Crawford’s injury was described as a sprained left ankle and he isn’t expected to miss any significant time. Then again his wrist injury a few years ago wasn’t supposed to be a big deal either.

Several changes to the bullpen were made throughout the weekend. The latest were Witasick going on the DL and being replaced by Jason Hammel (who started the weekend on the major league roster and than was demoted Sunday before being recalled on Monday). Juan Salas was activated as well replacing JP Howell who’s brief return saw him surrender 7 runs in 5 innings in the second game of Saturday’s double header.

Also, making his return to the roster was Jae Kuk Ryu. The South Korean is set to work out of the bullpen during his second stint on the Rays roster. It will be interesting to see if he gets more work this time around. Also joining him is Scott Dohmann. Dohmann was effective in Durham holding hitters to a .211 average. If he is able to continue that in the major’s he could be a huge boost to the leagues worst bullpen.

These may not be the final changes to the Rays pitching staff. Several published reports (including the New York Post) have the Rays moving Ty Wigginton to the Yankees for relievers Scott Proctor or Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth could step in as a closer if Al Reyes is moved. Armed with a dominating (but ruler straight fastball) the former Yankee, Cub, Brave and Tiger has tantalized fans since 1999, but never lived up to his hype.

Proctor would be used as a set up man and should prove more reliable than the current cast of characters. The 30 year-old right-hander enjoyed his best season in 2006 when he appeared in 83 games and pitched to an ERA of 3.52.

The local beat writers have already begun lamenting trading Wigginton. John Romero fired the first shot in his column today stating that it is time to “pay more attention to the box score than the bottom line”. He mentions that Ty is one of the few players with a “fire in [his] belly” and that he wants to stay around.

That’s all well and good, but keeping him would severely tie the Rays hands as early as next season. The power hitting infielder already is a player without a true position. He’s not a natural 2nd baseman, or first baseman and has no shot of moving Aki Iwamura from 3rd. With the likelihood that super prospect Evan Longoria will be knocking on the doors in the majors next season there is even less room for Wigginton. His value is at an all time high.

It will be an interesting week leading up to the deadline. In looking at the current roster the Rays have several players that could fill the needs of certain teams.

Most Likely To Move

Ty Wigginton – Minnesota, New York (AL and NL), California and Los Angeles could all use more power in their line up.

Al Reyes – Every team in contention could use bullpen help with Cleveland and Boston leading the charge. If Octavio Dotel is garnering interest it shouldn’t be hard to move Reyes.

Might Move

Brendan Harris / Josh Wilson – a team like the Mets may be willing to drop a second tier prospect to add some infield depth to their roster.

Casey Fossum / Gary Glover – A long shot, but a team desperate for an arm might be willing to take a shot.

Won’t Move, well maybe….

Jon Gomes – Another player without a spot on the roster. His performance since being recalled may have intrigued some teams looking for power. His limited defensive skills may restrict him to the AL, but don’t count the Dodgers out. As we learned from last year the two organizations aren’t afraid to swap players.

Aki Iwamura – Before you think I’ve lost it, think for a minute. Aki proved he can hit major league pitching and he has shown Gold Glove ability in the field. As mentioned before super prospect Longoria may only be a season away. If Aki stays than one of them has to move. If the right deal comes a long (first tier prospect and a major league ready arm) the Rays may need to move him.

The Rays spend the rest of this week in Baltimore and their performance against their fellow AL East whipping boys will show what kind of team Joe Maddon has on his hands. Will they fold and slink on to another 100 loss year or will they rebound and keep fighting?

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