Sunday, November 28, 2010

Getting Through the Winter

People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.

Rogers Hornsby

For those who may be stopping by looking for a baseball fix, here's a couple of links to keep you going:

Rays Prospects is starting an analysis of their 30 top prospects in the system. Those on the list we haven't seen already, we have a good chance of seeing in the future.

Over on Rays Index, Cork Gaines recently summarized various trade rumors.

Several days ago the Rays did some maneuvering around with their 40-man roster to protect a few youngsters from the "Rule 5" draft. See the items at DRaysBay and theSt Pete Times. Of interest to Bulls fans is that Aneury Rodriguez has not been "protected". That implies that the Rays think they can get along without him if another team wants him badly enough.

As a reminder, Rays Prospects is keeping track of Rays players playing winter ball.

Lastly, for the truly desperate baseball junkies who might be passing by, here's a lead on the reorganization of the Independent Leagues.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2010 Moonlight Graham Awards

It’s time, at last, to announce this year’s winners of the Moonlight Graham Award.

The Moonlight Graham Award is given each year to the ballplayers (hitter and pitcher) who spent the least amount of time in a Durham Bulls uniform. In the interest of fairness (not that fairness is really an abiding interest here at WDBB) we have established a few criteria for our selection. We exclude players who participated only in playoff games, players who passed through Durham on a rehab assignment, and (for the pitcher award) we exclude position players who pitched in late innings to save the bullpen for another day.

The 2010 winners are:

Position Player

Catcher Craig Albernaz

Although he spent most of the playoffs with the Bulls, his only regular season appearance was way back on April 14, at Gwinnett. He went 1 for 4 that day. Craig has faced an uphill battle in the Rays organization for the last couple of years, but we have always admired his spirit and his very pretty snap throws to first and second base. Wouldn’t mind seeing him with the Bulls in 2011.


Right-handed Reliever Justin Garcia

In fact, Garcia never quite made it to Durham. Back in June, when the Bulls were in Indianapolis, he came up from Montgomery, appeared in two games in relief, 4 2/3 innings, and then was sent to Charlotte, Florida. He spent July in Florida then went back to Montgomery to end the season. We have never seen him pitch.

Congratulations to Craig and Justin!

About “Moonlight” Graham

Archibald Graham achieved lasting and national fame as a character in the W.P. Kinsella novel, Shoeless Joe, and then became even more famous when he was played by Burt Lancaster (and Frank Whaley) in the Kevin Costner film, Field of Dreams. As a ballplayer he got two innings in the major leagues as a right fielder for the New York Giants in 1905. He never came to bat.

The interest here is that he was a North Carolina native (born in Fayetteville, grew up in Charlotte); graduated from UNC (where he played baseball); and was the older brother to UNC President and US Senator Frank Porter Graham. If you find him an intriguing character, the Wikipedia article is a good start. Then there’s a nice NBC piece done on him a couple of years ago. And a terrific book by Fayetteville writer (and Bulls fan) Brett Friedlander and Robert Reisling, Chasing Moonlight. Copies of the book are in the Wake County Library system and I found my copy at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh just last week.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Minor League Free Agents and the Durham Bulls

As careful readers of WDBB will know, we are less than knowledgable regarding the ins and outs of the business of professional baseball, but we’re tryin’.

In that regard, we have the recent report in RaysProspects that lists Rays minor leaguers who have “qualified” for free agency. What does that mean? Follow the link to find a helpful (?) quote from Rule 55. But here’s my understanding — these players can now do a deal with anyone they want to, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

So here are 2010 Durham Bulls who are now free agents. It’s quite a list:


  • Winston Abreu
  • Joe Bateman
  • Jason Cromer
  • Richard De Los Santos
  • Darin Downs
  • Carlos Hernandez
  • Bobby Livingston
  • Heath Phillips
  • Brian Shouse
  • R.J. Swindle
  • Dale Thayer
  • Virgil Vasquez

Position Players:

  • Alvin Colina
  • Angel Chavez
  • Joe Dillon
  • Chris Richard
  • Rashad Eldridge

Does this mean that none of these guys will be back? No, not really. It just means that their 2010 (and earlier) contracts have run out. Many (most) of these guys were minor league free agents at the beginning of 2010. Obviously, WDBB would be happy to see all of the position players back, and most of the pitchers. This crew did just fine by Durham last year.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Elliot Johnson Back on Rays' 40-Man

At the beginning of the 2010 season Elliot was passed through waivers and landed with the Bulls for all of the year. And a terrific year it was. Now, according to reports out of St. Petersburg, he's back on the 40-man. Elliot is playing winter ball down in Mexico at the moment. This should brighten his day.

Marc Topkin in the St. Petersburg Times:

The Rays also selected the contract of INF Elliot Johnson and put him back on their 40-man roster. He was taken off the roster at the end of spring training since he was out of options and wasn’t going to make the team, then cleared waivers and had a strong season at Triple-A Durham.

Ray's Press Release:

In another move, the Rays selected utility player Elliot Johnson and added him to the 40-man roster. Johnson hasn’t appeared in the Majors since 2008, when he had 19 at-bats during a seven-game stint with the club after making the Opening Day roster.

Johnson, 26, was named Most Valuable Player and an International League All-Star for Durham in 2010. He hit a career-high .319, which ranked fourth in the IL and third among Rays Minor Leaguers, with 11 home runs and 30 stolen bases. He appeared in 109 games at shortstop, second base, left field and right field. The switch-hitter has spent all nine seasons of his professional career in the Rays’ organization.

Monday, November 1, 2010

More Bulls Below the Border

Several more current/prospective Durham Bulls are showing up in the winter leagues. Jim Donten over at Rays Prospects is doing a terrific job with daily coverage of how they are doing, so I won’t repeat that here. However, to add to the list originally reported, catchers Jose Lobaton and Dioner Navarro, and pitchers Brian Baker, Joe Bateman, Carlos Hernandez, and Aneury Rodriguez are spending time in Mexico, Venezuela, and the Dominican.

For a glimpse of the life, keep an eye on Nicole Johnson's blog, Life of the Baseball Wife, which has a entry on a Mexican League game and another on what it's like to be called up for the playoffs.