Saturday, January 29, 2011

Two More to Watch/Think About

The Rays signed a first baseman to a minor league contract and picked up a pitcher off of waivers. |The Durham Bulls|

Casey Kotchman has great defensive stats and below so-so batting numbers (stats), but he's a local (i.e., St Petersburg) guy. He's also the first among the signees who might be considered a threat to Chris Richard's job at first base. I'd hoped that Chris would be at the Raleigh Hot Stove League gathering the other night, but he wasn't. So I wasn't able to ask him if he was going to be back in a Bulls uniform this year. Kotchman and Leslie Anderson are, so far, the only first basemen with invitations to spring training likely to be headed in the direction of Durham. |The Process Report|

Rob Delaney is out of the Twins system and we probably saw him pitching for Rochester last year. But, to be honest, I have no memory of him. Pretty good minor league stats as a reliever. Because of the way waiver claims work, he's got to go on the Rays 40-man, which means that with the Damon/Ramirez signing, a couple of current Rays are on the cusp of being waived/traded as this is being written. |The Process Report|

Here's the current Rays 40-man roster. Who would you put on waivers to make room for Damon and Ramirez?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Roster Projections, Chris Archer, Jake McGee, and More

Another good day for a bit of surfing around —

Over at Rays Index, Cork Gaines has put up his 25-man and 40-man roster projections. As is often the case, some really interesting stuff in the footnotes. Pleased to see that he's got Justin Ruggiano still in the running.

DRaysBay takes the approach of projecting prospect locations in various Rays' affiliates. There are some interesting names; however the approach of looking only at prospects doesn't tell Bulls fans much about what the full Bulls roster might look like this year.

Over at The Process Report, R.J. Anderson takes a look at Jake McGee. Our little section of the stands did a good bit of guessing about Mr. McGee last year since it seemed to us that the Rays had decided he was to be a reliever/closer. And that was the only thing he did with the Bulls and the Rays last year. But maybe not. Anderson seems to think that the decision has not yet been made. That could mean that the Bulls begin the season with three potential superstar starters. Now that would be fun to watch.

Chris Archer, former hot Cubs prospect, now in Rays system, and local (Clayton) product was at the Raleigh Hot Stove League gathering the other night. Very articulate and personable young man. Interesting interview with Neil Solondz here and one from the St. Petersburg Times here.

Lastly, a few more non-roster invitees have been announced. Very pleased the see Craig Albernaz and Brian Baker on the list. As careful readers know, WDBB likes Craig a lot even if he didn't get to spend much time with the Bulls last year. In fact, he won the 2010 Moonlight Graham Award. Great that he will be getting another look by the Rays. Brian Baker had a terrific season with the Bulls in 2010. Would be happy to see him back with the Bulls in 2011.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Desmond Jennings ... and more ...

A bit of web surfing today led to a couple of interesting items I thought worth passing on:

Over on DRaysBay "FreeZorilla" makes the argument that Desmond Jennings and the Rays would be better off if Jennings started the season with the Durham Bulls. I think this piece is the first time (other than here and, I think, one of Adam Sobsey's posts over at IndyWeek) I've seen someone mention that Mr. Jennings really didn't have all that good a year in 2010. Worth a look. |DRaysBay|

Saturday we (and others) were wondering if Justin Ruggiano might be left out in the cold. Tommy Rancel has a piece on The Process Report where he takes a look at a prospective lineup for the Rays. Guess who doesn't even get mentioned? Does not look good, from the webworld prospective, for Justin and the Rays/Bulls this year. |The Process Report|

There's a new blog out there that promises to be keeping an eye on the Durham Bulls this year. Rays Baseball Factory. Blogger David Bloom apparently lives in the Triangle area and has a deep interest and blogging experience with the Rays. Great. The more the merrier, especially someone who appears to have a handle on all this twitter/facebook stuff about which I am willfully ignorant. |Rays Baseball Factory|

Lastly, for those interested in delving into the world of garfooses (or is it "the garfoose"?) there's Dirk Hayhurst's blog. He's on his way to Rays' spring training. Outside chance that he will show up here. Would be fun if he did. |Dirk Hayhurst|

Saturday, January 22, 2011

More Players Signed to Minor League Contracts

Down in the Tampa Bay area they are obsessing about Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez. See, for example, Marc Topkin of the St Pete Times.

Up here, however, we are more interested in less flashy/famous players. As has been mentioned here before, the 2011 Durham Bulls will be mostly drawn from players on the Tampa Bay 40-man who don’t make the 25-man active list out of spring training and the players with a “non-roster invitation” to spring training. We mentioned some possibilities in an earlier post here. And most of the players in the Garza trade have a shot, as was discussed here.

The Rays have just signed five more players we need to keep an eye on. Here's a quote from the press release:

The Tampa Bay Rays have signed five players to minor league contracts, each with an invitation to major league spring training: right-handed pitcher Jonah Bayliss, outfielder Chris Carter, right-handed pitcher Dirk Hayhurst and infielders Daniel Mayora and Ray Olmedo.

More details on the players are here.

I have fond memories of Ray Olmedo’s 2009 tenure with the Bulls. I like guys like Ray who have good gloves and solid baseball instincts. Have to think that he’s a clubhouse asset or he would never have been signed. Nice to see that he’s got another shot at playing for the Bulls. He took us into the Governors' Cup and the AAA Championship in 2009, maybe he can do it again.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Neil Solondz on Rays/Cubs Trade and the Bulls

Bulls broadcaster Neil Solondz is as knowledgable a guy on the Bulls as there is. Here's a terrific run down on what the big Garza/Perez trade with the Cubs might mean to the Bulls.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Perez to Cubs

The Rays are reportedly about to close a deal sending pitcher Matt Garza to the Chicago Cubs. Somewhat buried in the details of the trade is the item that Durham Bull outfielder Fernando Perez is part of the package.

We really, really like Perez. I don’t think anybody provided as much excitement as he did throughout 2008. But since then he’s had his troubles and we’ve written about them here a couple of times. This is potentially a really good deal for him and for the Rays. Assuming he has gotten his health back on track (at no point last year did he look like the player we saw in 2008), Chicago just might be the place for him. And besides, he’s a big city guy and Chicago could be his kind of town. On the other hand, the Cubs’ AAA team is in Des Moines, Iowa. That should give him plenty of incentive in spring training.

We are going to miss him here at Watching Durham Bulls Baseball.

Thanks for all the hard work and great baseball you brought us, Fernando. Good Luck!

Here are a few links.

Telephone interview yesterday by Mark Topkin of St. Petersburg Times.

Terrific 2010 interview with Adam Sobsey of the Independent Weekly.

Very funny video from early 2010 where Perez laments the difficulties of getting by on $400,000 a year.

Some details on the trade.

A couple of the players coming from the trade could end up in Durham eventually. See comments here and here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Johnson & Ruggiano Get Some Attention

Joe Smith of the St. Petersburg Times thinks that Elliot Johnson has a shot with the Rays this year, especially with the departure of Jason Bartlett. Couple of good quotes from manager Charlie Montoyo and from Elliot himself.|St Pete Times|

Bill Chastain at looks over Justin Ruggiano and notes that there could easily be a place for him in the Rays outfield.||

Meanwhile, Nicole Johnson sounds like a lot of the rest of us in January — stop shopping and try to save money. |Life of the Baseball Wife|

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How To Make a Baseball

In our continuing efforts to make it through the winter, accumulating trivial information helps. In this case, although I knew the critical parts of a baseball, I don't think I'd ever seen one actually being made. Most kids of my generation at some point played with a baseball long enough for the cover to come off, which inevitably led to the unwinding (and unwinding and unwinding) of string until we reached the core. But, until this video, I don't think I really understood how the cover got around the ball in the first place.

Thanks, Dave.

By the way, this may take a few seconds to load.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Odds and Ends

A brief walk around the webworld:

  • Doug Milhoan over at Rays Prospects has put together a nice list of starting pitcher rosters up and down the Rays system. Here's what he sees for the Bulls:

Jeremy Hellickson - unlikely but possible

Alex Cobb - quietly effective year after year

Alex Torres* - my personal upper-level breakout candidate

Richard De Los Santos - already re-signed for another year in Durham

David Newmann* - struggled in AA in ‘10, may move to the bullpen or repeat AA

Jeremy Hall - not really a prospect but quietly had a nice year in AA in ‘10

Minor league free agents

Comment: Hellickson isn’t really likely, but minor league free agents are. The Rays always stash some AAAA-type pitchers in Durham. Some possibilities include former Bulls such as Brian Baker, Carlos Hernandez*, Heath Phillips*, Virgil Vasquez, and Jason Cromer*.

  • Jim Donten, a frequent contributor to Rays Prospects, has started a blog covering the Charlotte (as in Port Charlotte, Florida) Stone Crabs, Claw Digest. Should be a good place to keep an eye out for prospective Bulls.
  • Does it seem to you like the baseball season has been dragging on much longer in recent years? That because it has. Craig Robinson over at Flip Flop Fly Ball has put together yet another of his really great charts that shows us how much longer.
  • It seems while we were speculating on the “Montoyo Merry-Go-Round” last year, down in St. Petersburg Joe Maddon was setting his own standard for lineup shifting. In his case, it was likely to have to do with pitching matchups, while in Charlie Montoyo’s case probably mostly about player development. At any rate, Cork Gaines at Rays Index thinks things should settle down with the Rays. A stable lineup is one of his wished for “gifts” in his “Seven Days of Raysmas” series.

Happy New Year!