Interesting games last night. Not sure I want to write about them. According to the radio broadcast the second game of the double header was Chris Bootcheck’s last game. He had exercised the opt-out clause in his contract with the Rays.
Here’s a question for Rays’ management: What’s the point of all these opt out contracts?
With the departure of Chris Bootcheck, the Bulls have lost their third talented ballplayer in as many weeks. Bootcheck was preceded out the door by Cory Wade, now pitching for the New York Yankees and Chris Carter, now hitting .346 for the team that’s tied with the Bulls for first place in the South Division, the Gwinnett Braves. All three are now reported to have originally signed minor league contracts with clauses that said that if they weren’t called up they could move on. How many other Bulls have out clauses in their contracts? We don’t know.
As a general rule, the comments about the Tampa Bay Rays here at WDBB are made with with what I hope is seen as good humor. But it sure is tough to watch good ballplayers leave the Bulls, players whom we fans never knew weren’t going to spend the season with the team. Bulls fans have been blindsided again and again and again.
A week or so ago a fellow fan remarked to me that the Bulls didn’t seem to be playing like a team this year. Something to that?
Sitting up in the stands at the DBAP a few of us keep fairly close watch on this team. We keep track of things such as noticing who’s on the 40-man roster and who might be going up to or coming down from the Rays. We watch who's improving, having trouble, etc. Bootcheck, for example, was doing a fine job moving from relief to starting and really helping out the team. It really hurts to turn on the radio and discover that one of our best pitchers is pitching his last game in a Durham Bulls uniform.
Did the Rays try to keep him in Durham? Who knows? Reporters who could have been reporting this story haven’t. So we have been in the dark all season (which is now more than half over, I might add). Makes some of us (OK, maybe just me) feel like fools. Are we going to lose any more? Is anybody going to say?
In the abstract, for 2011 Tampa Bay Rays last spring, this may have made sense. The Rays were shedding payroll like there was no tomorrow and the Rays were obviously sweeping up any veteran ballplayer with a remote chance of being able to lend a hand to the Rays, especially if they could be had cheaply. The Rays obviously were also, we now know, more than willing to add opt out clauses to those minor league contracts.
Here’s another question for Rays management: Was any thought given to the impact this might have on their team in Durham? No? I didn’t think so.
Last question: What’s the point of this secrecy? It sounds like everyone under the stands (in their offices and locker rooms) and on the field at the DBAP knew about these contracts. Just not anyone in the stands. For that matter, if last night was Bootcheck’s last stand you’d think the print reporters would have mentioned it. They haven’t. Nor have any roster moves been announced at the usual places.
Well, maybe we have a reason for my fellow fan’s observation that the Bulls don't seem to be playing like a team this year. They aren’t.