Saturday, February 18, 2012

Getting Ready for Spring Training

I will be out of pocket for a couple of weeks and Rays’ pitchers and catchers report on Monday the 20th. To try to get ahead of the curve just a little bit, here’s my judgement on what Durham Bulls fans should be watching for on the Rays’ blogs and Tampa Bay area newspapers once Grapefruit League box scores start being published.

We need to get our heads around two long lists, the 40-man roster, and the non-roster invitees. Very likely that all of the Bulls will be coming off of those lists. The non-roster list just had three players added to it, outfielders Brad Coon and Jeff Salazar, and catcher Chris Gimenez.

It’s the non-roster invitees we Bulls fans should keep an eye on, because those are the guys who 1) we may not have seen before and 2) could easily show up in Durham this year. Of the 19 players on the list, we saw only five of them last year. Since they are all signed to minor league contracts the Rays have to place them somewhere in the system and certainly they wouldn’t invite them to spring training if they didn’t think they could play at least at the AAA level.

An exception would be the catchers on the list. That’s simply arithmetic. At the beginning of spring training the Rays have 30 pitchers in camp. Somebody’s got to warm them up. No surprise that there are 8 catchers in camp, but a couple will probably start the year in Montgomery.

The odds of a non-roster invitee breaking into the Rays’ 25-man list (or even the 40-man) aren’t very good. But you can bet that one or two of them are going to shine and create one of those problems the Rays front office probably loves.

So, my advice is keep cross-checking the non-roster invitees against the box scores and see who’s getting playing time. That could be a clue.

Minor league camp opens on March 3 and we will start seeing reports of a player being sent “to the minors.” Very likely it will be one of the non-roster invitees and it’s quite likely he will show up in a Bulls (or Biscuits) uniform. Unfortunately, no one is reporting on that activity with the possible exception of the Montgomery Advertiser’s Stacy Long (or possibly one the the guys over at Rays Prospects who apparently lives nearby).  So, keep an eye on Stacy’s blog (it's on the sidebar).

Monday, February 13, 2012

Where are the 2011 Durham Bulls?

*** 52 Days! ***

About time to try to sort out what's happened to last year's team. As is often the case, a lot of ballplayers came through Durham. Shown below are just 36 of them. I've left off several who left early or didn't play in very many games (including Cory Wade who is now firmly entrenched in Bulls trivia, to wit: In the final game of the regular ML season, when 2011 Durham Bull Dan Johnson hit the game-tying home run, what 2011 Durham Bulls pitcher was on the mound for the Yankees?). For a complete list of all 57 (!) players who put on a Bulls uniform in 2011, see Baseball Reference.

Thanks to Rays Prospects for tracking most of these guys. Also if anyone knows the exact status of Omar Luna, Jay Buente, Lance Cormier or Daniel Mayora, I'd like to hear. I'm pretty sure they are still under minor league contracts to the Bulls. Also, if anyone's heard if or where the free agents have landed, let me know and I'll update this.

Hitters are listed in order of number of games played as a Bull, pitchers are listed in order of innings pitched. I've made no distinction between players on the Rays 25-man roster and those on the 40 man. The "Non-Roster Invitee" list is based on reports out of Tampa Bay newspapers and the limited listings so far on the Rays website. A Non-Roster Invitee is a player who is invited to spring training, but is not on the 40-man roster of the Rays. Many of the NRIs will end up playing in Durham this year.

For summaries of their 2011 performance, check hitters here and here, and pitchers here and here.


Russ Canzler (131 games) - Cleveland Indians
Ray Olmedo (124 games) - Chicago White Sox
Leslie Anderson (121 games) - Probable Non-Roster invitee
J.J. Furmaniak (116 games) - Free Agent
Brandon Guyer (107 games) - 40 man
Dan Johnson (93 games) - Chicago White Sox
Desmond Jennings (89 games) - 40 man
Robinson Chirinos (78) - 40 man
Omar Luna (56) - Minor League Camp?
Jose Lobaton (54) - 40 man
Daniel Mayora (51) - Free Agent
Justin Ruggiano (43) - Houston Astros
John Matulia (36) - Free Agent
Nevin Ashley (26) - Non-Roster Invitee
Stephen Vogt (31) - 40-man
Tim Beckham (24) - Non-Roster Invitee
Matt Carson (22) - Minnesota Twins
Craig Albernaz (8) - Non-Roster Invitee


Alexander Torres, LHP (146 innings) - 40 man
Brian Baker, RHP (104 innings) - Milwaukee Brewers
Dane De La Rosa, RHP (70 innings) - 40 man
Mike Ekstrom, RHP, (68 innings) - Colorado Rockies
Rob Delaney, RHP (67 innings) - Florida Marlins
Alex Cobb, RHP (67 innings) - 40 man
Matt Torra, RHP (61 innings) - Non-Roster Invitee
Dirk Hayhurst, RHP (59 innings) - Italy
Andy Sonnanstine, RHP (56 innings) - Chicago Cubs
Ryan Reid, RHP (55 innings) - Non-Roster Invitee
Matt Moore, LHP (52 innings) - 40 man
Lance Cormier, RHP (47 innings) - Free Agent
Jay Buente, RHP (42 innings) - Disabled List
Joe Bateman, RHP (21 innings) - Free Agent
Adam Russell, RHP (17 innings) - Atlanta Braves
Chris Archer, RHP (17 innings), 40-man
Paul Phillips, RHP, (11 innings), Free Agent
Richard De Los Santos, RHP (6 innings) - Signed
Marquis Fleming (2 innings) - Non-Roster Invitee

Update: Jay Buente will be rehabbing at the beginning of season. Still with Rays system. See Comments.
Update 2: Daniel Mayora is an unsigned free agent. Omar Luna is still in the Rays system.
Update 3: Adam Russell added to list and shown as working for the Atlanta Braves this year.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hemstitching: Ruggiano, Dan Johnson, Hayhurst, & More

New Durham Bulls Clubhouse
57 Days!
In the weaver’s world the word hemstitching is used for two purposes: to tie up loose ends (literally, because an “end” is a thread in a warp) and for decoration.
  • Justin Ruggiano has signed with the Houston Astros. It’s a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. The Astro’s AAA team is in Oklahoma City, so either way we’re not likely to be seeing him unless he makes the team and we’re watching a Rays-Astro game someday when the Bulls are out of town. Sounds like he has a good shot at sticking. Good luck!
  • Dan Johnson has signed a similar contract with the Chicago White Sox. That is potentially very bad news for the Bulls. They could could end up facing both Dan and Ray Olmedo (also signed with the White Sox) playing for the Charlotte Knights this year.
  • But we won’t be looking at Dirk Hayhurst on an opponent’s mound. He’s off to Italy. He also devoted an entire blog post to Russ Canzler. Worth a read.
  • Does anyone remember Edwin Jackson on the mound for the Bulls back in 2006? Of course you do. And he’s bounced around quite a bit since then to include time with the Devil Rays, the Rays, Tigers, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, and the White Sox (again). Now with the Nationals. Jonah Keri over at Grantland has a terrific piece about pitching prospects that uses Mr. Jackson as an example.
  • Bringing it back to Durham, look at what’s been done to the Bulls locker room. Here’s hoping it’s ready by April.