According to reports by FOX Sports and ESPN, the American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays have signed Pat Burrell to a two year, $16 million deal to become their new designated hitter. Burrell played for the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies last season, hitting .250 with 33 home runs, 102 walks and 136 strikeouts. He is a .257 hitter for his career with 251 home runs in nine seasons.
I never thought Pat Burrell was that great of a player, but maybe his being a Philly clouded my judgment to some extent. I would take him over the alternative, Jason Giambi, because he is the righthanded bat that the Rays needed and he is younger (32 years old to Giambi’s 38). He can hit about 30 home runs a year, maybe more if he just concentrates on offense by being a DH (which is the current plan, thankfully). His high walk rates (over 100 per year) can also lead to runs scoring and help make up for his low batting averages and high strikeout rates. His career onbase percentage of .367 helps cover up that .257 average. Batting behind Pena and Longoria, I think Burrell can drive in 100 runs easily.
This is, of course, the optimistic way to view this move, which I always look at when players join the Rays. There are some negatives about Burrell including questions about his attitude, but as far as I know he is not a criminal and he doesn’t noshow games and team events. So I will accept him as a part of this team and hopefully accept catwalk dents and holes in the roof as part of the stadium.
Welcome to the Rays, Pat.
Last week during my holiday vacation, the Rays made what could be a very important signing for 2009. Former Marlins righthanded reliever Joe Nelson agreed to join the American League Champions to help compensate for the losses of Trever Miller and Scott Dohmann. He has finalized a deal for one year and $1.3 million. Last year, in his mid30s, Nelson broke out with the Florida Marlins, pitching 54 innings in relief with 60 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.00. The onetime Atlanta Braves prospect figures to add lateinning contributions alongside the likes of Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler, Chad Bradford and J.P. Howell.
The Nelson signing should be a good example of cheap, yet productive free agent deals. He brings yet another pitching style into the diverse Rays bullpen, as well as another strong arm that can shut down games when necessary. (We could have used him last season.) He obviously has a strong upside if last season proves anything. The Marlins’ loss is the Rays’ gain and we didn’t need $200 million to get it. Until next time and next year, go Rays.
Now that the Rays have the day off, it’s time to scrounge for news to report. Updates will probably become less frequent once the season is past its opening period, but today I didn’t have to go too far to make one. It has been reported on MLB.com that Carl Crawford’s 2009 option has been picked up, and Rocco Baldelli’s was not. Crawford’s salary next year will be $8.25 million, which is far more worth the money than the $2.5 million buyout that they didn’t take. He is, of course, celebrating the news.
“I’m very happy. I
would like to thank the Rays’ organization and [principal owner] Stu
Sternberg for believing in me. I’m grateful for the opportunity for
this day. I’m looking forward to being here for a long time, because I
think we’re at the start of something great going on here. I want to do
well for them and represent the team in a classy manner.”
That would be Crawford’s statement on the 2009 option pickup. There is still one for 2010, worth $10 million, that they can use as well. Meanwhile, the Baldelli news was expected for the last few weeks as he is on the disabled list with a career-threatening, at worst, chronic fatigue disorder. They could still negotiate a new deal if and when he does return, so it may not be quite over yet. The main factor, of course, is how Baldelli recovers. Nobody knows how it will end up. The same can be said for this season, for which Cowbell Kid predicted 89 victories, while an elderly fan at FanFest thought it could be 93. We can start at two when the Rays face the Orioles tomorrow. Until then, go Rays.