Just a quick note to send off Dan Johnson uhh, urm, umm…well, I guess. Our AAA all-star first baseman has chosen to become a free agent by declining a move that would find him, yet again, in AAA Durham. Yes, to be fair DanJo is indeed a class act. However, manners and likability do not a major league slugger make.
According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Rays have exercised both Big Game James Shields $7.5 million and Kyle Farnsworths $3.3 million one year options. However, they declined Kelly Shoppach’s $3.2 million option.
Is it an understatement to say that picking up both Shield and Farnsy were easy decisions? I’d say so!
Shields posted a 2.82 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 249 1/3 innings in 2011, including a league leading 11 complete games and for shutouts. It’s safe to say that Shields trade value has sky-rocketed through the roof though Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has made mention that he’d prefer to preserve the Rays pitching depth. Farnsworth posted a 2.18 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 57 2/3 innings out of the bullpen in 2011 as the Rays “closer”.
Check out this Tampa Tribune article regarding impending (eak gad, dare I say tentatively scheduled) talks between Balking Bill Foster and Stu Sternberg. In a nutshell, the dynamic duo have causally spoken to one another, and have tentatively planned to discuss all things, stadium and attendance, at an unspecified date after the World Series.
Where and exactly when the meeting will take place is undetermined at this point. Good old Bill got on his high horse an suggested that he would like to wait until Sternberg visits the Tampa Bay area. He presumably asserted this in his best Droopy the Dog voice. He inevitably relented and mentioned that he would be willing to fly to New York if necessary, after some well placed verbal nudging by councilwoman Leslie Curran.
Is this a good news? Hell yes, no doubt about it! However, I’m not willing to wave the white flag on the 55% project until some noticeable efforts have been made by both sides. To that end, we are all tasked with the responsibility of shaping the destiny of the Rays in the bay area…so let’s do this.
Two St. Petersburg Times staff writers, David Decamp and Michael Von Sickler, reported today that St. Petersburg mayor, Bill Foster, made very Stu Sternberg like comments (read: those of a petulant teenager) regarding the Rays marketing, or shall I say lack there of (according to Foster), in the area.
According to the article, Foster was implicated by Pinellas County commissioner, Susan Latvala, as having said, “I believe that they are deliberately trying to hurt the team financially by not promoting it adequately” in a phone conference Friday. Foster categorically denies that those statements were uttered and responded by saying “That’s stupid, that’s ludicrous.” According to Latvala, Foster also went on to say that the Rays organization spent only $500 thousand on marketing in the 2011 season; an accusation that was denied by the Rays spokesman, Rick Vaughn, who said the Rays spends “far in excess” of $500,000 on marketing, and “Our budget for giveaway items alone exceeds that amount.”
The article can be read in its entirety here. I highly recommend opening the link, and taking the opportunity to read it.
As I’ve mentioned on many occasions, Stu Sternberg brings up legitimate points, but does so in a mind numbing “Silver Spoons” Rick Schroder kind of way. In this case, I can’t help but feel that mayor Foster is acting in a similar manner. Does he have a valid concern? Of course. However, his manner of working that concern through, in a very public fashion at that, is not doing anything to bolster the desire of the organization to work with good old “Open Door” Bill Foster. On the contrary, it wreaks of back tracking an damage control.
Allow me to get on my righteous high-horse for a moment and reiterate the importance of us Rays fans having our say in this ongoing, urm…narrative. It doesn’t matter how you do it, people. All that matters is that you do it.
In not so humorous news, former director of baseball operations for the Rays, Dan Feinstein, has left the Rays organization to join the Oakland Athletics, where he will be director of professional scouting and baseball development. Feinstein would have been the next in line for the general manager role if Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman were to go elsewhere. Feinstein has been Friedman’s right hand man for the last six seasons, and because of this move, a lot of speculation has been made as to whether Friedman will take the role of team president for the Los Angeles Angels. The Los Angeles Times reported today that the odds of Friedman being lured away are “slim”. Be still my pitter-pattering heart…
Former Rays special assistant, Dave Eiland, has taken the position of pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. After spending one season as Rays special assistant, Eiland made his intentions known, that he’d again like to be a pitching coach toward the end of the 2011 season. The St. Petersburg Times reported Eiland as saying, “I’m very happy; it’s what I do, I wouldn’t have left Tampa Bay for any pitching coach job. It had to be the right fit, and Kansas City felt like a very good fit.”