Things have been fairly quiet in our little corner of the world since the news that the Rays signed Jeff Keppinger broke last week. Haven’t been paying attention? This will hopefully catch you up to speed on things.
On Monday, one of the lousiest Rays of all time, Pat Burrell, FINALLY, decided to call it a day. In my meager opinion, his decision comes two and a half years (and $10 MM) too late.
Also, Thursday marked the day that Jeff Niemann began his arbitration hearing. We’re still awaiting the ruling on the case, however many have speculated that things don’t look good for Niemann. In January, Andrew Friedman had this to say about the pending hearing “Going to a hearing is definitely a sub-optimal outcome for both sides.” Friendman’s comments came after Niemann and the Rays could not come to a consensus on how much to the tall RHP would earn in 2012. There was a $500K chasm between the two parties, with Niemann seeking $3.2 MM, and the Rays willing to pay $2.75 MM going into the hearing. With a myriad of reasons why the Rays would err on the side of the lower amount, Freidman and Co. enter this round of arbitration hearings 5-0 from previous hearings. Then again, the Rays do have cash considerations coming their way from the Russ Canzler deal (see below), so who knows? Maybe the Tampa Bay is looking to meet Niemann half way. I’m waiting with baited breath for the outcome of this three hour meeting of the minds!
February 3 Update: This just in, as speculated by a number of sources, and predicted by others, Jeff Niemann lost his arbitration case. Niemann will earn $2.75 MM in 2012, which is still, about, a 300% increase in pay over last years $900 K and change salary. Tampa Bay is now 6-0 in arbitration cases, with five of those victories coming in the Freidman era.
In other news, Justin Ruggiano, who was designated for assignment last week, decided to decline that assignment and become a free agent on Monday. Ruggiano appeared in 46 games last year, and posted a .248/.273/.400 line in 111 plate appearances.
Finally, infielder Russ Canzler, who was also designated for assignment last week, was picked up by the Indians earlier today for cash considerations. How much the Rays made on the trade is unknown, as of now. Interestingly enough, there is the possibility that this could effect the Indians interest level in former Ray, free agent Casey Kotchman.
February 1 Update:
Whoops, I almost forgot. Former Ray (well…more like former Durham Bull) and author, Dirk Hayhurst, announced via Twitter and his blog, that he’ll forgo the grind of making his way back to the big-leagues and pitch in Italy, in 2012. Hayhurst spent time in the Rays organization last season, but was released in August. Hayhurst earned notoriety for his 2011 book, The Bullpen Gospels, which will soon be followed by Out of My League. “The Garfoose” had this to say about the opportunity to play in Italy:
…But you only live once. I could go back and try my hand at filling out someone’s Triple-A roster on the hope that if enough guys above me get hurt I could sneak back onto a big league roster. Yet, after spending as much time in this game as I have, I can honestly tell you that the chances of me making it back to the top are relatively low, while the chances that I grow resentful to the grind as it eats yet another year of my life are relatively high…
Best of luck to you, Dirk!