Well folks, surprise-surprise. Just as the Rays seem to be on the mend, bam! Luke Scott is back on the DL, and Cobb gets smacked with a come backer that knocks him out of the game. Thankfully Cobb, like Hellickson before, was diagnosed with a pretty nasty bruise, not a break. Luke thinks he’ll be better on this side of 15 days. But with an oblique strain, who really knows?
In any case, the Rays are at the end of their 10-game home stand. Friedman and Co. mentioned that they would re-evaluate their roster needs around now. With Hideki “0-14 with seven strikeouts and only one walk over the last seven days” Matsui being the heir apparent to the DH spot while Luke is out, it’s obvious that the Rays need someone in the lineup to bolster the offense. I mean hell, even one hit is a 100% improvement over what both Matsui and Brooks Conrad have offered over the course of this home stand. But I digress. My crystal ball ain’t clear. Only the Rays front office knows whether they’ll be buyers or sellers at the deadline.
Let’s say that the Rays choose to bolster their offense from within, or they put together some sort of Shields trade package for compensatory draft picks. The question stands; What prospects might be available to fill any current, or future, needs within the Rays system? Mind you that Sam Fuld is slated to return this week. I have to feel that if anything, Fuld could act as a re-energizing spark. But at 3-16 with a double and two walks in his rehab stint with the Bulls, I don’t think he’ll make a huge difference on the roster until he get’s his timing back. He is a competent pinch hitter, posting a .400 BA/.571 OBP/.467 SLG/1.038 OPS line in 15 at-bats, but I don’t necessarily see Super Sam bolstering the “big O” right off of the, well…bat. There’s got to be a few sticks in the system, right? Let’s see, shall we.
Leslie Anderson was picked up by the Rays in 2010 and has quietly plugged away in Triple-A since his acquisition. Following a regression of sorts in Durham last season, Anderson has really put together a solid 2012. He’s bumped up his walk percentage from 4.3% to 6.7%, while lowering his strikeout percentage from 12.1% to 11.6%. Too, Anderson’s almost hit his high water mark of 54 runs created in 462 at bats last season, with 48 runs created in only 298 at bats in 2012. His batting average, power numbers, and BABIP have also improved, posting a .315 BA/.370 OBP/.456 SLG/.826 OPS/.336 line, with nine homers and 39 runs, while driving in 37. Anderson is capable of playing in the outfield and first base.
Brandon Allen made some noise by hitting a walk off home run in his first at bat with the Rays. Unfortunately an injury found him on the DL, then Allen got DFA’d. He has had a good year at the plate in Durham since. Though he’s posted a .300 BA/.330 OBP/.520 SLG/.850 OPS/.361 BABP line, with four homers and 16 runs in 106 plate appearances, I suspect that his 1:8 walk to strikeout ratio may be the biggest hurdle he has to overcome. That he has pop is desirable…then again, so does BJ.
Stephen Vogt is best known for pulling a big fat 0’fer in 17 major league at bats with the Rays. He’s been somewhat of a beast in Triple-A, and a lot of people find that endearing. Personally, I’d like to have seen some of his plus stuff carry over from Durham, but that’s just me. Nevertheless, Vogt’s put up a good .295 BA/.364 OBP/.461 SLG/.825 OPS/.325 BABIP line, on the back of 57 hits and 30 runs, including seven taters and 29 RBI. What’s more, Vogt was out for a couple of weeks with an injury, but bounced back quite well afterward.
Ryan Garko, a utility player for Double-A Montgomery, looks as if he could be promoted to Triple-A at any moment. The potential to make the move to the Rays at some point toward September could be there as well, especially considering the Rays current offensive woes. Formerly of both the Indians and and the Rangers, Garko has posted a .318 BA/.416 OBP/.469 SLG/.885 OPS line with Montgomery in 192 at bats. Garko’s also driven in 33 runs, while crossing the plate 31 times on 26 walks and 61 hits, including seven home runs. Garko has cooled off since July, just hitting .250 which may be why he’s still in Montgomery. Then again, he’s put together better numbers than Rich Thompson and actually has major league experience, so who knows?
Chris Archer was impressive in his two-start stint with the Rays, sadly going 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA. Archer posted a 7:1 strikeout to walk ratio, striking out 14 and walking two in 11 innings of work. Plus, the kid showed he could be a competent pinch runner! I suspect that we could see a return of return in September in a bullpen role. Who knows, if the Rays deal Shields, and if Cobb continues to perform as he has in his last few starts, we may see him in a starting role.
Whatever the case, the Rays direly need to bolster a lacking offense, and a somewhat lacking starting rotation…with the exception of David Price that is. Could a trade be in the cards? That remains to be seen. If not, there are a few hitting and pitching options within the system. Personally, I like the idea of bringing Anderson and Archer up at some point this season.