Rays Notes: Rays Finalize Roberto Hernandez Contract, Matt Bush Finalizes Plea Deal


On the same day where the Rays concluded negotiations with a pitcher on a 2013 contract, one of their former pitchers put the finishing touches on the plea deal that will put him in jail for next three years. Two promising pitchers, two futures that could not be any more different.

After we heard last week about the Rays being close to signing Roberto Hernandez, the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reported yesterday about the final terms of the deal. The Rays’ contract with Hernandez is worth 3.25 million dollars for one year with Hernandez able to earn an additional 1.85 million. 1.25 million dollars of those incentives are based on innings pitched while the other $600,000 is based on relief relief appearances, so the Rays are unsure which role Hernandez will play next season. Smith later talked to Andrew Friedman about the signing.

"“We feel like this is a one of those risk-reward stories that makes a lot of sense for us,” Friedman said. “Upside is really compelling.”“This guy has got really good stuff,” Friedman said. “The two-seamer, which he gets a lot of ground balls, slider, changeup. We feel like he has the repertoire to get out righthanded and left-handed hitters.”"

It was surprising just how much money the Rays gave Hernandez (more on that later today), but they clearly see him as a pitcher with considerable promise who could play a big role for their team next season. Hernandez saw his career completely sidetracked after it discovered that he was in the United States under a false identity, but the Rays still know that his stuff is electric and that with the right adjustments he could be even better in 2012 than he was in the past. The Rays are looking forward to seeing what Hernandez can do for them next season.

A year ago, Matt Bush went into spring training knowing that with a good minor league season he would finish the year in the major leagues. The Rays had given him a third chance after attitude and alcohol problems had run him out of the Instead, on March 23rd he made a mistake that has completely ruined his life. He borrowed his teammates car while he was drunk and while his license was suspended, and he crashed into a 72 year old motorcyclist, critically injuring him, and then fled the scene.   It’s impossible to have sympathy for Bush after everything he has done. All we can do is ask how in the world a baseball player with so much talent let his life get away from him like this. On Tuesday, Bush’s sentence was officially set in stone. Bush accepted a plea deal that will put him behind bars for the next three and a half years. Bush has so little confidence in his ability to stay sober that he turned down a deal that would have put him behind bars for one less year but would have added 7 years of probation after his sentence. It’s just sad how far he has fallen. The family of the victim has also fired a 5 million dollar lawsuit against Bush and current Rays outfielder Brandon Guyer, whose car Bush was driving (Guyer didn’t know his license was suspended), and the family also blamed the Rays for the entire ordeal.

"“I think as far as the Rays go, they brought Matt Bush here, so I think the family kind of feels like they’re the ones that brought him to town,” Moore said. “He wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Rays, so I think the family is a little upset with the Rays, knowing Matt Bush’s history, all the DUIs, why would they bring him to this area? So that is another thing the family has a question about. Why would you scout out a person who has a history like that? so, that’s a whole other deal.”"

Matt Bush did something terrible. But you’re blaming the Rays? You’re blaming them for giving him a second chance? Should people who committed a crime never get re-hired because you’re scared of what they might do? That’s great logic. You hope that people can change, and sometimes they really do. Unfortunately, this was not one of those cases. It’s absolutely terrible what happened to the victim and everything the family has gone through, and it’s depressing how Bush looked like he had finally turned his life and career around only for him to do something worse than ever before and bring his entire life crashing down.

In other Rays news, Jim Hickey talked to the Rays’ official site about the state of the Rays bullpen and how there are things still up in the air but he’s confident that the group will be able to come through.

"“We always talk about in order to be good, you have to have three or four guys that you trust at the end of the game at the higher leveraged innings, and we certainly have that,” Hickey said. “So I’m pretty comfortable where we’re at right now.”"

A former member of the Rays’ bullpen, J.P. Howell, is someone the Rays might consider re-signing, but Bill Ladson of MLB.com mentioned in a chat that Howell has five different suitors also looking to sign him, and that makes it seem unlikely that he’ll be back with the Rays next season.

Finally, former professional scout Bernie Pleskoff wrote in a column for the Rays’ official site about shortstop prospect Hak-Ju Lee, praising his defense and also describing his offense as “projectable” with more power that Lee has yet to tap into. Pleskoff also discussed how the Rays’ signing of Yunel Escobar allows them to take their time with Lee and give him the time he needs to develop. Lee has the potential to develop into the first real franchise shortstop the Rays have ever had, and the Rays hope that with time he’ll be able to live up to his potential and be an integral part of future Rays teams.