Line Drives: Stu Sternberg, David Price, Grant Balfour, Jesse Crain, Josh Sale
The Rays have done some good work in the offseason but there is more to be done. Here are some brief thoughts (line drives, if you will) on what’s up next for the Rays.
A Run for the Roses? There is a rumor on the street that Stu Sternberg and the Rays really don’t want to trade David Price. They want to make a two-year run at winning the World Series and see Price as the key. Why the change of mind? First of all, teams are awash with money as a result of the new television contract and the Rays crying poor is nothing more that good theater to keep pushing for a new stadium. Secondly, the Rays have eighteen key plays under control/contract/option through 2015. That number includes a starter for every field position, the entire starting rotation and four late inning relievers. Overall, this is the best Rays team in years and if the gamble fails, look for a major overhaul.
Seeking Grant Balfour: This leads right into the Grant Balfour saga. Under normal circumstances, the Rays would be tapped out on payroll and have no interest in the angry Aussie. However, after the Oriole fiasco, the Rays seem to be hot on his trail. Their thinking probably is that after being tossed aside by the A’s and disrespected by the Orioles, Balfour would like a comfortable place to land like Joe Maddon’s clubhouse. At any rate he’s probably at least $12 million over two years. It fits into the two-year push.
What’s Up with Jesse Crain? Even after the deadline trade for Crain proved to be a disaster, I thought the Rays would go after him in the offseason. He would be cheap and if offered a chance to close, would jump at a one year deal with an option. Instead, not only are the Rays not in on him but seemingly nobody else is interested. The Cubs are said to have given him a look but that’s about it. Maybe he is still hurt and/or teams are getting more leery about a contract without a physical. It just seems a little strange but he may still end up in a Rays uniform.
Too Much Platooning: If the season started today, the Ray’s would have a platoon situation at two positions, right field and DH. If you have the right players, that’s not the end of the world but it puts a strain on a 25 man roster. It means that on any given day, you only have one effective bench player outside of the catcher. Sure you can put the guys you sat in the platoon situation in the game, but the reason they are on the bench is because they can’t hit the guy on the mound. Change to a pitcher throwing from the other side only complicates the situation. Now you have really reduced your bench. I’m campaigning for the Rays to get a DH that is a complete hitter and give Maddon more room to do his lineup magic.
Where is Josh Sale? Josh Sale was drafted by the Rays as an outfielder out of high school in the first round, #17, of 2010. Of course, like every first rounder, great things were expected of him. He signed late and didn’t start playing until 2011. His first year in short season was ok but then the wheels came off the bus. Injuries were followed by a 50 game drug suspension. Up to that point, Sale had played in 134 games with a .238. /.345/.408 line. Then came the indefinite suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. The incident in question, perhaps among others, was throwing spare change at a stripper and bragging about it on social media. That was May 29 of 2013 and we haven’t heard a word about him since. In typical Rays fashion, they say nothing about him. Will he grow up, find himself, be given another chance and reach the majors with the Rays? Maybe he will but, more than likely, he is just another failed Rays minor league position player.
That’s what I’m thinking about. How about you?