Ben Zobrist Rumors

Rays Rumors: Zobrist, Iwamura, Kapler's Alden Gonzalez provides the latest on a few Tampa Bay Rays:

  • If Ben Zobrist becomes the team's everyday second baseman, the club may decide to bring free agent-to-be Gabe Kapler back as a backup outfielder. Kapler made $1MM this year and hit .239/.329/.439 in 245 trips to the plate.
  • If the club keeps Zobrist at second, it appears highly unlikely that the Rays would pick up Akinori Iwamura's $4.25MM option.
  • Other club options to watch: Carl Crawford at $10MM, Gregg Zaun at $2MM and Brian Shouse at $1.9MM.
  • It's likely that the team will look for affordable late-inning relief help. 

Rays, Rangers May Be Left Out

While many of baseball's contenders are set to stock up on talent, the Rays and Rangers may not be among them. Oh, they're contenders, all right. They just may not add to what they have.

In Tampa Bay's case,'s Bill Chastain points out that the Rays have already dealt Jason Hammel and Edwin Jackson within the past year, making any further pitching depletion a risky move. He adds:

"Ben Zobrist's improvement has made the right field and second base situations look better, while the double-dose of Gabes in right field -- Gross and Kapler -- has begun to look like what the Rays hoped it would prior to the season.  Both are producing when facing either a right-hander in Gross' case or a left-hander in Kapler's.  Finally, a proven closer would be nice, but, again, look at what the bullpen is doing without one and you wonder how much better could the bullpen be with such an addition. Meanwhile, J.P. Howell appears to be taking charge of the closing role."

As for the Rangers, it simply comes down to money, according to's T.R. Sullivan, though Texas would like to add starting pitching.

"The Rangers are also limited in their ability to take on significant payroll with a possible sale of the club by owner Tom Hicks still pending," Sullivan writes.

Of course, it also hurts Texas that Roy Halladay won't approve a trade to Texas, and Cleveland won't trade Cliff Lee, according to Sullivan.

Rosenthal On Strasburg, Arroyo, Zobrist

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says most believe the Nationals will sign Stephen Strasburg to a record deal of about $15-18MM this summer. Here are the details:  

  • Rosenthal describes doomsday scenarios for the Nationals and Strasburg to show that the two sides need to come to an agreement. 
  • The Reds can't even consider dealing Bronson Arroyo until Edinson Volquez returns. If Homer Bailey comes up and pitches well, it would be easier for the Reds to part with a starter.
  • If Akinori Iwamura can return this year, Ben Zobrist may become a super utilityman again. Rosenthal wonders if the AL OPS leader is more valuable when he plays multiple positions.
  • The Brewers, who would like to add pitching, could talk with the Braves, who have had interest in Corey Hart in the past.  
  • Nobody's interested in Jeff Francoeur, but the Braves have enviable pitching depth that would entice the Brewers.

Rays To Stay In-House At Second Base

Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Rays will replace Akinori Iwamura's production from within the organization. Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said the club will rely on Ben Zobrist, Willy Aybar and Reid Brignac to fill the void created by Iwamura's injury. Even with Jason Bartlett injured, the Rays aren't expected to add anyone, in part because they cannot add payroll. It would have been a surprise to see the Rays give something up for a middle infielder when they're getting production from the players they already have.

Plus, as's Buster Olney points out, the Rays need pitching help more than anything else.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Peavy, Giants, Rays, M's, Lidge, Beltre

On this date seven years ago, the A's traded Jeremy Giambi to the Phillies for John Mabry. At the time of the deal, Giambi was hitting .274/.390/.471 with 8 home runs and Mabry was essentially a pinch-hitter. Giambi would go on to hit 12 more home runs for the Phils but would play only one more season in the big leagues. As rumors start to fly in the '09 season, let's take a look at what is being written in the Blogosphere...

  • Fire Ned Colletti Now would be happy to see a team other than the Dodgers trade for Jake Peavy.
  • Jorge Says No! says the Brewers should look into trading for Jake Peavy.
  • McCovey Chronicles takes a look at some deadline deal possibilities for the Giants, including Matt Holliday, Carl Crawford and Ichiro.
  • The Rays Party notes that Jason Isringhausen makes for a crowded bullpen which may indicate that the Devil Rays ($29) are about to make a deal.
  • Phlavio's Corner takes a look at some options to replace Carlos Delgado.
  • Around the Majors takes a look back at the Brad Lidge extension and wonders if it was a mistake.
  • Bleeding Blue and Teal would like to see the Mariners make a deal for Ben Zobrist.
  • The Detroit Tigers Weblog now admits that the Edwin Jackson-Matt Joyce trade may have been good for the Tigers.
  • MLB Notebook sees a few possible trade destinations for Adrian Beltre including both Chicago franchises.

Cork Gaines writes for If you have a suggestion for this feature, Cork can be reached here, and on Twitter here.

Baldelli's Hamstrings May Open Door For Lofton

With Rocco Baldelli appearing only twice in spring games this year, the Rays may consider reviving talks with free agent outfielder Kenny Lofton. Tampa Bay's right field and fourth outfielder depth is light enough that they've begun to look at infielders Joel Guzman and Ben Zobrist at left and right field, respectively.

Ray's manager Joe Maddon won't even guess when Baldelli will return to full-time play. Baldelli is nursing sore hamstrings this spring. He's expected to play right field, if he can run, and will split time with Cliff Floyd and Jonny Gomes at DH.

Given Floyd's fragility, the Rays will be taking quite a chance if they depend on that combination.  Floyd has appeared in 150 games once in the last ten years. Baldelli appeared in 150 games in his rookie year but hasn't in the three years since.

By Big Mike Glab

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