Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Replacing number five: Further outfielder outburts

Keeping with my suggestion to bring in a corner outfielder, I have two new potential suitors to take Geoff Jenkins' long-standing place in the Brewers clubhouse. One, fittingly, already wears number five.

With the recent aquisition of veteran free agent Cliff Floyd, the Rays find themself a team with five starting-capable outfielders, and only four spots in which to put them (including DH, crazy American Leaguers!). I assume Floyd will split time between DH and right field, Upton is a lock for center and it'd take a lot to pry Crawford from left — thus the two players that are likely to share time with Floyd are also the most expendable; Rocco Baldelli and Jonny Gomes.

Not that the Rays wish to part with young, homegrown talent to give way to a short-tenured elderstatesman... but their starting rotation, combined with the outfield logjam, may force them to part with one of these players. Kazmir, Shields and the newly aquired Garza allude to a strong pitching staff but there's a considerable dropoff after that. First overall pick David Price probably won't be Major League ready right away, so I'm sure they'd at least listen to offers in the way of hurlers.

Capuano for Gomes OR Baldelli seems fair. Vargas and a backup catcher (Rivera) makes sense too. But the Rays aren't known for their spending and Capuano and Vargas garner 3.5 and 2.5 million respectively, compared to the mere 350 and 750 thousand Gomes and Baldelli are to take in this season. If they aren't willing to pony up the dough, Dave Bush and another player proves to be the best fit for both clubs.

Yes, Baldelli has been subject to various injuries the past two seasons, but when healthy he presents a blend of speed, defensive skill and even some offensive pop. I'd prefer him, and tend to believe the Rays would be quicker to part with him than Gomes. I'm not saying this will happen, in fact... it probably won't, but i've grown accustomed to cheering for a nearby number five from my cheap outfield seats and this could be an affordable, doable and wise way to ensure that can continue.

Any off the wall propositions of your own? I'd enjoy seeing what others have to say.

Posted by Tyler

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