There's Gold In Them Tampa Bay Hills

This is an interesting synopsis of the Devil Rays' needs in the offseason:

Plenty of areas will need to be addressed as the Rays look to rebound from a disappointing 2009 season, but these four should take priority:

Retool the bullpen. Again.

Remarkable as it may seem considering all the disappointment that stemmed from the relief corps this season, the Rays' 3.90 bullpen ERA entering the weekend was fourth-best in the American League and just outside the top third among big-league teams.

Does that number soothe the fan base or make Joe Maddon feel better about the options on the other end of his phone? Probably not. So expect another handful of new faces in the pen next spring around the returning core of Dan Wheeler, J.P. Howell and Grant Balfour.

The biggest question, of course, is what to do about finishing games. The Rays won't be able to afford an established closer, so they could go one of two routes in seeking outside help: a reclamation project, a la Troy Percival, or a promotion candidate - an effective setup man who might be ready to take the next step but would still be an economical option.

Figure out the catching situation

Still without an elite backstop in their farm system, the Rays will have to get creative again to shore up one of their biggest problem areas from this season.

Coming off a profoundly disappointing year, Dioner Navarro will be eligible for arbitration a second time and likely will approach a $3 million salary in 2010.

It's possible the Rays could decide to cut him loose rather than pay that much and instead pick up Gregg Zaun's $2 million option and pair him with a right-handed hitter making near the minimum - someone like Michel Hernandez.

Find a home for Zobrist

Given his ability to slot in at multiple positions and excel, it's unlikely Ben Zobrist will ever settle exclusively into one spot. But it would help in assembling the roster if the Rays decided Zobrist would be their primary second baseman or right fielder.

So, let's try this thought experiment:  why not trade Joakim Soria and Byran Pena for Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist?  [I am assuming they will not part with BJ Upton].  

Play Zobrist at second base, Callaspo at third base, and move Gordon over to first.  Let Aviles fight it out with Yu-Bet for shortstop, and assume Aviles wins the fight.   Put Joyce in centerfield, MM in right, and DDJ in left.   Let Guillen sulk at the end of the bench for a year, make Butler a full time hitter, and make Kyle Davies your closer.

Sounds doable to me.


This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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