Monday, December 29, 2008

Going beyond the usual

It has been the same names that have been brought up when discussing power hitting free agents (or outfielders). Here is some players that might fit with the Rays.

Sammy Sosa: Out of baseball again last year, but he still wants to play in 2009, probably in the WBC. If he plays good, there will be some teams looking into signing him to major league deal for a million or two. This would more of insurance in case a team needs another outfielder. But it doesn't seem likely he will do well since he was out a whole year, and he will be over 40 years old.

Gabe Kapler: Another player to miss a year, although Kapler was still in baseball as a minor league manager in the Boston system. He had an impressive return, batting .301 and .838 OPS, playing in 96 games, mostly off the bench. Kapler is obviously not a starter, but he is a fifth outfielder and provides good defense at all three positions. He also hits lefties well and may be high on Maddon's list because Kapler may be a future manager.

Bernie Williams: Going with the guys who miss a year, Bernie missed two in a row. Never sure why he didn't want to play for a team other than the Yankees, he was still a decent outfielder at the time. Now he hasn't played in any league until a week ago in the Puerto Rico winter league. I don't think he has a chance to play in the Majors anymore, but he is an interesting name out there.

Jay Payton: A more reasonable name on the list. An underrated player, Payton can play all three outfield positions, has above average range and a decent arm. Not really a good hitter, but he doesn't strikeout much and can hit for extra bases. Not much of an upgrade, almost a righty Gabe Gross.

Richie Sexson: The best player on this list in terms of the ability to hit the long ball. His numbers have gone down in the past two seasons, having his lowest ISO of his career at .161. Can only play at first base defensively, he will only platoon if he were to join the Rays. The Rays can take a chance and sign a minor league contract with him and add depth at the Rays weakest organization position.

Rich Aurilia:The best of this bunch, Aurilia is more likely to produce any numbers next year. Aurilia can play all three infield positions pretty well. Kind of reminds me of Willy Aybar, except with a few more Ks. Aurilia does hit lefties better than righties and hit .316 as a pinch hitter. The only drawbacks is that Aurilia can only play the infield and has only played half a season in the AL in his career.

All of these players are merely suggestions, but most of these guys can be brought in through minor league contracts, which allows the Rays to keep these guys in the minors as backups in case of injury.

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