Today was the Rule 5 draft and whoever was not protected could be selected from any team. Players drafted are mainly roster fillers, former top prospects, or guys that didn't make the big league team. The Rays had put only three pitchers this year on the 40-man roster to protect: Dale Thayer, Wade Davis, and Jeremy Hellickson. A top candidate eligible to be selected was closer Eduardo Morlan who was acquired through the Garza-Young trade last year. He was drafted with 16th pick by the Milwaukee Brewers which is good for them as they need bullpen help really badly. But what I'm hearing is that Morlan had some issues and lost some velocity on his fastball, which used to hit 98 mph.
The Rays used their pick on a Chicago White Sox minor league pitcher Derek Rodriguez who converted to reliever for the 2008 season. As a former starter, he could play a role as a candidate for long relief, which was held by Jason Hammel for the Rays last season. He has impressive stuff, low nineties fastball and a slider, and throws variations of them by changing arm angles (Sonnanstine esque?). His stuff gets a lot strikeouts and confuses hitters by his changing arm angles, but I wonder how effective that is against Major League hitters. He needs to be smart and have control in order for him to be successful in the Major Leagues, like Andy Sonnanstine. Will wait and see this spring on how the competition is like in the bullpen.
Other news on the hot stove:
Nothing much other than the Joyce for Jackson trade for the Rays. There is a report that Jason Giambi wants to return to the Yankees and is willing to take a pay cut. And by judging the comments made, I don't think many fans actually want him back, even at a discount. Even if they take him back, their lineup looks intimidating but aging.
A big three team trade between the Mets, Mariners, and Indians that lands now set-up man JJ Putz to the New York Mets in a 12 player trade. The Mets now improve their weakest part from last season, which was just deplorable down the stretch. The back end of the bullpen now features three of the most dominate closers to play the game: Billy Wagner, K-Rod, and JJ Putz.
Last thing, I was mentioned on Rays Index today, a blog which I think is the best blog what anything Rays is going on.