Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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My thoughts on the Blalock situation
Posted May 13, 2010 by Roger Mooney
Updated May 13, 2010 at 11:58 AM
Right now, Hank Blalock is most popular player in the Rays organization, enjoying the same respect afforded most backup quarterbacks in the NFL.
He’s tearing up Triple A with a .366 average for the Durham Bulls, and given the struggles of the Rays current designated hitter, Pat Burrell, the logical question is why is Blalock still toiling in Triple A?
The answer is … well, I’m not sure.
His agent, Scott Boras, told the St. Petersburg Times earlier this week, that Blalock has had just about enough and is ready to invoke his opt-out clause so he can sign with one of the major league teams that has shown interest in his awfully hot left-handed bat.
The feeling inside the Rays organization is Boras is trying to bully the Rays into brining his client up the major leagues, and they’re not happy about it.
You have to wonder if teams in need of a bat were interested in Blalock, wouldn’t they have contacted Rays VP of baseball Andrew Friedman about a trade? Maybe some have, and Friedman isn’t willing to deal, because Blalock represents an insurance policy for Carlos Peña at first base, Evan Longoria at third and even Burrell.
You also have to wonder how Blalock’s .366 average would translate at the major league level.
Let’s keep in mind that Blalock is one highly-motivated minor leaguer. He waited until the start of the exhibition season to sign a minor league deal because he was waiting for a major league deal that never came.
He accepted his only offer – a minor league deal from the Rays.
Unwilling at first to head to Durham at the end of spring training, Blalock used a clause in that contract that allowed him to search for work with another major league team. Once again, all 29 passed.
Would Blalock be an upgrade over at DH? We can guess yes, but we don’t really know. Much like the popularity of the backup quarterback, we haven’t seen what he can do this season at the major league level.
On the other hand, almost anything would be an upgrade over what Burrell is doing, though to be fair, Burrell did win three games for the Rays this season, including that suspended game in Boston and the one right after it, which might prove to be the turning point for this season.
Also to be fair to Burrell, the guy is working at his craft, he’s just not getting the desired results from someone who will make $9 million this season.
Manager Joe Maddon likes to quote the definition of insanity, which is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. That could be applied to Burrell’s situation, much like it could be applied to Maddon’s decision to keep B.J. Upton atop the batting order for a large chunk of last season.
My feeling is this: The Rays will eventually release Burrell and bring up Blalock, but not before they feel it is cost-effective to eat what remains of his contract and not because Boras has forced their hand.