Wednesday, February 27, 2008

We're still here...kinda

In case you haven't noticed the severe lack of updates on TSP, we've really thrown our hats into the world of Rays blogs. Our own spin off blog Outs Per Swing, has been well received, even picking up an endorsement from Rays owner Stu Sternberg. We've also joined Rays Anatomy at MVN and have started writing for them as well. This explains the lack of TSP activity, and while we hoped to keep TSP as active as possible it's almost impossible with the schedules we have. However, we will continue to post when we can. In the mean time you can catch us over at OPS and MVN.

Outs Per Swing

Rays Anatomy at MVN

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Jason Kidd to the Mavericks for real this time. Lets party like its 1994

Let's go back in time folks. Back to a simpler day when we didn't have to dig up Keith Van Horn's body to complete a trade. Jason Kidd is a Maverick again, just like 1994. In what might be the most delayed trade since, well, Erik Bedard's deal last week, the Mavericks & Nets completed an eight player deal sending J-Kidd and his big headed kid to Dallas for Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager, Van Horn's Soul via sign-and-trade, '08 and '10 1st Rd Picks and $3 million in cash.

This is the latest move that shifts the balance of the NBA even more West. It is truly a Varsity/JV Split in the NBA right now. One wonders if the Spurs will now make a move in order to counteract their rivals in the west.

The move is definitely a win-now move for the Mavs. J-Kidd is 34 and heading into the twilight of his career, but to me he's still a Top five PG in the league and can only make Dirk, J-Howard and Jason Terry that much more dangerous. For the Nets, this finally ends the Jason Kidd era that included two finals appearances, but no titles.

Monday, February 18, 2008

PSA:Outs Per Swing

If you haven't already checked out our newest blog Outs Per Swing please do. We have a new interview with R.J. Anderson as well as pictures and live reports from spring training

Spring Training Preview Yahoo Picture Style

"Did Livan really just eat that kid?"

Little too close for comfort

"Hey Pedro, Why did the chicken cross the road?

"Joba, haven't you showered since the playoffs? These bugs are everywhere

Dwight Howard's Superman Dunk vs. Michael Jordan's Skywalker

Don't get me wrong, I love Dwight Howard aka Superman aka Big Black Jesus aka Freak Nasty aka Ya Baby Daddy. But nobody is going to tell me that this:

Is better than this:

Friday, February 15, 2008

Crumpler, Leftwich Cap casualties

I guess I need to keep that "Will work for food" sign around longer for former Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons players. Following the lead of Miami's releasing of veterans: Trent Green, Marty Booker, Zach Thomas and others, the Atlanta Falcons went on a firing spree of their own today highlighed by releasing Pro Bowl TE Alge Crumpler and Byron Leftwich among others. I wouldn't be surprised to see a few additional names such as Keith Brooking, Warrick Dunn, Lawyer Malloy and Joey Harrington added to that list soon. Here are some comments from Falcons new GM Thomas Dimitroff:

"This is a difficult day for the entire organization."

"These decisions weren't easy, but we felt they were necessary to build a team in the long-term best interest of the Falcons and its fans."

The Falcons can also thank Mike Vick for this situation. Since they cannot recover his signing bonus it put the Falcons salary cap in terrible shape.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Will work for your team: A look a the remaining 2008 Free Agents.

For some teams Pitchers and Catchers report in just two days and yet we have a former MVP, a former CY Young winner, and numerous All-Stars still looking for work. Take a look at our top 10 list of players who are still free agents:

Barry Bonds:
The Greatest hitter of all time, period. Last year, Bonds posted a 170 OPS+ at the age of 42. Alex Rodriguez had a monster year last year, arguably his best, and he posted a 177 OPS+. His "off the field" problems are keeping him "off the field" more than his play.

Kyle Lohse:
I think Lohse probably had a deal on the table earlier but gambled for a bigger payday and lost. His best hope is to sign a 1 yr deal and hope to put up good numbers and try again next year.

Bartolo Colon:
Damaged goods, coming off back to back injury plagued seasons. May sign a deal to rehab with a team and come back mid-season or next year.

Shannon Stewart:
Posted some good numbers last year .290/.345/.394 with an OPS+ of 101. Not bad for a 33 year old. Should get a job sometime in the spring as a 4th OF'er.

Kenny Lofton:
Same as Stewart, put up good numbers at a more impressive age, 40. Should catch on during ST.

Livan Hernandez:
Big surprise nobody has taken a harder look at the innings eater. Livan will probably sign on as a back end starter for a team that has injury concerns or is looking for a veteran to anchor their rotation.
EDIT:Talk about working quickly, It seems Twins GM Bill Smith is a big TSP fan. Since this post Hernandez has signed a 1 year deal between $5 and 6 Million dollars with the twins. Thats one down...

Josh Fogg:
Much like Livan, I'm surprised someone hasn't signed Fogg to a 1 or 2 yr deal yet. Not that he's any good, but still surprising someone hasn't over paid for him. Maybe teams are getting smarter.

Jeff Weaver:
Similar to Fogg, it looks like teams have finally realized what you see is what you get. An average ERA+ of 74 the past two years shouldn't get you a $8-10 million dollar contract.

Reggie Sanders:
Coming off an injury plagued season. Still can be a valuable bat off the bench and mentor to young players. Just a matter of time before he signs with his ninth big league team.

Armando Benitez:
Not worth much more than a minor league deal at this point.

Monday, February 11, 2008

All Hail Jim Zorn?

The Redskins finally decided on a head coach this weekend. It wasn't Gregg Williams, who interviewed 4 times, Ron Meeks, Pete Carroll, or Steve Mariucci. However, it was a Jim, but not the Jim's who interviewed before like Jim Fassel, Jim Mora Jr., Jim Schwartz, Jimmy Dean or Jim Beam. Nope, it was another Jim, one you probably never heard of if you live outside of the Pacific North West. Jim Zorn was named Washington Redskins Head Coach after a month long search for Joe Gibbs successor. Zorn was hired as Redskins Offensive Coordinator earlier this offseason in what many thought was a strange move. Why hire an offensive coordinator without a head coach? This is were Dan Snyder is a genius, he knew Zorn would be a perfect fit for the next head coach because, well, he is the next head coach. This goes down as one of the strangest moves in a long line of weird management decisions by Snyder. Revist one of my earlier stories and you'll see that Snyder is doing his best to make Al Davis look sane. Zorn, a former Seattle Seahawks QB, and most recently QB Coach has never held a head coaching postion and only interviewed for the position this past thursday after Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo withdrew from consideration.

As a Cowboys fan the Zorn era couldn't have gotten of to a better start. Standing behind the three Redskins super bowl trophies Zorn said, "I look at these three trophies,and it's quite intimidating." Excellent Jimmy, just wait till your standing in Texas Stadium with the star in the middle of the field, god looking down on his team through the open roof, and five Super Bowl banners hanging from the rafters. That won't scare you a bit.

On to more Zorn-isms:

Zorn said he definitely planned to hire an offensive coordinator. Wow, this guy is bright. Imagine the concept, If I'm the offensive coordinator and then I become the head coach I'm definitely going to need to hire another offensive coordinator. Great Plan!

Of course, as a Head Coach your coordinators are key because one coach can't have his hands in everything at one time, but you would like to think the head coach at least knows what everybody is doing and that he has final say on matters. When asked about the defense Zorn replied "I'm going to leave that alone." He was then asked about the riggers of having to put out so many fires on a daily basis as an NFL head coach. Zorn didn't disappoint the masses with:

"I'm hoping I don't have to put out every fire."

"I'm hoping there are going to be enough people in place in a supportive role that they can put out the fire before it gets to me,"

"Because I want to coach. I'm not here for fluff. I want to lead and I want to motivate."

Look, don't bother my man Jim here with defensive game plans and injury reports, we don't need that fluff. Let's cut to the game day pep talk

Quite possibly the best Zorn-ism of all, Zorn said his family is proud to wear the Maroon and Black of the Redskins. Take a minute.....Maroon and Black.....Ok time is up. Let's see what Wikipedia has to say about the colors of the Redskins. Team colors: Burgundy and Gold

Yep, just like I thought. Now let's check out what Maroon and Black looks like

Exactly, Welcome to the NFC East Jim Zorn. We're glad your here.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Erik Bedard Deal Finalized; More on Schilling's injured shoulder.

Erik Bedard is finally a Seattle Mariner. The story of Bedard going to the M's for Adam Jones, George Sherrill, minor leaguer P's Chris Tillman, Tony Butler and Kam Mickolio originally broke on January 27th, when Jones left his winter league and informed teammates that he was going to Baltimore. Peter Angelos then put a halt on the deal saying he had no idea such a move was going down. Basically no new news came out for days until last night, when word got out that Bedard was flying to Seattle to take a physical.

If healthy, the tandem of Bedard and Felix Hernandez gives the M's one of, if not the best 1-2 punch in the AL.

In the latest Curt Schilling news, Dr. Craig Morgan, who claims he knows Schilling's pitching arm "better than anybody who breathes on this planet" says the only way Schill's shoulder can fully heal is with surgery:

"I think his chance of coming back to pitching with rehab or a conservative approach is zero,"

"He might not come back after surgery, either. However, if the surgery is successful, he should be fully rehabbed by about All-Star break."

The Saga continues...

Curt Schilling injured and talking, it's officially baseball season.

The first major non steriod story of the 2008 MLB season is finally here. Curt Schilling has a mystery right shoulder injury that could possibly end his 2008 season and career altogether. That isn't even the juiciest part of the story. Apparently, Schilling and the Red Sox organization have been bickering on the course of action that should be taken. On his personal blog Curt offers up this:

"There have been disagreements these past few weeks in an effort to provide me with a solution that would allow me to pitch as much as possible during the 2008 season,''

"At no time did I ever consider taking a course of action against the club's wishes. In the end, regardless of who agreed with whom, I have chosen the club's course of action and will vigorously pursue any and every option I can to be able to help this team to another World Series title in 2008.''

The Boston Herald repored that even without surgery Schilling may be out until the All Star Break, if not longer. If Schilling is out for half or most of the season the Red Sox will still boast a top of the line rotation of Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz.

One question that comes to mind is, what happens if the Twins would've held off on the Santana deal with the Mets? The Schilling injury questions may have given the Twins a little more leverage in a deal with a the Red Sox. That would've most likely forced the Yankees to counter attack a better Sox offer.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Prepare for the REVOLUTION!!!

The Rays Revolution is upon us. Many of you may have noticed an increase in our Rays coverage as the MLB season draws closer. We never intended The Stat Pack to become a Rays blog or a blog dedicated to any one team or sport. However, as hardcore Rays fans we feel the need for a place to express ourselves about the team. That leads us to the first Stat Pack spin off blog: Outs Per Swing.

Why the name Outs Per Swing you ask? While my colleague Jules and I were attending a Rays game last year we had the privlege of sitting in front of some very... ummm southern cultured...ummm good ol...well basically they were just rednecks, who obviously didn't follow much baseball. During one Carlos Pena at bat the two gentlemen decided to discuss Pena's stats. Here is a recap of the conversation:

Guy1: What does OPS Mean?

Guy2: Huh?

Guy1: It says he has a .988 OPS.

Guy2: Oh, I dont know...maybe Outs Per Swing.

Guy1: Probably, That's a pretty good Outs Per Swing.

And there you have it, two sabermetrics fans were born. By the ninth inning and ninth beer a piece, Aki Iwamura came up to lead off the inning and our two new Stat gurus greeted him by screaming "COME ON ICHIRO".

So that is the story behind the name. The coverage will be similar to the Rays coverage we've had on TSP, but with more updates and more in depth looks into Rays games, moves and any news regarding the team. We will also continue to have interivews with various players and writers on both OPS and TSP.

TSP will continue to provide you with a wide range of coverage tackling all sports, including major news from the other 29 MLB teams not named "RAYS". Also be on the look out for an increase in NBA coverage.

We thank you all for your readership and look forward to many big things for both The Stat Pack and Outs Per Swing. We will leave you with this for you viewing pleasure. The old logo never looked so good.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Slow Afternoon

Work is a little slow today, so we had some fun with Orestes Destrade of ESPN. Orestes played four seasons in the Majors and five more in the Japanese-Pacific League. He was also an executive in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays organization.

Jules (TheStatpack): What do you think about this years Caribbean Series, Orestes?

Orestes Destrade: Either of the 2 DR teams will take it. Licey looking to avenge their loss to the Aguilas in the DR championship last wk. Mex and Ven can't hang this yr with either DR teams. Especially, when they are hosting it in Santiago and playing in front on their fans. Having played there, it's crazy world cup soccer atmosphere right now! I am sorry to see that PR did not have a winter season due to economic team issues. baseball is really struggling to survive over there...that's another stroy we'll talk about another time.

Jules (TheStatPack)Have you helped the Rays at all in their building of Latin American training schools.

Orestes Destrade: Ironically, when I was with them for those 4 yrs as an exec I helped much more in creating a connection with my Japan ties and their subsequent exchanging of players thru the yrs. They have a verry good latin american guy in Connie Alfonso.

Bob (Lowell, Ma): I don't think BK can be considered the best as long as you have the Wizard of Westwood in the mix.

Orestes Destrade: With you on that...Wooden hands down, then it's the Dean, then BK for me.

Jules (TheStatPack)Where do you rank Coach K then?

Orestes Destrade: Top five with Rupp.

Jules (TheStatPack)Rupp? Even though he was a racist and refused to recruit black players?

Orestes Destrade: Racist were all over the sports world back then. We can't change that...he was a great coach, who won often. Just like BK is in my top 5 though, he wasn't the sweetest guy on the block!

JBG (Scranton, PA)Jules brought his chat A-game today.

JW: Thanks big guy

Bob (Chicago)O, you've mentioned hitting the batting cages before, but do you play in any pickup games or even something more organized?

Orestes Destrade: I used to until a couple yrs back. I would player/coach a wood bat summer college league(actually, over 19yr league). Now, i just hit for the fun and cardio and play in 4 or 5 charity MLBPAA games around the east coast.

Jules (TheStatPack)wood bat summer college league aka slow pitch beer league softball

Orestes Destrade: Ouch, Jules...actually, a very competitive league. Infact, a few yrs ago I faced Joe Blanton in this Nashville league before he was drafted. Several others are in AA and AAA.

Tommy(TheStatPack)Its 82 and sunny in Florida. Rays report in 9 days...Is there anything better than ST?

Orestes Destrade: If i may for aun momento...there really isn't. I have sooo many great memories of ST as a player, but also as a kid im Miami with the O's there. Fun, sun, baseball, beaches, baseball, sidewalk cafes, etc...

Jules (TheStatPack)Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure Orestes. How well do you think you would have done vs Kazmir in your prime?

Orestes Destrade: I'd OWN him in my prime!!!!!!!! Tough, in my prime, he'd only be 5 yrs,old yet, I'd OWN him!!!!!!!

Vercetti(Tampa)Jules obviously doesn't know that while he was in grade school you were busy Smashing the Japan Series and Kazuhiro Kiyohara

Orestes Destrade: V for Vendetta!!! Thanks bro...I'll say this, just like the slogan, The older I get...the better I was Atleast in my head!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Problem with James Shields Mechanics?

Thanks to our friends at DRaysbay for putting this into my head. During yesterdays chat with Baseball Prospectus’s David Laurila, some concern regarding James Shields mechanics was raised. See Below:

Dennis (LA): Thanks for your great work. Your interview with Brian Bannister was one of the best things I read all year last year. Just wanted to ask you your opinion on two players: James Shields and Nick Swisher. What do you see in their futures and who do you think is the more valuable player?

David Laurila: Thanks, Dennis. Bannister makes any interviewer look good.

I recently had someone opine to me concern about Shields' mechanics, specifically that they haven't been consistent over the course of his career. Granted, that's not my opinion -- I'm only passing along what I heard -- but if true it poses a question.

Swisher can hit. Given a choice of the two, I'd take Swisher.

jlarsen (DRays Bay): Could Shields' changing mechanics be due to him regaining velocity and control post-surgeries(I think he's had one kind of reconstructive surgery already)?

David Laurila: This might be a good question for Doug Thorburn. I'll put it on the list, as it's better to get an expert opinion than my own.

I quickly took out the good ol’email address book and asked a pitching mechanics expert if he's seen anything in Shields that should be of concern. My source explained that Shields inconsistency is due to the fact that many different people have tried to get him to develop a “real breaking ball.” The source went on to mention that as long as Shields has a plus change up, he only needs a “show-me” breaking ball to be successful, and also that Jim Hickey is a great fit for Shields.

Bob Knight could be your new Boss

Bob Knight resigned last night as Texas Tech head coach. His son Pat Knight will take over the team. If you have a nice boss give them a hug today or buy them lunch because this guy could be your boss.

Rays Willy Aybar arrested on Domestic Violence Charges.

Willy Aybar was arrested last week in the Dominican Republic on domestic violence charges. Aybar has been held without bail since last Thursday and may be in jail until May. For all those who thought Elijah Dukes was bad, Willy Aybar seems worse. However, we've seen players arrested in other countries and be aquitted before i.e. Juan Uribe.

The impact on the Rays could actually be pretty big. Willy Aybar was figured to be Joel Guzman's left handed platoon partner to start the season at third base. Aybar was also expected to be the utility man on the team. Now because of Aybar's latest set back, The Rays may bring in a veteran who can play multiple positions or they may be inclined to have top prospect Evan Longoria start the season in the majors.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sloth wins SuperBowl

Hey you guyssss!

Cheer up New England Patriots fans you still have Wes Welker.

The sky has fallen over the North East corner of the USA. The Pats went 18-Oh, 18-No, and in case you haven't heard they lost the Super Bowl. Fear not Chowdah's you still have the record holder for single game Super Bowl Receptions: Wes Welker aka "The Bunny Rabbit" aka "Thumper".

Seriously, how many days till people start flipping out over the fact Belichick went for it on 4th and 13, leaving a possible 3 points on the field in a game the Patriots ended up losing by 3 points. I could see 4th and 1 or maybe 4th and 5, but 4th and 13? How many plays does Josh McDaniels have in the playbook for 4th and 13? Obviously none that work.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

NY Giants Superbowl Champions:Eli Manning, David Tyree come up strong for Giants

The star of the night was much-maligned youngster Eli Manning, who in just one calendar year has gone from poster child of inconsistency to Super Bowl hero. Manning's efforts were duplicated by a large number of unheralded players on offense, an offense that was surprisingly more efficient than New England's. Fourth-string Wide Receiver David Tyree caught two huge passes in the fourth quarter, the first being a touchdown with just under 11 minutes left that gave the Giants a 10-7 lead, but then even after New England marched down the field to take a 14-10 lead late in the game, Tyree came up big again with one of the most remarkable catches in Super Bowl history. On 3rd-and-5 with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, Manning somehow slipped away from a pass rush that seemed to have swallowed him and rifled a pass that traveled nearly fifty yards in the air, which Tyree caught it by pressing it against his helmet with a defender hanging all over him. Manning made two more clutch throws on the drive, the first of which was on 3rd-and-11 where he threw a sideline route that wide receiver Steve Smith caught and tiptoed down the hashmarks towards a first down. On the very next play, Manning's favorite target during the regular season, Plaxico Burress, broke away from Ellis Hobbs and waltzed into the endzone, catching the uncontested pass and putting the Giants on top for good. Burress' touchdown catch was only his second catch of the entire game.

New York's tenacious defensive pressure was what kept the game close for the duration, as they put Brady on the turf thirteen different times, sacking him five. All season long, Brady has seemingly had a forcefield around him in the pocket as his offensive line would pick up blitz package after blitz package and allow Brady to scan the field for one of his multiple weapons. We saw flashes of that offensive brilliance tonight, but the Giants were able to stifle the attack long enough to keep the game in reach, and they ended up with the last chance to put points on the board, and converted. It's great to witness this event for Michael Strahan, one of the most recognizable faces in the entire league because of that always-present smile, and also among the classiest and most well-spoken in the NFL. He finally has a ring after 15 years. Also, this is a team who won it without Tiki Barber, who was arguably a top five running back in each of his last two years with the team.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Top 100 Prospects of 2008 from Scouts Inc. & Baseball Prospectus analyzed

As promised, here is a more in depth look at the Top 100 Lists of ESPN/Scouts Inc. and Baseball Prospectus. Of course I will start off with the Rays list. Nine Rays made the Top 100 on Scouts Inc. highlighted by: Evan Longoria(1), Desmond Jennings(11), Wade Davis(15), David Price(16) and Jake McGee(26), giving the Rays five out of the top 26 prospects. Rounding out the nine Rays were Reid Brignac (49), Fernando Perez (72), Jeremy Hellickson (75), and John Jaso (78). Not too much to argue with here besides maybe Reid Brignac. Last year's consensus best SS in the minor leagues takes a bit of a hit this year, falling behind Carlos Triunfel (18, Mariners), Elvis Andrus(31, Rangers), and Mike Moustakas (47, Royals). Brignac did take a step back last year offensively, .260/.328/.433, but from most accounts made strides defensively towards becoming a Major League defender as SS. This season will no doubt be a huge year for Brignac, not only to prove his '07 season was a one year slide, but also the addition of Jason Barlett means the Rays now have a legit option at SS for the future besides Brignac. With the lack of a RF prospect one interesting idea would be, if his defense regresses, to move Brignac to Right, where the Rays plan to platoon players this year. Other than that I really don't have many Rays related gripes with Scouts Inc.'s list.

Now on to Baseball Prospectus list of Rays. Again the Rays had a heavy presence at the top, with five of the top 25 prospects headlined by: Evan Longoria (3), David Price (6), Wade Davis (15), Desmond Jennings (18), and Reid Brignac (25). The only other Ray on the top 100 was Jake McGee (40). Obviously there are some discrepancies between the two lists. The most prevalent, in my opinion, is the number of Rays. Scouts Inc. lists nine, but Baseball Prospectus only lists six. Baseball Prospectus completely left off Jeremy Hellickson, Fernando Perez, and John Jaso. I can't understand why. Perez & Jaso should see a lot of action at AAA Durham this year and maybe even get a taste of the big leagues come September. In our recent interview Jim Callis , he said that John Jaso has a chance to be the everyday catcher for the Rays if he can stay healthy. Fernando Perez has an outside chance to crack the Majors this year as the fourth outfielder. If something should happen to Baldelli or Floyd, or most likely both, he could see significant time in a talented Rays outfield. Jeremy Hellickson is still probably two years away and most likely will spend the bulk of his season at High Class A Vero Beach, but he is leader of the next group of arms behind the more advanced Price, McGee, Davis, Niemann, and Talbot.

The rest of the BP Rays list is interesting. Evan Longoria is ranked 3rd behind Jay Bruce (1) and Clay Buchholz (2). I have no problem with Bruce being first. Most people have Bruce and Longoria 1st and 2nd in either order. However, I think this is the first time I've seen Buchholz ranked not only over Longoria, but also Joba Chamberlain who checked in the list at four. I think of it this way, who would I rather have to start a franchise Buchholz or Longoria? I'm taking Longoria all day. I believe the comparisons to David Wright are not only flattering, but very true. If the comparison does pan out then Longoria will be a perennial All Star and MVP candidate. I can't really argue with Desmond Jennings at 18 or Davis at 15. I believe Desmond Jennings is a potential impact player, but I'll see how he does at High A or Double A first before arguing for him to be higher on the list. Davis at 15 is fine and I expect him to be Top 5 or 10 at the least next year. I was very surprised to see Price ranked as high as 6 since he hasn't thrown a professional pitch yet. I've heard all types of projections on Price. One projection early on had him coming in this spring with a chance at the Majors, but most expect him to start at AA Montgomery and quickly rise to the Majors as soon as late August or early September.

The final two on the Baseball Prospectus list are Reid Brignac and Jake McGee. At number 25, Reid Brignac is the second SS on the list behind Moustakas, who most believe is likely not going to be a SS long. The other two SS that were in front of Reid on the Scouts Inc. list, Triunfel and Andrus, check in considerably lower on this list at 55 and 58 respectively. I guess it’s who you ask about Reid Brignac, as there seems to be no consensus to where he belongs. The final Ray on the list is Jake McGee, checking in at 40. The knock on McGee is his lack of a secondary out pitch behind his fastball. I'm interested to see how he progresses this year, where he likely will spend a lot of time at AA Montgomery. If he can develop another one or two above average pitches to round out his arsenal he should be a serious candidate for the top 10 next year. If not, all is not lost with McGee as the Rays maybe able to convert him into a dominate late inning reliever.

That's it for the Rays portion of the lists. I have just a few tidbits on the other names on the two lists. First, Lars Anderson 1B for the Red Sox. Scouts Inc. has him solidly in the top half of their list at 28, while he barely made the Baseball Prospectus list coming in at 100. Again, referring back to our interview with Baseball America's Jim Callis he says, "I think Red Sox first baseman Lars Anderson is going to make a leap forward this year and become recognized as one of the very best hitters in the minors." Like Reid Brignac, I guess it's all about who you ask with Anderson.

Two other names I wanted to look at because of the recent Johan Santana trade were OF's Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez. Gomez is the center piece of the deal and is regarded as the Twins CF of the future if the deal is completed. On Scouts Inc, Gomez checks in at 35, but on BP he's in the lower half at 65. Either way, I feel that Gomez as the center piece is way too low for the greatest pitcher on the face of the planet. The other player in the talks surrounding the trade was Fernando Martinez. Martinez is regarded by most, if not all, as the #1 prospect in the Mets system. The big gripe from the Twins supporters was they traded Santana without getting the Mets crown jewel in return. Scouts Inc. has Martinez at 10 while Baseball Prospectus has him just in the lower half at 51. That’s a pretty big difference. Is he a top 10 player or a barely a top 50 player? Martinez has huge power potential and is an above average defender in CF. He started last season at AA Binghamton at age 18....yes I said 18. An injury cut his season short, but even at age 19 in AA he is on the fact track to the Majors, and a big kudos to Omar Minaya for being able to land Santana (potentially) without giving up his blue chipper.

Ok my fingers have officially cramped up and my eyes are bleeding, but there you have our recap of the Top 100 list of Scouts Inc. and Baseball Prospectus. Of course, each writer and analyst has their own criteria and their own judgments, so no list is perfect. Remember, the Rays own Edwin Jackson was once one of the top prospects in baseball and we're still waiting on him to show that he's even an average starter. We respect Keith Law(Scouts Inc.) and Kevin Goldstein(Baseball Prospectus) tremendously and it will be fun to check up on this list in the next few years to see who's made it, who was a bust and who came out of nowhere to became a star. We expect to have another list from Baseball America soon, so I need to recover so we can do this all over again soon.

Rob Neyer is at it again

BJ Upton had a great season in Center last year after moving from the infield. He finally hit like everyone expected him to and played well defensively. He tied for first in OPS+ among Center Fielders with Curtis Granderson. Now he's crowned as Rob Neyer's best Center Fielder for the next five years:

"As a hitter, Granderson was a bit over his head last season, but he's obviously an outstanding player. What shocks me is that Upton, four years younger, was just as good with the bat. The Rays spent far too long realizing that Upton's not an infielder, and it's impossible to know how he'll fare in center field, long term. But he's always looked like a center fielder to me, and I have a faith-based belief that he'll be just fine out there."

Congrats BJ.