Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ria Cortesio released by minor leagues

Ria Cortesio, the female umpire who has been in the Southern League for five years, has been released by the minor leagues.

City rolls in Biscuits' dough

The Biscuits made their quarterly rent payment today and counted out more than $274,000 to the city.

The $274,055.87 payment pushed the team's rent total for fiscal year 2007 to $727,365.33. In four years, the Biscuits have paid more than $2.9 million in rent.

The team totaled more than $5.9 million in revenue in the areas it shares with the city as rent, virtually matching its total from fiscal year 2006. The two years differed by less than $40,000.

Areas of revenue interest for fiscal year 2007 ...
Concessions $1,398,522.68
Tickets $1,311,996 (lowest in team's four years, $80,000 less than '05)
Sponsorships $1,200,735 (highest in team's four years)
Group tickets $540,962.50
Retail $491,466.23

The Biscuits totaled 311,872 in announced regular-season attendance this year, 8,800 more than in 2005. They drew almost 323,000 their inaugural year and almost 314,000 in 2006.

The rent is based on a percentage of sales at Riverwalk Stadium. In most areas, the city gets 10 percent after sales tax. In areas without sales tax, the team gets 33 percent. The city gets 100 percent of parking.

The team still exceeds projections used by the city when it approved stadium construction in December 2002. Fourth-year predictions called for 220,000 in attendance and $498,484.90 in total rent.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Birkins' stock goes to Rays

The Rays snagged Baltimore left-handed pitcher Kurt Birkins off the waiver wire today and dropped catcher Raul Casanova from the 40-man roster.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rays add outfielder, release pitcher

The Devil Rays have added outfielder Chris Snelling and released pitcher Jay Witasick. Tampa Bay claimed Snelling off waivers from the Oakland A's and released Witasick to make room on the 40-man roster.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tillery hopes to hoe Rockies road

Here's one guy with Montgomery ties who will be in anguish over the World Series. Start your pity now.

Brad Tillery, the former Biscuits intern and BTW Magnet/Auburn University graduate best known for his awful "water sprinkler" on-field dance move (representation at left, though it's not Tillery), is a huge Colorado Rockies fan. He used to live in Denver and grew to love the Rox.

Tillery is now the radio voice of the Lansing Lugnuts. He's exiled to the press box, which saves fans from viewing any more of those moves (representation also at left).

I'll say Red Sox in five, which will please Tillery's boss. Lansing general manager Pat Day , formerly an assistant GM with the Biscuits, is a Boston fan. He doesn't show it as much as Tillery.

Of course, Tillery has his own prediction.

And the major-league umpire with Alabama ties drew a World Series assignment. Chuck Meriwether graduated from Athens State. Meriwether works third base tonight and will have the plate for Game 4. He's a 16-year major-leaguer and has one previous World Series (2004).

Friday, October 12, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Martinez named Tampa Bay bench coach

Former major-leaguer Dave Martinez has been hired as Tampa Bay's bench coach, the Rays announced today. He replaces Bill Evers, whose contract was not renewed after this season.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rays release 2008 schedule

The Devil Rays won't travel to Atlanta, so there won't be an easy opportunity to see former Biscuits next year.

However, if you can travel to Tampa Bay, might I suggest somewhere between April 8-27? The Rays play 17 home games in that 19-day stretch. Tampa Bay also has a 10-game homestand May 23-June 1 and two nine-gamers: June 12-22 and Aug. 26-Sept. 4.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Perez jots down end-of-season journal

Fernando Perez wraps up the season and his player journal at To me, the most interesting stuff was about some of the advice coaches gave him this year. Perez is also looking for an offseason job.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

McGee tops Davis on FSL list

Baseball America ranked Jake McGee over Wade Davis in its annual list of the Florida State League's Top 20 prospects.

McGee is third and Davis fourth, while first baseman Rhyne Hughes crept in at 20th on the 20-player list. Davis might also land on the Southern League list, which is due out Monday.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Biscuits represented in major-league playoffs

Former Biscuits pitcher Jose Veras is on the New York Yankees' roster for the American League Division Series. He's the first former Biscuit to be on a major-league playoff roster.

Also, umpire Chuck Meriwether is working the Rockies-Phillies series. Why should we care? Because he's a graduate of Alabama's Athens State University. Former major-leaguer Gary Redus, a friend from long ago, was at Athens State at the same time and always kept up with Chuck.

Booker, Rasmus joining Longoria in Taiwan

Monroeville's Chris Booker and Russell County High's Colby Rasmus will be teammates of former Biscuit Evan Longoria on Team USA in the International Baseball Federation World Cup, which will be Nov. 6-18 in Taiwan.

USA Baseball announced the 24-man roster today. The roster is made up of top professionals not currently on a major-league team's 25-man roster.

Booker is with the Washington Nationals and reached the major leagues this season. Rasmus was a first-round draft pick in 2005 of the St. Louis Cardinals, is the team's No. 1 prospect and was a Texas League All-Star at Class AA Springfield this year. Outfielder Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds, who was named Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year, is also on the U.S. squad.

The roster includes two players who were also on the team last year that qualified the United States to play in the 2008 Beijing Olympics: pitcher Heath Phillips of the Chicago White Sox and pitcher Lee Gronkiewicz of the Toronto Blue Jays. Former Biscuit Jeff Ridgway also was on the team, which beat Cuba in Havana for the qualifying tournament championship.

Roster (major-league team) ...
LHP -- Jerry Blevins (Oakland), Brian Duensing (Minnesota), Neil Musser (Kansas City), Josh Outman (Philadelphia), Heath Phillips (Chicago White Sox)
RHP -- Chris Booker (Washington), Lee Gronkiewicz (Toronto), Jeff Karstens (N.Y. Yankees), Chris Perez (St. Louis), Steven Shell (L.A. Angels), Jeff Stevens (Cleveland), Dallas Trahem (Detroit)

C -- Bryan Anderson (St. Louis), Jason Jaramillo (Philadelphia)
IF -- Brian Bixler (Pittsburgh), Michael Hollimon (Detroit), Andy LaRoche (L.A. Dodgers), Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay), Jayson Nix (Colorado), Steven Pearce (Pittsburgh)
OF -- Jay Bruce (Cincinnati), Tyler Colvin (Chicago Cubs), Colby Rasmus (St. Louis), Delwyn Young (L.A. Dodgers)

USA tournament schedule ...
Nov. 7 vs. Mexico, 6 p.m. Taiwan time, 4 a.m. CST
Nov. 8 vs. Panama, noon Taiwan, 10 p.m. Nov. 7 CST
Nov. 9 vs. Italy, noon Taiwan, 10 p.m. Nov. 8 CST
Nov. 10 vs. Japan, 6 p.m. Taiwan, 4 a.m. CST
Nov. 11 vs. Spain, 6 p.m. Taiwan, 4 a.m. CST
Nov. 13 vs. South Africa, noon Taiwan, 10 p.m. Nov. 12 CST
Nov. 14 vs. Taiwan, 6 p.m. Taiwan, 4 a.m. CST

Group B includes Cuba, Australia, the Netherlands, Thailand, South Korea, Canada, Germany and Venezuela.

Nov. 16, quarterfinals
Nov. 17, semifinals
Nov. 18, championship

Jaxx sold to Sounds minority owner

The West Tenn Diamond Jaxx have been sold to a group that includes Reese Smith, a minority owner of the Class AAA Nashville Sounds. The deal needs approval of the Southern League, Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball.

The Sounds' plans for a new stadium in Nashville have hit major snags (the city canceled the financing deal this spring) and the Diamond Jaxx have been looking to leave Jackson, Tenn., so maybe a move to Nashville is on the horizon?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Pena, Young win Comeback Player awards

Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena and Washington's Dmitri Young, a former Alabama Christian star, were named Comeback Players of the Year today.

Pena, who made the Devil Rays out of spring training only after an injury to another player, won the AL award. Pena hit .282 and set Rays records with 46 home runs and 121 RBIs this year. He was a non-roster invitee to spring training and wasn't going to make the team until Greg Norton suffered a knee injury in the final exhibition game.

Young had a .320 average, 13 homers and 74 RBIs to win the NL award. The 33-year-old played on Alabama Christian's varsity as a seventh- and eighth-grader. He hit .564 in 1986 and .400 in 1987.

Rays won't renew Evers' contract

The Devil Rays have one coaching position to fill and may have another.

Tampa Bay announced today that bench coach Bill Evers' contract won't be renewed, while no decision has been made on pitching coach Jim Hickey. Third-base coach Tom Foley, hitting coach Steve Henderson, first-base coach George Hendrick and bullpen coach Bobby Ramos are expected to return.

Evers, 53, was hired by the Rays on Oct. 16, 1995, and has been in a Tampa Bay uniform longer than anyone else. He was the manager at Class AAA Durham from 1998-2005 and has been in pro ball as a player, coach or manager since 1976.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Devil Rays pitching coach arrested

Tampa Bay pitching coach Jim Hickey was arrested this morning and charged with DUI, hit and run and resisting arrest without violence.

It came a few hours after the Rays returned from their season finale at Toronto and ended a 66-96 season in which their pitching staff compiled an AL-worst 5.53 ERA and 21 blown saves.

Hickey refused to get out of his car and was removed by St. Petersburg police officers. He was booked into the Pinellas County jail at 3:29 a.m. and made bail at 7:58 a.m.

Jennings named SALLY League's top prospect

Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings has been named the Class A South Atlantic League's top prospect by Baseball America.

The center fielder hit .315 with 45 steals and 75 runs scored this season for the league champion Columbus Catfish. He missed the last month with a knee injury.

Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson ranked eighth and outfielder Ryan Royster ninth.

Jennings is from Pinson Valley and is a former Alabama football signee. He played in the AHSAA Class 5A championship series two years ago at Paterson Field and Riverwalk Stadium.