Monday, November 28, 2011

Astros get OK to talk to Rays GM

The Astros have received permission to talk to Tampa Bay's Andrew Friedman about their GM vacancy and he's Houston's top choice, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Report: Astros have asked to talk to Friedman

The Houston Astros have "made the call" to ask the Tampa Bay Rays for permission to speak with Andrew Friedman about their vacant general manager's position, according to Jim Bowden on SiriusXM's Inside Pitch today. Bowden said he didn't know what the answer was.

Rays, free-agent catcher finalize contract

The Rays have formally announced signing catcher Jose Molina to a one-year contract with a club option for 2013. The 36-year-old is a 12-year major league veteran, hit a career-high .281 this year with Toronto and is known for his defense.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Jaso traded for reliever who was accused of rape

Former Biscuits catcher John Jaso has a new major league home. The Rays traded Jaso, who was with Montgomery in 2007-08, to the Seattle Mariners for relief pitcher Josh Lueke and a player to be named or cash considerations.

Jaso has been with Tampa Bay for parts of the last four seasons. The 28-year-old had a .224 average, five home runs and 27 RBIs in 89 games this year. In 2010, the first where he saw considerable playing time, Jaso hit .263 with 44 RBIs and 59 walks in 109 games.

Lueke, who turns 27 on Dec. 5, went to the Seattle organization last year as part of the trade that sent Cliff Lee to the Texas Rangers. Lueke finished with a 6.06 ERA in 25 major league appearances. He started the year with the Mariners before spending three months in Triple-A. Lueke had a 3.41 ERA in Seattle from July 18 through the end of the season.

Lueke, while part of the Texas system, pleaded no contest in 2009 to rape and sodomy charges in Bakersfield, Calif., stemming from a May 2008 incident while he was in Class A. (Details here.)

“Josh has the stuff to get hitters out in the American League East and began to show that during the second half of last season,” Rays general manager Andrew Friedman said in a release. “We believe he can be an important part of our success here for many years."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's Iron Bowl time, yet again

We're here at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the Iron Bowl. Just before kickoff, let's remember ...

Once again, on this day of our state's annual apocalypse, let me assure you: Neither side has a monopoly on the unwashed, heathen, redneck, snaggletooth morons. Both sides have heaping helpings.

Here are a couple of pictures I took before the game. The flier was at Toomer's Corner and the other was on the walk between Toomer's and the stadium (forgive the orientation) ...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bortnick on Topps Class A list

Future Biscuits second baseman Tyler Bortnick was named to the Topps Class A all-star team today.

Bortnick had 43 steals and a .428 on-base percentage this year for Charlotte and led the Florida State League in both categories.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Former D-Jaxx slugger stabbed to death

Greg Halman, a former top prospect of the Seattle Mariners and Southern League All-Star who played 35 games in the majors this year, has been stabbed to death in the Netherlands.

He was 24.

Halman was stabbed to death and his brother has been arrested, according to the Seattle Times. Halman hit 35 home runs for the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx between 2008-09 and was a Southern League All-Star in 2009. He first reached Seattle in 2010.

Mark your calendar for Rays' spring training

The Rays will have 16 home spring training games, the most in the team's history, in 2012. The team released its spring schedule today. Tickets cost between $9 and $27 with individual game tickets to go on sale in January.

All games 1:05 p.m. Eastern unless noted.

20 pitchers, catchers report
25 position players report
3 at Twins
4 Twins
5 Orioles
6 Twins
7 at Yankees
8 (split squad) host Tigers, at Twins
9 Orioles
10 at Red Sox
11 Pirates
12 Twins
13 at Orioles
14 Marlins
15 Phillies
16 at Blue Jays
17 at Pirates
18 Red Sox
19 off
20 at Marlins
21 Yankees
22 at Pirates
23 Blue Jays, 7:05
24 at Twins, 3:05
25 Marlins
26 at Twins
27 at Red Sox, 7:05
28 Pirates, 7:05
29 at Phillies
30 at Pirates
31 Red Sox
1 at Orioles
2 Twins
3 at Twins
4 TBA (at Tropicana Field)
6 Opening Day

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Biscuits to open holiday store at EastChase

The Biscuits are adding a second gift shop for the holiday season. The "other" Biscuit Basket will open its doors Monday at the Shoppes at EastChase and stay open through Christmas Eve. The location at Riverwalk Stadium will also be open for holiday shopping.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Surprise falls in AFL championship game

Surprise's bid for the best record in Arizona Fall League history fell short today with a 9-3 loss to Salt River in the league championship game.

Future Biscuits outfielder Mikie Mahtook had two of Surprise's eight hits and scored a run. Former Biscuits shortstop Tim Beckham doubled. Future Biscuits reliever Adam Liberatore gave up a hit in 1 1/3 innings.

The Saguaros finished 26-11. The .703 winning percentage was just shy of the .705 by Mesa in 1999 (31-13).

Crawford added to Toronto's 40-man roster

Prattville native Evan Crawford has gone on Toronto's 40-man roster, giving the left-handed pitcher an major league spring training invitation and a spot in the players' union.

Crawford, who played at Auburn, had a 3.18 ERA in 17 innings in the Arizona Fall League. He had a 3.35 ERA in 45 games at Double-A New Hampshire this year.

Friday, November 18, 2011

McWhorter's funeral today

Mack McWhorter, a longtime baseball figure in Montgomery on the diamond, in the dugout and in the front office, will be remembered today with a funeral service at 1 p.m. at Leak Memory Chapel.

McWhorter died Tuesday. He was 89.

McWhorter played for the Montgomery Rebels from 1948-51 and went on to both manage and own the team. He was the only person to fill all three roles. He was also a proponent of the Biscuits.

In 1974, McWhorter was the owner of the Rebels when they had Jim Leyland as their manager. Leyland went on to major league fame, won a World Series with the Florida Marlins in 1997 and is now with the Detroit Tigers.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Saguaros one win from AFL's all-time best record

The Arizona Fall League team stocked with future and former Biscuits and led by Biscuits manager Billy Gardner is one win from league history.

The Surprise Saguaros, with a win in Saturday’s league championship game, will finish with the best record in AFL history.

The Saguaros, after a 12-2 win over Salt River in Thursday’s regular-season finale, are 26-10. They meet Salt River again Saturday for the league title and that game counts in their win-loss record. The 1999 Mesa team holds the AFL record with a .705 winning percentage (31-13).

Saturday’s championship will start at 2:05 p.m. and be televised by MLB Network.

40-man guessing: Rays to add 2

With the Rule 5 draft looming next month, the Rays could -- any day -- add some players to their 40-man roster and shield them from other teams.

The college draft picks from 2008 and high schoolers from 2007 are eligible for the Rule 5 for the first time. Also, Tampa Bay currently has five open spots on its 40-man, according to the roster at

Who will they protect? (And they don't have to fill every spot.)

I say two.

Pitcher Nick Barnese is eligible for the Rule 5 for the first time. Stephen Vogt, a catcher/first baseman/outfielder/hitter, is eligible for a second time.

I only looked at those players Tampa Bay originally drafted, so this list isn't conclusive, but the others I pondered were: Shane Dyer, Neil Schenk, Marquis Fleming and Shawn O'Malley.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rays' Maddon wins AL award

Rays manager Joe Maddon won the AL manager of the year award today.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hellickson wins AL rookie award

Former Biscuits pitcher Jeremy Hellickson won the American League rookie of the year award today.

The 24-year-old right-hander, who was 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA this season for the Rays, is the second former Biscuit to win the rookie award (Evan Longoria in 2008) and just the second AL starting pitcher to win in the last 30 years (Detroit's Justin Verlander in 2006).

Atlanta reliever Craig Kimbrel, a Huntsville native, was the unanimous National League winner.

Hellickson, who received 17 of 28 first-place votes, finished ahead of Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer and Yankees pitcher Ivan Nova.

Hellickson was a combined 7-5 with a 3.27 ERA for Montgomery in 2008-09.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dyer removed from AFL roster

Right-hander Shane Dyer, who was with the Biscuits this year, was removed from the Arizona Fall League's Surprise roster Friday. Not sure why. He last pitched Nov. 2 when he won with five innings of two-run ball. Dyer was 2-1 with a 4.38 ERA in six starts.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pittsburgh picks up Harrison

Former Biscuits infielder Vince Harrison has been hired by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a minor league coach.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rays' AFL team clinches championship appearance

Biscuits manager Billy Gardner and his Surprise Saguaros clinched the Arizona Fall League West Division title Wednesday.

The Saguaros' 10-7, 10-inning win over the Peoria Javelinas gave them an eight-game lead with just seven games to play. Surprise will be the home team for the Nov. 19 AFL championship game.

The Saguaros are 21-8 and, if they win at least five of their last seven games, will have the top winning percentage in AFL history, according to The Mesa Solar Sox were 31-13 (.705) in 1999.

As far as the former/future Biscuits on the team ...
SS Tim Beckham .247-4 HRs-14 RBIs in 19 games
IF Tyler Bortnick .267-1-3 in 13
OF Mikie Mahtook .352-1-8 in 14

RHP Shane Dyer 2-1 record, 4.38 ERA in 24.2 innings
RHP Marquis Fleming 1-0, 4.76 in 11.1
LHP Adam Liberatore 1-0, 3.86 in 11.2
RHP Kirby Yates 0-0, 7.50 in 6

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Vickers wins MiLB award for top woman executive

Biscuits general manager Marla Vickers on Minor League Baseball's woman executive of the year award Wednesday, capping her first year as the team's GM.

MiLB will honor Vickers during December's winter meetings in Dallas.

The Biscuits, according to a minor league baseball release, increased their sales figures in several areas this year. That differs from figures filed with the city as part of the team's rent agreement.

The rent is compiled from nine categories: tickets, group tickets, group picnics, retail, suites, parking, concessions, catering services and sponsorship. Only one saw an increase from fiscal year 2010 to 2011.

Catering services had a 1.3 percent increase of $3,714. Two other categories had decreases of less than 1 percent. Three others decreased from 1.4-5.5 percent. The total operating revenue from the nine categories was down 4.4 percent to just more than $4.6 million.

7:18 update: Vickers said there were increases in some specific venues, like picnic areas, and admitted the press release was vague. Otherwise ...

On winning: "I was very surprised when I found out that I won. There are a lot of very hardworking and deserving women in minor league baseball. I was very honored to receive the award."

On what her staff can expect as a prize: "It's definitely a credit to all the staff, their hard work and their ideas. We'll have a nice little celebration around the office. To be determined."

Friday, November 04, 2011

Gardner to manage in Rising Stars game

Montgomery manager Billy Gardner will lead the West team in the Arizona Fall League's Rising Stars game Saturday. Gardner's Surprise Saguaros entered Friday with a seven-game lead in the AFL West. The Rising Stars game is at 6 p.m. Saturday on the MLB Network.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Biscuits hit low for yearly rent total

The Biscuits were at their weakest at the cash register this season, according to documents filed with the city as part of the team's quarterly rent payment.

The team paid $137,674 to cover the city's portion of stadium revenue for the months of July, August and September. The payment, which was due Monday, also brought an end to the 2011 fiscal year.

The team brought in a franchise-worst $4,641,100 for the year, just less than the $4,678,245 total from 2009. The Biscuits also drew a franchise-low 257,268 in attendance.

The $4.6 million still exceeds pro forma projections for the year used by the city council when it approved construction of Riverwalk Stadium in 2002. The projections called for just more than $3.5 million.

Since the stadium opened in April 2004, the team's revenue exceeds $43 million, according to city documents. The team has paid almost $4.7 million in rent, including almost $366,000 this year.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

2 future Biscuits among AFL's 'Rising Stars'

One of next year's Biscuits -- and another who could be -- have been picked for this year's Arizona Fall League Rising Stars game.

Infielder Tyler Bortnick and outfielder Mikie Mahtook will play in Saturday's game, which starts at 6 p.m. and will be shown on the MLB Network.

Bortnick shined this season for high-Class A Charlotte. Mahtook was a first-round draft pick in June from LSU and, with the Rays sending him to the AFL for his debut, could rise quickly through the system.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Moore already working out to prepare for 2012

Former Biscuits pitcher Matt Moore, appearing today on Sirius XM's "Power Alley" show, said he has been given no indication if he'll start the 2012 season with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Moore, who won the Topps minor league player of the year award Monday, will experience his first major league spring training next year. After the way he ended the 2011 season, he could break camp with the Rays.

"I'm going to show up in spring training and be ready to go," Moore said from Arizona, where he said he's in his second week of workouts.

"If I make the team, great. If not, I'm going to go down and pitch wherever they tell me to until it's time to go again."