Monday, July 31, 2006

Wheelings and dealings

The Rays sent shortstop Julio Lugo to the Dodgers today in exchange for minor-leaguers Joel Guzman and Sergio Pedroza.

I guess Tampa Bay's negotiations with Lugo over a long-term contract extension didn't get far (or were only a ploy to draw a better trade offer).

Guzman reached the major leagues this year but was with Class AAA Las Vegas. He's an outfielder now, though he played shortstop last year for the Jacksonville Suns. Guzman was a nice player for the Suns but he's not a major-league shortstop.

B.J. Upton has been promoted to the big leagues after all, three days after the USA Today story. It's not like he said anything too inflammatory. The first thing he should do is ask for a meeting with the entire team so that he can apologize for any hurt feelings. Because he didn't make overly harsh statements and because he doesn't have a history of such, he'll be forgiven soon enough.

Pedroza has 13 games experience at high-Class A Vero Beach. He had a .281 average, 21 home runs and 75 RBIs at low-A Columbus when he was promoted. He'll be headed to the California League.

In news involving a former Biscuit, pitcher Jose Diaz went from the Rangers to the Royals in exchange for first baseman-outfielder Matt Stairs.

Diaz will be on his fifth organization since July 2004. He and Scott Kazmir came to the Devil Rays two years ago in a trade with the Mets. The Indians claimed Diaz off waivers last summer, then didn't offer him a contract for this year. He signed with the Rangers.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

System check

International League South
OF Darnell McDonald, who had a 27-game hitting streak snapped last Sunday, has a .354 average in July with 15 runs scored and 20 RBIs. His season numbers include a .311 average, 52 RBIs and 21 steals.
1B Wes Bankston is hitting .302 with 10 RBIs in 16 games. He has three extra-base hits.
RHP Juan Salas is 1-0 with two saves and a 1.04 ERA in 15 appearances. He's walked six and struck out 21 in 17.1 innings.
C Shawn Riggans has a .288 average, 44 RBIs and 34 runs scored.
SS Ben Zobrist has scored 11 runs and knocked in six in 16 games.
LHP Chris Seddon has won his last two starts and is 8-5 with a 4.77 ERA.
RF Delmon Young is hitting .348 with 23 extra-base hits.
3B B.J. Upton is 44-for-61 on steals, has scored 70 runs and committed 33 errors.
CF Elijah Dukes has a .401 on-base percentage and 58 runs scored.

California League North
3B Evan Longoria has a .440 on-base percentage, six doubles and eight home runs in 24 games. He's hitting .359 with 23 RBIs and 20 runs scored.
CF Fernando Perez has scored 86 runs and stole 28 bases.
SS Reid Brignac is hitting only .245 in July with 16 runs scored and 14 RBIs. He has a .315 average and 19 homers this year.
RHP Chris Mason has lost three of his last four starts. He's 10-6 with a 4.33 ERA in 21 starts.
RHP James Houser is 8-4 with a 4.37 ERA and hasn't lost since May 12.
LHP Jon Barratt, in his last three starts, has allowed 11 hits in 17 innings, walked four and struck out 25.

Midwest League East
RHP Greg Dupas is 3-2 with a 1.35 ERA and is 22-of-26 in save opportunities.
RHP Kevin Lynn is 7-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 35 relief appearances. He's walked five and struck out 57 in 58.2 innings.
RHP Jacob McGee struck out a season-high 11 over six innings Tuesday. He gave up two hits and one run in the no-decision. He's 6-8 this season with a 2.71 ERA and a league-leading 140 strikeouts.
OF James Hall has a .281 average, 33 extra-base hits and 51 RBIs.

New York-Penn League McNamara
RHP Erik Walker has allowed seven hits in 22 innings. He's 3-1 with an 0.82 ERA, four walks and 27 strikeouts.
RHP Jeremy Hellickson has given up 24 hits in 41 innings. He's 1-3 with a 2.20 ERA. On Friday, he allowed three hits over seven innings, walked none, struck out eight and lost.
OF Josh Hamilton is hitting .271 with five RBIs in 14 games.
LHP Ryan Owens is 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA.

Appalachian League East
OF Desmond Jennings has 17 steals and 20 runs scored. He's hitting .265 with 13 walks.
RHP Aneudi Cuevas has a 1.35 ERA, five walks and six strikeouts in 6.2 innings.
3B Michael McCormick is hitting .275 with four home runs and 18 RBIs.

Those who strayed from the Rays
2B Fernando Cortez has two hits in each of his last six games, pushing his average to .254 at Class AAA Omaha (Royals).
LHP Sam Walton is 1-2 with a 1.64 ERA in seven appearances at Class AA Midland (A's).
RF Brian Martin was 3-for-4 with a double, home run, two runs scored and four RBIs Thursday for Class AAA Memphis (Cardinals). He's hitting .297 with 18 RBIs and nine runs scored in 32 games.
RHP Carlos Hines has a 1-1 record, two saves and a 3.92 ERA for Class AAA Fresno (Giants).
RHP Travis Minix is 0-3 with a 2.50 ERA with Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Phillies).
C Iker Franco has a .257 average at Class AA Springfield (Cardinals).
RHP Jose Veras has allowed 42 hits in 49 innings for Class AAA Columbus (Yankees). He's 4-3 with 15 saves and a 2.94 ERA.
2B Dan DeMent is hitting .236 at Class AA Harrisburg (Nationals).
OF Jesus Feliciano has been released by Class AA Harrisburg (Nationals). He was hitting .230.
RHP Willie Glen is 7-2 and has allowed hitters a .241 average with independent Gary.
RHP Josh Parker is 3-6 with a 5.21 ERA for independent Amarillo.
C Robinson Cancel has a .303 average at independent Edinburg. He has nine home runs, 39 RBIs and 19 stolen bases.

Sewer water and such

B.J. Upton and Delmon Young have further delayed their major-league promotions and Elijah Dukes has yet again tarnished his image.

If you haven't seen Friday's USA Today story, it will leave you shaking your head.

To summarize: The three can't believe the Devil Rays still have them at Class AAA Durham.

There is no way the Devil Rays can promote the three to the big leagues now without appearing to pander to the players. All three had already embarrassed the organization this year.

Upton, after moving to third base a few weeks ago, was perhaps about to head up in a few days, but I can't see how Tampa Bay could do that now. He was charged with a DUI in June. Upton doesn't say anything overly derogatory in the story, but it's guilt by association.

Young has played extremely well since returning from his 50-game suspension for throwing a bat at an umpire. He had also stayed out of any type of trouble (that I know of) and looked to be on the cusp of his big-league debut, despite calling the Rays "cheap" last year for not promoting him in September. Young is critical of the Rays again in the story.

Dukes is still Dukes, the churlish boor who has had repeated confrontations with his own coaches and his teammates throughout his career. Twice just this season, he's been suspended by the Rays for run-ins with coaches and teammates. He cracks that they bathe in "sewer water" in the minors, while major-leaguers "shower in Evian." Still, Dukes has major-league talent.

(Was it mere coincidence that each of this year's Dukes incidents happened one day after Young's and Upton's? Just curious.)

Upton will rebound from this, learn from it and move on. For Young, this is another troubling incident and questions over how he'll be in the future remain. Dukes is still Dukes, who will have problems throughout his career.

When the three get around major-leaguers again, they will get a chilly reception. Upton may get it in September, the other two in spring training.

There have been so many troubling incidents in Durham this year, including manager John Tamargo drawing a 10-game suspension for bumping another umpire, that one Biscuit made an amazing statement. He'd rather stay in Class AA for the rest of this year than be subjected to the mess in Durham.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ruggiano turning into Biscuit

Outfielder Justin Ruggiano is trading in his Jacksonville uniform for some butter and blue.

The Devil Rays added Ruggiano from the Los Angeles Dodgers and are sending him to the Biscuits, according to

Ruggiano, who had a .260 average with nine home runs and 45 RBIs in 89 games with the Suns, is the player to be named later in a trade between the Rays and Dodgers last month. Tampa Bay sent pitcher Mark Hendrickson, catcher Toby Hall and a wad of cash to LaLa Land for pitcher Jae Seo and catcher Dioner Navarro.

Montgomery will have to make an additional transaction to clear roster space for Ruggiano. The Biscuits' front office is expected to officially announce the moves at some point this week.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Durham no-hitter

Jason Hammel and Juan Salas combined on a no-hitter Sunday for Durham.

Hammel worked 8 1/3 innings and Salas got the final two outs in the Bulls' 4-1 win over the Columbus Clippers. Columbus scored in the ninth on a hit batsman, two errors and a wild pitch.

According to Tampa Bay's media guide, it's the fifth no-hitter in the Rays' organization. None of the previous four were combined no-hitters.

Jason Standridge -- June 28, 1999 with low-A Charleston (S.C.), seven innings
Doug Waechter -- Aug. 10, 2000 with short-season Hudson Valley
Gerardo Garcia -- May 22, 2002 with Class AA Orlando
Chad Gaudin -- July 15, 2003 with Class AA Orlando, a seven-inning perfect game

I've seen four no-hitters, but one barely counts.

In college, three pitchers combined on a rainy, six-inning perfect game. Hey, the school still claims it. Fortunately, I've seen more.

While I was in college, I witnessed two within two weeks. It was toward the end of a summer term when a friend and I decided to make the 40-minute drive to the nearest minor-league franchise, which was playing a doubleheader. A third friend declined to go because he had to study or something. Game 1 was the no-no. When the two of us got back to campus, we called the third guy: "Hey, you missed a no-hitter."

Two weeks later, it was the day or two before the fall term started. The same friend and I made the same drive. The same third friend declined to go. It was a combined no-hitter. When we got back, we (of course) called: "Hey, you missed another one." Hysterical laughter on our part followed.

In 1999, I went to a series at Bank One Ballpark (hasn't the name changed?) in Phoenix. Jose Jimenez of the St. Louis Cardinals tied up with Arizona's Randy Johnson. The Big Unit was going through a month where he might have given up a combined 15 hits and didn't win a game. He didn't win that night, either. I remember the Seventh Inning Stretch came about the 1-hour, 10-minute mark and Buck Showalter arguing a nothing call to try to distract Jimenez. It didn't matter.

There was a near-miss in 1998, one that I remember because it was at Dodger Stadium and their fans backed up their reputation. Chan Ho Park was perfect after seven. There were two fans next to me. During the bottom of the seventh, one looked at the other and uttered the phrase: "Let's go. We can listen to Vin (Scully) for the rest of this one." There might have been a confrontation had they seen my facial expression. Jason Kendall hit Park's first pitch of the eighth inning for the Pirates' lone hit.

One major joy that 1998 night was knowing that the AP would send out a no-hitter bulletin after six innings and my co-workers would see it, realize I was at the game and start cussing me. I found out later that two other friends who were on an East Coast trip watched SportsCenter that night. SportsCenter's segment on the game had "... Park perfect through three (highlight) ... Park perfect through four (highlight) ..." Those two were screaming at the TV in disgust until that single.

Enough of my no-hitter stories? Anybody have their own?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

No system check

I'm on vacation, so I'm not looking around the Rays' minor-league system today.

I will point out that Juan Salas' streak ended Friday. Salas allowed his first earned runs of the season when Columbus' Terrence Long, a Millbrook native, hit a two-run homer off Salas. Salas had thrown 48 1/3 innings without an earned run, though a generous scoring change one night in Montgomery helped.

For my vacation, it looks like I'm zipping over to Charleston, S.C., next week. This vacation is the least-planned trip of my career. I'm a history nut -- here's the line friends are sick of hearing: I was a double-major in college with history and journalism, and a minor in political science -- so Charleston should have some things that interest me.

I'll be in touch.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bankston promoted

Wes Bankston was promoted to Class AAA Durham after tonight's game and will play first base with the Bulls. That experiment is over at third base after B.J. Upton moved there from shortstop.

The Biscuits' front office is expected to officially announce Bankston's promotion at some point Thursday.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Time to move Bankston back

With B.J. Upton moving to third base (see the "Trade to affect Biscuits" thread), does this mean the Wes Bankston experiment at third is about to end?

Bankston already has the bat, but the Devil Rays decided to move him from first to third this spring. If Upton settles in at third, there's no reason for Bankston to stay at third, where he's looked uncomfortable and has made a lot of errors.

Bankston was a Southern League All-Star because of his bat (remember the Opening Night home run that cleared the scoreboard?), though he missed six weeks with an oblique injury. He wasn't an All-Star because of his play at third.

Trade to impact Biscuits

The Rays traded major-league third baseman Aubrey Huff to the Houston Astros today for two minor-leaguers that may join the Biscuits.

Starting pitcher Mitch Talbot and shortstop Ben Zobrist are coming to the Devil Rays, who announced the two will come to Class AA Montgomery, but I'm not so sure.

Zobrist, however, was hitting .328 at Corpus Christi, led the Hooks with 25 doubles and the Texas League with six triples. He had also drawn 55 walks and struck out only 46 times, so he may be ready to go to Class AAA. But B.J. Upton is the shortstop at Durham. One could be trying out a new position soon.

Zobrist was a starter in last month's Texas League All-Star Game. Upton is one of the top prospects in the minors, but has been error-prone.

The Rays were already suffering a system-wide shortage of quality third basemen before Huff's departure. That's one reason Wes Bankston moved to third this spring. Upton has been committed to shortstop, but his glove at the position has left him in the minors. His hitting has been ready for the big leagues for a few years. (Evan Longoria, this year's first-round draft pick, is a third baseman, but he's at high-Class A Visalia.)

Talbot seems a lock to come to the Biscuits. He was 6-4 with a 3.39 ERA at Corpus Christi. He's walked 29 and struck out 98 this year. His arrival means the Biscuits will rearrange their rotation.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

System check

Look for our All-Star "special" section in Sunday's paper.

Stats through Friday.

International League South
RF Delmon Young has 14 hits and 11 RBIs in his last seven games. He has a .368 average in 38 games.
RHP Brian Stokes gave up no earned runs over seven innings in a win Thursday. He walked one and struck out a season-high eight. He's 5-4 with a 3.34 ERA.
SS B.J. Upton has reached base in 11 straight games and scored 12 runs. He has a .378 on-base percentage, has scored 55 runs and is 35-for-49 on steals this season.
C Shawn Riggans is 2-for-20 in his last five games. He's hitting .285 with 37 RBIs and 31 runs scored this year.
RHP Jason Hammel gave up nine earned runs in 2.1 innings Monday. He's 3-7 with a 4.97 ERA. He's lost five straight decisions.

California League North
CF Fernando Perez was 4-for-4 with five RBIs Tuesday. He's 20-for-52 in his last 11 games with 13 runs scored and six steals. This year, Perez has a .397 on-base percentage and 70 runs in 81 games.
3B Evan Longoria homered twice Thursday. He has nine hits, seven runs scored and eight RBIs in seven games since his promotion.
SS Reid Brignac has scored 16 runs in his last 11 games. He's hitting .325 with 21 doubles, 16 home runs, 60 RBIs and 68 runs scored.
1B Chris Nowak was 5-for-6 with five RBIs and four runs scored Monday. He has a .322 average and 63 RBIs.
RHP Chris Mason is 9-3 with a 3.34 ERA. He's won seven of his last eight starts.
RHP James Houser has won five straight decisions and is 6-4 with a 3.93 ERA.

Midwest League East
3B Cesar Suarez is hitting .322 with 20 runs scored, 13 doubles and 18 RBIs in 38 games.
RHP Wade Davis snapped a five-start losing streak with a win Tuesday. He gave up four runs over 6.2 innings. He's 5-6 with a 2.81 ERA this year.
RHP Greg Reinhard is 3-1 in his last four decisions, making him 3-6 with a 5.25 ERA.
C Alex Jamieson has a .278 average.

New York-Penn League McNamara
OF Josh Hamilton doubled in his first game back from a drug suspension. Because of injuries and suspensions, Hamilton hadn't played since July 2002. He's 1-for-8 after three games.
RHP Jeremy Hellickson is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA after four starts. In 19 innings, he's given up nine hits, walked six and struck out 21.
RHP Erik Walker is 2-0 with two saves in five appearances.

Appalachian League East
LHP Chad Pendarvis is 2-0 after throwing five shutout innings in each of his last two starts.
OF Desmond Jennings has a .359 average.
RHP Aneudi Cuevas has allowed one hit in three relief appearances. He's walked two and struck out four.

Those who strayed from the Rays
2B Fernando Cortez is 2-for-20 in his last six games at Class AAA Omaha (Royals). He's hitting .222.
RHP Jose Diaz saved games Wednesday and Friday for Class AAA Oklahoma (Rangers). He has a 3.81 ERA, 17 walks and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings.
OF Frank Moore has 11 hits in his last nine games for Class AA Carolina (Marlins). He has a .219 average in 33 games.
3B Rico Washington has a .128 average and eight walks in 17 games at Class AAA Memphis (Cardinals).
RHP Travis Minix has a 2.52 ERA at Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Phillies). He's 0-3 with three saves.
RHP John Webb is 4-6 with a 4.41 ERA with Class AAA Memphis (Cardinals). Hitters have a .311 average against him.
C Iker Franco is hitting .260 with Class AA Springfield (Cardinals).
RHP Carlos Hines is 1-0 with two saves and a 4.60 ERA at Class AAA Fresno (Giants). He's allowed 37 hits in 29.1 innings.
OF Jesus Feliciano has a .239 average at Class AA Harrisburg (Nationals).
IF Jace Brewer is hitting .244 for Class AAA Oklahoma (Rangers).
RHP Willie Glen is 6-2 with a 4.52 ERA at independent Gary.
C Robinson Cancel has a .292 average, 30 RBIs and 31 runs scored for independent Edinburg. He has 12 doubles, eight home runs and 14 steals in 45 games.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Kazmir an All-Star

Scott Kazmir was picked to play in the major-league All-Star Game, marking the first former Montgomery Biscuit to play in the midsummer classic.

Kazmir was with the Biscuits for only four starts -- and one at Riverwalk Stadium -- but was impressive as a pitcher (obviously) and a person. He was promoted straight from Montgomery to Tampa Bay and I remember talking to him just before he left for the airport.

He admitted it had been a whirlwind few weeks. He had been traded from the New York Mets to the Devil Rays and had barely spent any time in Montgomery.

Because the Rays had a rule requiring formal attire on road trips, and because Kazmir had all of his suits at home in Houston, he had to be measured for a new suit before he left.

This year at spring training, he either remembered me, or did a mighty fine job acting like he did. Either way, he seemed sincere, was generous with his time and acted like someone you hope does well. He has.

Kudos, Kazmir.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

System check

statistics through Friday

International League South
RF Delmon Young was 3-for-3 with four RBIs and his first home run of the season Friday. In 11 games since his suspension, he's 15-for-38 with 11 RBIs.
RHP Brian Stokes pitched 6.1 shutout innings to win last Sunday. He's 4-4 with a 3.46 ERA.
LHP Jeff Ridgway picked up his first Class AAA win Friday. He's 1-2 with a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings.
RHP Juan Salas has allowed four hits and struck out 12 in 10 innings. He'll play in the XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game next Sunday in Pittsburgh.
SS B.J. Upton hit .206 with 15 runs scored and 11 RBIs in June.
LHP Chris Seddon is 6-4 with a 4.91 ERA.
RHP Chad Orvella has a 2-0 record and a 1.08 ERA in 16.2 innings. He's struck out 21 and walked six.
1B Kevin Witt hit his 20th home run Friday. He has a .293 average and 55 RBIs.

California League North
SS Reid Brignac has 10 hits and nine runs scored in his last four games. He's hitting .337 with 15 home runs, 20 doubles and 58 RBIs. He was 2-for-4 with an RBI in Tuesday's HCA Virginia Carolina League vs. California League All Star Game and won the California League's MVP award.
3B Evan Longoria was 2-for-5 in his Visalia debut Friday. He hit .424 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in eight games at Hudson Valley before his promotion. The move was planned soon after the first-round draft pick signed.
C Joey Reiman has a .313 average, 18 walks, 23 runs scored and 26 RBIs in 42 games.

Midwest League East
RHP Greg Dupas has 18 saves, a 1.36 ERA and a 2-2 record. He's walked nine and struck out 31 in 33 innings.
RHP Kevin Lynn is 4-1 with a 2.23 ERA.
OF James Hall's .272 average includes 25 extra-base hits and 39 RBIs.
2B Hunter Vick is hitting .215.

New York-Penn League McNamara
SS Jairo de la Rosa has seven extra-base hits in 10 games.
RHP Lewis Rollins has thrown 9.2 innings and struck out 12.
1B Matthew Fields has 22 strikeouts in 42 at-bats. He's hitting .143.

Appalachian League East
RHP Aneudi Cuevas gave up one hit, walked one and struck out two in his one-inning debut Wednesday.
OF Desmond Jennings is 3-for-3 on steals and has six hits in five games.

Those who strayed from the Rays
2B Fernando Cortez has a hit in all seven games since he joined Class AAA Omaha (Royals). He has a .310 average.
C Iker Franco has a .274 average, six home runs and 29 RBIs with Class AA Springfield (Cardinals).
OF Joey Gomes is hitting .279 at Class AA Mobile (Padres).
RHP Franklin Nunez is 1-5 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA for Class AAA Richmond (Braves).
3B Rico Washington is 0-for-26 in his last eight games at Class AAA Memphis (Cardinals).
IF Jace Brewer is hitting .246 for Class AAA Oklahoma (Rangers).
RHP Carlos Hines has a 4.15 ERA, two saves and 24 strikeouts in 26 innings at Class AAA Fresno (Giants).
OF Jesus Feliciano is hitting .230 for Class AA Harrisburg (Nationals).
2B Dan DeMent has a .240 average and 84 strikeouts in 73 games at Class AA Harrisburg (Nationals).
RHP Jose Diaz has gone nine straight appearances without allowing a run at Class AAA Oklahoma (Rangers).
C Robinson Cancel is hitting .302 and is 14-for-14 on steals for independent Edinburg.
RHP Josh Parker is 2-5 with a 6.22 ERA at independent Amarillo.