Friday, February 29, 2008

Houser off suspended list

Pitcher James Houser earned an extra benefit from making the Rays' 40-man roster: His suspension for using a performance-enhancing substance is over.

Houser missed the final 16 regular-season games last year with the Biscuits -- plus nine playoff games -- after the suspension. He was scheduled to miss the first month of this year.

"As a member of the major league 40-man roster, Houser is not subject to
minor league rules and is no longer considered suspended," Rays spokesman Rick Vaughn said in an e-mail to Tampa Bay writers.

(Thanks to Marc Topkin for passing along the e-mail.)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Maddon on Perez, Salas

The Rays' daily spring training release included quotes from manager Joe Maddon on former Biscuits Fernando Perez and Juan Salas.

(On outfielder Fernando Perez)
JM: He’s really a bright young man. He’s very analytical in everything that he does. He’s moving further along. He got a lot better on-base percentage. The thing we really want to get to the next level on with him is a higher success of stealing second base. Stolen base percentage needs to increase. There are certain things we need to work on within that area, but, offensively he does so many good things. Defensively, again, we’re going over routes. But speed can really make up for anything he misreads early on.
(On Juan Salas)
JM: The longer he is out the more difficult it is going to be for him, compared to the other two guys. We saw a little bit of Guzy (Guzman) last year and Aybar has a track record. Juan is still trying to create a track record. I would say of any of the three it would most impact, it would be him (Salas). He would be competing against the whole group: Birkins, Dohmann, Balfour, Orvella, Houser, etc.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Biscuits job fair Saturday

The Biscuits will have their annual job fair at Riverwalk Stadium from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Applicants must be 16 years old and all jobs -- whether paid hourly or per game -- bring more than the minimum wage, according to the team.

Delmon v. Rays starts early

Let's see, position players just reported this week and the Rays already have a spat started with Delmon Young.

Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford said early this week that things should be "a little more peaceful this year" without Young and Elijah Dukes. Young, traded to the Minnesota Twins in the offseason, responded by saying he and Dukes weren't the reason for the Rays' losses and "if it was us two, we weren't there from '98 to '06."

Crawford did not respond kindly today.
"These are exactly the the kind of distractions we were talking about with the Rays, a young guy popping off at the mouth, talking too much,'' Crawford said. "He needs to just shut up and play baseball."
Really, he didn't respond kindly.
"I’ll be more than happy to say it to his face or any kind of other way that’ll make him understand what we mean."
The Twins and Rays face each other in exhibition games March 4, 11 and 26. Their first regular-season game against each other is April 16.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Maddon on Longoria

The Rays included quotes in their daily camp release from manager Joe Maddon on Evan Longoria and Longoria's chances of making the majors out of spring training.

On Evan Longoria:
JM: He’s one of those guys that believes he belongs here, which is really important. That’s the one component that can accelerate his coming to the major leagues, because physically he is really talented but it’s just a matter of what you’re thinking and how you’re thinking. I know he has those components.
Why is it so important not to rush this guy?
JM: I think it is important never to rush anybody. I think when you get into a situation on a major-league level, whatever sport it is, when you start rushing people to that spot you have a chance of losing them for a long period of time. When you have somebody like him, who you pretty much know what he is going to look like in the future, it’s OK if he meets some adversity, we expect that. You really want to make sure all the bells and whistles are attached and in place and everything is lined up perfectly, because you want him to get off to a good start. He’s going to come here with a lot of pressure built into the situation, so sometimes it’s better just to wait a little bit. When you are going to make a mistake in this situation you’d rather it be more of a cautious mistake than an aggressive mistake, because you can really impact a young man’s future more than you would realize.
Are you OK with the fast pace of going through minors?
EL: I think everyone would like it like that. The less time you spend in the minor leagues obviously it is more pleasant. There are still a lot of things that I need to experience and learn. I am just trying to take it one step at a time.
On decision to wait until later in the spring to make decision on where he will play (Tampa Bay or Durham):
EL: I am OK with what they decided to do. It gives me a chance to prove myself. I feel the pressure a little more and it is kind of what I like. I would rather be pushed and have people on me than just come in and have it (position) handed to me.

Ripken wants to move Vero team

Hall of Famer Cal Ripken has bid on the Vero Beach Devil Rays with the intent of moving them to Port Charlotte, Fla., the site of Tampa Bay's spring training complex that opens in 2009, according to a Florida television station. The Ripken Baseball Group owns two other teams. Rays Index found the story.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Central Regional -- Day 1

9:10 -- Halftime. Sidney Lanier 25, Blount 19.
9:45 -- 3 1/2 minutes remaining. Lanier 51, Blount 41.
10:08 -- Final. Lanier 68, Blount 62.

End of first quarter. Blount 10, Jeff Davis 8.
7:26 p.m. -- Halftime. Blount 20, JD 16.
7:54 -- End of third quarter. JD 35, Blount 32.
8:24 -- Final. Blount 48, JD 46.

The Montgomery Fire Department made its first appearance less than 10 minutes before Monday's first game. A fire alarm went off about 3:15 and the MFD was here quickly.

We've already noted two corrections for your 6A girls rosters. Selma's Keisha Moore is listed as Keysah, while Jeff Davis' Lavonda McCall is listed Lavenda.

We'll give ASU a hearty thumbs-up for one change from last year. The Acadome now has a sound system, so the temporary speakers from last year are unnecessary. That means no obstructions for fans ... and no headaches for us writers and those fans that were near those temporary speakers.

First tipoff at 3:35 p.m. The tournament is already behind.

Less than a minute in, the fire alarm went off again. Play was not interrupted.

End of first quarter. Davidson 19, Selma 14.
Halftime. Selma 32, Davidson 30.

Make that three (at least) misspellings on the 6A girls rosters in the program. Davidson's Lana Vakadin is listed as Lana Vukadin. The Warriors also have a guard that the Davidson scorekeeper wasn't sure of. She's Shundrea/Shundria Windham.

One holdover problem from last year. Halftime is about to end, but ASU has yet to be able to produce and distribute statistics.

Fire alarm goes off again in the first minute of the third quarter. Play was not interrupted.

An explanation has been given on the stats issue. ASU is working with a new system. I guess it just came out of the box.

End of third quarter. Selma 48, Davidson 44.

More on the stats: ASU had a system crash.

Final score. Selma 70, Davidson 56. Unofficially, I have Keisha Moore with 23 points and Ashley Grimes 17 for Selma.

End of first quarter. Lee-Montgomery 18, Murphy 16.

ASU bought a new stats program for the regional. The new stats program is going back in the box and the Hornets have brought out the program they use for their games. We have stats for the first quarter of the Lee-Murphy game. Hip, hip, hooray.

Halftime. Murphy 25, Lee 24.
End of third quarter. Tied 36-36.
Final. Lee 56, Murphy 49.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bulls raise big bucks for Montoyos

The Durham Bulls doubled-up the Biscuits, raising more than $27,000 for Charlie Montoyo and his family. Alex Montoyo, Charlie's infant son, was born with a heart defect and remains at the UCLA Medical Center. The Biscuits mustered $12,756 for the Montoyos in December.

Sunday serving

Tampa Tribune: Delves into the hair-raising experiences of Chris Mason, who sheepishly showed up at camp without any dye on his head. "Soitenly," he must look like ...

St. Petersburg Times: Manager Joe Maddon will be more stringent with the Rays because of higher expectations this year. And some news and notes reveal that Andy Sonnanstine shows off his double-jointed elbows at YouTube.

(Personal reflection: Matthew Maniscalco ranks atop the all-time Biscuit table tennis list. Sonnanstine ranks second -- and beat Maniscalco a few times -- with Jon Barratt a distant, distant third.)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Price on first spring workout

The Rays sent out quotes from their first workout Friday, including some from (possible Biscuit?) pitcher David Price.

On first day of workouts:
DP: It was fun and relaxed. You get your work in and get out of here. You wake up early get out early and get in a day of baseball.

On attending his first camp:
DP: I haven't played baseball in seven months. There is definitely excitement, nervousness, there's everything. I am looking forward to having a good time.

What is he expecting from himself going into camp:
DP: Just go in and play baseball, learn from it, and have fun. Spring Training for me is to just sit back and listen to guys like Troy Percival, Scott Kazmir, Dan Wheeler, and those type of guys. I want to listen to what they have to say and not really say too much; kind of be a mute.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rays to wait on Longoria decision

The Rays considered making a decision before the start of spring training, but now will wait and see how Evan Longoria performs in the exhibition season.

Mason primps hair for major-league spring camp

We here at your beloved Biscuits blog, Riverwalk Talk, always try to bring you the most germane, the most pressing, the most relevant things about the Biscuits, their former players, the Rays, yada, yada, yada.

Well, the Rays have their first spring workout Thursday and Chris Mason, who helped the Biscuits win the Southern League title last year, will be in major-league camp for the first time.

Before even donning his spring Tampa Bay uniform, Mason has a major decision to make. Which bottle of hair dye will he hit?

The right-handed pitcher sported blond, blue and jet-black hair at various points last year and even planned to go pink once, only to have that hue nixed by the Rays. His choice for this week's spring debut: a shaved head.

"I figured I'd start this season how I ended last year," Mason said. "We'll see what happens. I can't wait until we start. It should be fun."

Townsend wins championship ring

Rays minor-league pitcher Wade Townsend showed ace potential last month, winning a World Series of Poker circuit event in Tunica, Miss. Townsend won $77,000 and a gold championship ring.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Catfish appear headed to Kentucky

The city of Bowling Green, Ky., expects the Columbus Catfish to move north from Georgia in time for the 2009 season, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer and Bowling Green Daily News report.

Sunday buffet

St. Petersburg Times: St. Pete starts its final spring training this week -- the Rays are moving to Port Charlotte, Fla., next year -- and the Times goes nostalgic with a farewell package of stories, picking an all-time St. Pete spring team and sharing a set of the all-time best tales. There's also a look at new Rays reliever Troy Percival's spring plans.

Tampa Tribune: The Rays are looking up at catcher after Dioner Navarro put together a strong second half in 2007.

Boston Globe: Dustin Pedroia is in a more comfortable situation this year, not that he acts like it. Also, a look at the worst losses in Boston sports history and the judgment that the multiple Sox disappointments outweigh last week's Super Bowl. And, as always, the notebook.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune: The Twins "traded for the old Delmon, and they're getting the new Delmon."

Seattle Times: A blow-by-blow account of the saga that became the Erik Bedard trade. The Orioles and Mariners finally announced the deal Friday.

Los Angeles Times: The Dodgers are leaving Vero Beach and Dodgertown after this spring and many are relieved and smiling at the move. Some will feel nostalgic ... or not.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Spring, Montoyo listed on Rays' spring roster

Catcher Matt Spring, who played for the Biscuits last year, is among the non-roster invitees to Tampa Bay's major-league spring training. The Rays released their spring roster today.

Teams regularly stock their spring camps with extra catchers so the pitchers can get their work without wearing out the top catchers. The Rays have 28 pitchers in camp.

The non-roster invitees include ...
Pitchers Brian Anderson, Wade Davis, Chris Mason, Jake McGee and Scott Munter.
Catchers Mike DiFelice, Hector Gimenez, Josh Paul and Spring.
Infielders Reid Brignac, Andy Cannizaro, Eric Hinske and Evan Longoria.
Outfielders Chris Richard, John Rodriguez and Jon Weber.

Former Biscuits manager Charlie Montoyo is listed as a special instructor, but he won't be there for at least the first few weeks of camp, the Rays said. Newborn son Alex is still at the UCLA Medical Center and was doing better at last report.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Rays Index: Kazmir likely gone after season

Based on the hefty contracts signed by Johan Santana and Barry Zito, Rays Index speculates that fellow left-hander Scott Kazmir may be entering his final season with the Rays.

Boston's Hinske joins Tampa Bay

Infielder Eric Hinske, who played with Boston last year and was the 2002 American League Rookie of the Year, has signed a minor-league contract with the Rays. Hinske spent five seasons with Toronto (2002-06) before being traded to the Red Sox in August 2006.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Rays sign left-handed reliever Miller

Left-handed reliever Trever Miller, who spent the last two years with the Houston Astros, has signed a one-year, major-league contract with the Rays. Miller had a 4.86 ERA in 76 appearances last season. He was with Tampa Bay in 2004-05.

Happy holiday, everyone

Let me take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very merry National Signing Day.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Top Rays prospects to start year at ...

Some other guys in the Rays blogosphere have already rubbed it in our faces that they had received their Baseball America Prospect Handbook. I got mine today, so here's where BA speculates the top prospects will start the 2008 season.

1. Evan Longoria -- depends on spring training, accd. handbook
2. David Price -- likely Vero or Montgomery
3. Jake McGee -- likely Montgomery
4. Wade Davis -- Durham or Montgomery
5. Reid Brignac -- Durham
6. Desmond Jennings -- Vero
7. Jeff Niemann -- possibly Tampa Bay
8. Jeremy Hellickson -- Vero
9. Ryan Royster -- Vero
10. Chris Mason -- Durham

11. Glenn Gibson -- Columbus
12. Juan Salas -- Tampa Bay (he barely counts as a rookie)
13. John Jaso -- Durham
14. Alex Cobb -- Columbus
15. Eduardo Morlan -- likely Montgomery
16. Josh Butler -- Vero
17. Nick Barnese -- probably Hudson Valley, but maybe Columbus
18. James Houser -- Montgomery after his suspension ends
19. Heath Rollins -- Vero
20. Matt Walker -- possibly Montgomery, if spring goes well

21. Mitch Talbot -- Durham
22. Mike McCormick -- Columbus
23. Will Kline -- Vero
24. Wade Townsend -- Vero
25. Fernando Perez -- Durham
26. Nevin Ashley -- Vero
27. Justin Ruggiano -- probably Durham
28. Rhyne Hughes -- Montgomery
29. Joel Guzman -- doesn't speculate between Tampa or Durham
30. D.J. Jones -- Princeton

Monday, February 04, 2008

New Rays third baseman in jail

Willy Aybar, the freshly acquired Rays third baseman, is sitting in jail in the Dominican Republic, according to (story translated through Google), accused of assaulting his wife. He could remain there for several months. The Rays declined comment to the St. Pete Times and the Tampa Tribune.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl commercials ... second half

I'm back with more non-baseball drivel, the second-half commercials from Super Bowl XLII. In a cross-programming note, ESPN had ice skating, TBS had "The Wedding Planner" and Spike had an eating contest on at halftime.

All ads available at

First break (after Giants' punt) -- Witch doctor, shrinking head? Solid follow-up to the circle of death. -- Once again, a better commercial than the first offering. Where were the pandas two hours ago?
Vitamin water -- Poor horse, solid effort. Shaq wins the race, the kid picks his nose and Shaq's competition whacks him on the butt.

Second break (during Pats' challenge)
Bud Light -- Wheel suck? Bottle opener suck? Well, so does the commercial.
Ice Cubes -- Carmen Electra? Still pleasant on the eyes -- I saw her in "Meet the Spartans" last week -- but she's no longer a major-leaguer. She was back in the day (link to hilarious movie safe for work).
Terminator -- I'm just putting this in so I can use another Summer Glau photo. Yum.

Third break (after Pats turn it over on downs)
Car commercial -- I dozed off. It was that boring. Sorry.
WALL-E movie -- Was the robot doing something unnatural to that vacuum? That trailer has been out way too long.

Fourth break (after Giants' punt)
Jumper movie -- Another trailer that I've seen too much, but it does lead us to a question well, well worth pondering: Glau or Rachel Bilson? Acting ability, of course.
E*Trade -- Wow, they made a baby talk. Consider me less than impressed.
Bud Light -- Wasn't motivated by the flight of fancy.

Sixth break (after first play of fourth quarter)
Sunsilk?? -- More music.
Coca-Cola -- Never fear, Underdog is here. I fully expected the Coke bottle to be pulled from Charlie Brown's grasp. Admit it, you did, too.

Seventh break (after Giants' touchdown)
Coca-Cola -- James Carville v. Bill Frist? I kept waiting for more fireworks.
Toyota -- Nothing special.

Eighth break (after ensuing kickoff)
Zohan movie -- Highly anticipating that one, seriously. The Mossad should make for fine entertainment.

Ninth break (after Pats' punt)
E*Trade -- "Look Who's Talking Too?"
Taco Bell -- Yo necisito comer.
Gatorade -- Scruffie really liked his drink.

10th break (after another punt)
ABA/Bud Light movie -- That movie shall be seen.
Hyundai -- Not big on cars.
Chad Johnson -- Probably thinks he deserves his own commercial.

11th break (two-minute warning)
Victoria's Secret -- Yowza, yowza, yowza.
some sports drink -- Salt 'N Pepa's "Push It." Yet more memories.

Final score: Giants 17, Patriots 14.
Before the game, a friend said he just hoped it was worth watching in the fourth quarter. It was.

Super Bowl commercials ... first half

What do you expect from this blog? Some baseball and a little mindless drivel, of course. While fellow Advertiser blogger Josh Moon reviews the game action (and more), I'll give a blow-by-blow review of the commercials from Super Bowl XLII.

First break (during Giants' opening drive)
Bud Light -- OK, nothing special.
Audi -- Weird, I guess the guy pulled a Rip Van Winkle.

Second break (after NY FG)
Pepsi Max -- Liked it, particularly the song from "A Night at the Roxbury" and Chris Kattan's late appearance, but I first thought it was for Red Bull.
Sales Genie -- It's the Super Bowl, gotta step up your game.
Terminator -- I'm not including the Fox house ads, but I want to share this: Summer Glau (right), yum.

Third break (after ensuing kickoff)
Bud Light -- Cheesy, in a good way.
Under Armour -- I want humor in my Super Bowl ads. Not pep rallies.

Fourth break (end of first quarter)
Bridgestone -- Let's play make the squirrel into a smudge.
Doritos -- Is this VH1?
Local commercial. I won't bore our national readers any further.

Fifth break (after Patriots' touchdown)
Wanted movie -- It comes out June 27. To me, this is too early for advertising.
G2 sports drink-- Derek Jeter? Peyton Manning? Blah. -- Might have to check out Danica Patrick's video.
Dell -- No butt-tapping of guys, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Sixth break (after ensuing kickoff)
FedEx -- Most original entry yet. Birds, go crazy. -- Let's have that stone circle death match.
Tide -- Remember the line from Austin Powers' Goldfinger ... MOLE, MOLE? Maybe it motivated the "speaking stain."

Seventh break (after Pats' INT)
Budweiser -- Hank, sent to the Clydesdale minors, forces his way into the show.
Ironman movie -- I'll probably see it, but I'm not enthused by it.

Eighth break (after Pats' punt)
Toyota -- Badgers? We don't need no stinking badgers? Though if they'll bite that guy's face off, it could be high entertainment.
Leatherheads movie -- Semi-enthused about it, though a sign has been at the Rave for about two months.
Garmin -- Ol' Napoleon might want to make sure the heat works in that car before he heads east for the winter.

Ninth break (after Giants' punt) -- I didn't know where that was going. Still lame to have a beating heart jumping around.
Life water -- Ah, the Thriller video. That brings back memories.
Public service announcement -- Drugs are bad.

10th break (after, well, I don't know what happened)
GMC hybrid -- Lame.
Bud Light -- The Mind of Mencina strikes again.

11th break (two-minute warning)
Narnia movie sequel -- Didn't see the first one.
Planters -- Yuck. Unibrow. Someone should be fired.
T-Mobile -- Charles Barkley stays after Dwyane Wade.

12th break (after Giants' punt)
Pepsi -- We might have a winner. Justin Timberlake is a good sport.
Doritos -- Rat unleashes a beat down. Why not use that one first instead of that hideous music video (fourth break)?

And that's the half.
I'm taking halftime off.

1. Justin Timberlake's ride through the streets for Pepsi.
2. Rat displays fury over dude's smacking of Doritos.
3. Company turns delivery over to the birds, then chooses FedEx.

Sunday smorgasbord

Stuff, whether related to the Rays/Biscuits or not, I thought you might enjoy.

St. Petersburg Times: Third baseman Evan Longoria feels more prepared for spring training this year and wants a shot at opening the season with the Rays rather than Durham.

New York Post: The Mets hope the Johan Santana trade turns around their fortunes as opposed to the negative impact the Tom Seaver trade had 30 years ago.

New York Times: Pitchers Livan and Orlando Hernandez were in five straight World Series, easily outdistancing Peyton and Eli Manning and their back-to-back Super Bowl appearances.

Chicago Tribune: With Santana's new-found treasure ($137.5 million over six years), Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia will have his mouth watering in anticipation of his next contract.

Tampa Tribune: More on Longoria potentially (I'll say probably) starting the year at Durham and comparing the paths last year of Milwaukee's Ryan Braun and Kansas City's Alex Gordon.

Boston Globe: Notebook galore.

Detroit Free Press: Tigers minor-leaguer Anthony Tomey is part-owner of a sub shop, Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches, and works there each offseason, from hiring and firing to taking out the trash. "I'm not too big to do anything," he says.

Newsday: Friday was Opening Day ... for Strat-O-Matic fans. The company started selling its annual cards Friday.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Biscuits rent reaches just $37K

The city received its lowest rent payment from the Biscuits when the team paid just $37,487 this week. The total covers a share of the team's revenue for the months of October, November and December.

The previous low quarterly payment was $76,915 for the same months a year ago. The team has paid a total of $2,940,054 in rent since Riverwalk Stadium opened in 2004.

Rays ink 3 to minor-league deals

The Rays have signed three former major-leaguers to minor-league contracts with invitations to major-league spring training: left-handed pitcher Brian Anderson, right-hander Scott Munter and catcher Josh Paul.

Paul, 32, played in 35 games for Tampa Bay last year and had a rehab stay with the Biscuits. Munter, 27, was with the Giants last year, mainly at Class AAA Fresno before joining the major-league team in September. Anderson, 35, last pitched for the Royals in 2005 before Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. He's a 13-year major-leaguer.

Minor-leaguer takes stock off block

Here's another story on the minor-league pitcher who decided to sell stock in himself (see Sunday's blog entry), but this is from the New York Times.

Unfortunately, Major League Baseball, the players' union and the Securities and Exchange Commission weren't real enamored with the idea. Randy Newsom will refund the $36,000 he's already raised, but wants to develop a plan the big guys will approve.

I liked it because of the quirkiness. Fans may talk about investing their emotions into a team. Well, how 'bout investing your money into a player?