Saturday, November 29, 2008

Howdy from Bryant-Denny-Saban Stadium

Greetings and salutations from the currently named Bryant-Denny Stadium, site of today's Alabama-Auburn showdown that will give too many fans a sense of self-worth for the next year.

Check back for updates periodically. I can share that Alabama coach Nick Saban arrived about 10 minutes ago and actually responded to the student section's cheers for him.

12:53 p.m.: The students have a decidedly different reaction to Tommy Tuberville and the Tigers. Tuberville pumped his fist to the boos. Some Auburn players held six fingers aloft and meandered toward that corner of the end zone.

12:58: One Auburn player jumped on the A at midfield. One of the previous six-fingered Tigers returned for a little more action. I don't know who it was, but he had long hair that looked like it was almost in ponytails and what appeared a wrap on his left leg.

2:04: Not really cold here in Tuscaloosa, but it is dreery. Here's where you can review last year's live blog, if you have the desire. Coaches have done the pregame handshake thing. The stadium is about half full, which is more than you can say for some stadiums.

2:09: Let us pause for a moment while Alabama plays its 120 years of highlights. We have now heard the word from the Prophet Bryant.

2:13: The highlights end with what's still a jawdropping catch. See Tyrone Prothro, right.

2:16: Here's a representation as to how today's game should go and how one end zone may appear soon, I bravely predict. Tide 37, Tigers 13.

2:21: The Advertiser is a multi-faceted online operation for today's game. Look for other goodies at the HABOTN.

2:23: More mumblings from Bryant followed by a sound bite from Saban.

2:24: The fog is really starting to roll in. Tutwiler Hall is just across the street and it's hard to make out the building. It's easy to make out some empty seats. Where's the enthusiasm?

2:33: Country music singer Sara Evans sings the national anthem. She has a small connection to the program -- she's married to Jay Barker. Evans wore a Barker jersey for her lengthy rendition.

2:44: Former Alabama running back Siran Stacy was part of the coin toss. He was involved in a car accident a year ago that killed his wife, the former Ellen Bible, and four of their children. Auburn held a moment of silence before last year's game in his honor. Shelly, the couple's only surviving child, joined her dad. Good to see.

2:55: Auburn tried to establish the run on its first drive, converted two third-down opportunities and was near midfield before punting. Tide takes over at the 7.

3:05: It's turning into a punt-fest. Tide punts, Auburn punts, Tide takes over at the 4.

3:21: Alabama went all Pac-Man on the Tigers and used 15 plays to go 76 yards for a 37-yard field goal. Leigh Tiffin's kick came on the final play of the first quarter. The Tide had a third-and-two near its own goal and Glen Coffee ran for 10 yards. Alabama also did the fourth-down thing with a John Parker Wilson sneak at the Auburn 30.

3:39: When one player seals off two defenders, that's good, right? Coffee just scored on a long run that included such a block from Travis McCall. Tide 10-0.

3:46: Auburn's offense now looks like an unsecured firehose. It just squirts all over the place. Tide has the ball back.

4:11: Alabama blocks a last-play field goal (the snap may have been a little low, too) and takes a 10-0 lead into halftime. Now, time for the boring part of any game ... the bands.

4:47: Alabama touchdown. Auburn couldn't score with $100 in Amsterdam's red-light district. A corner blitz blew up an Auburn play, the Tigers fumbled and the Tide went to the end zone on the next play. It's 16-0 and this one is about over.

5:03: How bad will it get? It's 22-0 halfway through the third quarter. The Tide could hold Auburn scoreless through the end of the Bush administration.

5:10: Make that 29-0. Ladies and gentlemen, the Auburn Tigers ...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Greetings from empty Troy stadium

We're here at Troy's Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium to see the Trojans take on Louisiana-Lafayette with the winner clinching at least a share of the Sun Belt championship.

Not that Troy fans would care. It's about 80 minutes until kickoff and traffic is, shall we say, sparse. The stands are, well, pretty dang empty. Check back for updates -- even if you're not one of the 15 devoted Troy fans out there, somewhere.

Troy may want to consider an idea to "bolster" the fans in the stands. See picture.

4:58: The Trojans have found one solution to the dearth of fans. Some U.S. soldiers will be joining us. The troops are forming up outside of the stadium for a march inside.

6:05: The last fans arrived via helicopter. It landed on Troy's practice field past the north end zone. Still, a weak, weak showing by the supposed Trojan Nation.

6:20: Troy scores on its first drive and leads 7-0. The offensive line was a star. Center Danny Franks started a 21-yard DuJuan Harris with an effective cut block. The rest of the line opened a sizable gap for Harris.

6:32: As laughable as Troy's fan support is tonight, Troy's defense has been the opposite. La.-Lafayette has three straight three-and-outs to start the game.

6:34: Nice punt by DuJuan Harris. He runs 67 and fumbles, giving La.-La. the ball at the 4.

6:45: The Cajuns tried a 43-yard field goal and Troy turned it into points. Cameron Sheffield blocked it and Jorrick Calvin returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. Troy's last block was Nov. 5, 2005 against Florida Atlantic by Leodis McKelvin.

6:48: That was the first blocked field goal return for a TD for the Trojans in coach Larry Blakeney's reign.

7:04: Cajuns kick field goal. Yada, yada, yada.

7:19: Trojans benefit from an overturned call, kick field goal. The fans are giving such a lackluster effort that we weren't sure if the kick was good until the referee signaled it. The "fans" behind the end zone simply caught the ball.

7:28: Jorrick Calvin is your first-half MVP. Calvin made an interception at the 5 to end a Cajun threat. It's halftime and 17-3.

8: The Cajuns have Troy right where they want 'em. Troy just scored to make it 24-3 ... about the same situation Troy faced last week at LSU. I think we know how that turned out.

8:16: The Trojans have muscled up in this game. The offensive line is blowing the Cajuns off the ball and it's now 31-3. Troy has 278 yards rushing and DuJuan Harris has a career-high 161. Now, it's the exact same situation Troy faced in the third quarter last week at LSU.

8:19: Announced attendancs is 19,443, which includes at least 5,000 dressed as empty seats.

8:43: It's now 34-3. I don't think even Troy could blow this. The scoring drive lasted a season-high 17 plays and a season-high 8:10.

8:50: 41-3 and DuJuan Harris is sitting at 234 yards rushing after a 30-yard TD.

8:53: That 234 is 10 yards shy of the school record set by Eddie Brundidge in 1984.

Friday, November 21, 2008

DeMent returning to Rays as coach

Dan DeMent, who played in Tampa Bay's minor-league system for five years, is returning to the organization as a minor-league coach.

"I already know everybody in the organization pretty much and I think it will be great," DeMent said. "I'm looking forward to it."

DeMent, who lives near Birmingham, played in the Washington Nationals' system after leaving the Rays. The 30-year-old was out of the game this year -- and spent his time coaching. He was a junior varsity coach at Clay-Chalkville High, where his wife Krista teaches, and helped with a travel team this summer.

McNally Ann, Dan and Krista's first child, was the first Baby Biscuit in 2004. The couple has a second daughter, Fallon, who turned 1 in August.

"Krista is real supportive and that's the only way I could take a job like this," DeMent said. "It's going to be tough because of these girls. They're attached to me and I'm more attached to them."

Dan hit 33 home runs in five years with the Rays -- including eight with Montgomery in 2004 -- before finding some power with Washington. He had 14 homers in 2005, a hefty 20 in '06 and 10 in '07.

"I found a power surge late, some old man strength," DeMent cracked.

DeMent said he will be assigned to one of Tampa Bay's short-season affiliates, but he said he doesn't yet know which one.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hughes shows off in Arizona

Rhyne Hughes was the big winner among the Rays in the Arizona Fall League, which reached the end of its regular season today. The Peoria Javelinas beat the Phoenix Desert Dogs 13-6 in today's finale and finished three games behind the Desert Dogs for a playoff spot.

Hughes ranked seventh among the league's top hitters with a .394 average and set the pace with 20 extra-base hits. He hit a two-run double in today's finale.

Hughes won the Florida State League batting title in 2007, but hit a disappointing .268 with Montgomery this year.

Rays in the AFL ...
OF J.T. Hall -- .237 average, 12 RBIs in 23 games
1B Rhyne Hughes -- .394 average, 27 RBIs, 18 RBIs, 1.129 OPS
OF Desmond Jennings -- .231 in 12 games
C Matt Spring -- .175 in 18 games

RHP Chris Mason -- 0-1, 10.38 ERA in 13 relief appearances, 4 K's, 21 hits allowed
RHP Ryan Reid -- 0-2, 6.43 ERA in 10 relief appearances, 18 K's in 14 innings
RHP Wade Townsend -- 2-0, 8.44 ERA in three starts, busted shoulder, will miss 2009
RHP Mike Wlodarczyk -- 2-2, 7.62 ERA in 12 relief appearances

Atlanta right-hander Tommy Hanson is a safe bet to win any pitching award coming from the AFL. Hanson won the league's Triple Crown with a 5-0 record, 0.63 ERA and 49 strikeouts. He allowed 10 hits in 28.2 innings and walked seven.

Thayer shielded from Rule 5 draft

Former Biscuits pitcher Dale Thayer was among three players added to Tampa Bay's 40-man roster today and protected from next month's Rule 5 draft.

The Rays also added pitchers Wade Davis and Jake McGee, who started this year with Montgomery.

The 27-year-old Thayer was 3-1 with nine saves and a 2.77 ERA at Triple-A Durham this season. He's a four-time All-Star in six pro seasons, including 2007 with the Biscuits. Thayer, the all-time Southern League leader in saves, came to the Rays in a 2006 trade with the San Diego Padres.

The additions leave the Rays with 39 players on their 40-man roster.

Rays release spring schedule

The Rays have 15 games against major-league teams, plus a World Baseball Classic exhibition with Puerto Rico, scheduled next year for their new spring training complex in Port Charlotte, Fla.

They start the spring schedule at home Feb. 25 against Cincinnati and leave Florida after an April 1 home game with Minnesota. Tampa Bay ends the exhibition schedule with a two-game World Series rematch. The Rays play at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park on April 3-4 before starting the regular season at Boston on April 6.

Spring schedule (1:05 p.m. Eastern unless noted) ...
25 Cincinnati
26 at N.Y. Yankees, 1:15
27 Boston
28 at Philadelphia
1 Toronto
2 at St. Louis, TBA
3 Houston
4 Puerto Rico's World Baseball Classic team, 7:05
5 off
6 at Pittsburgh
7 Boston
8 at Boston
9 Minnesota
10 Toronto
11 off
12 Philadelphia
13 at Toronto
14 at Cincinnati
15 Pittsburgh
16 at Pittsburgh, 7:05
17 off
18 Cincinnati
19 St. Louis
20 at Toronto
21 at Baltimore
22 N.Y. Yankees
23 at Pittsburgh
24 off
25 Pittsburgh, 7:05
26 at Detroit, 6:05
27 at Minnesota
28 Cincinnati
29 at Cincinnati
30 at Minnesota
31 at Boston
1 Minnesota
2 off
3 at Philadelphia, 7:05 (in Philadelphia)
4 at Philadelphia (in Philadelphia)

Everything is subject to change.

SINGLE-GAME TICKETS: field box $23, baseline box $18, field reserve $18, baseline reserve $16, berm $9.

Davis, McGee to join players union today

Today is the deadline for the Rays to add prospects to their 40-man roster and protect them from next month's Rule 5 draft.

So, pitchers Wade Davis and Jake McGee, come on down and receive your membership in the Major League Baseball Players Association. Drafted out of high school in 2004, these two are eligible and too potentially valuable for the Rays to lose.

The Rule 5 draft is Dec. 11 at the winter meetings in Las Vegas. If someone is drafted, they have to stay in the major leagues all next season OR be on the disabled list. McGee is recovering from Tommy John surgery and likely won't pitch for all of 2009.

Tampa Bay has 36 players on its 40-man roster right now and it out trolling for free agents. They'll also need 40-man space for those additions.

This is an oversimplification, but basically high school players drafted in 2004 or college players drafted in 2005 are exposed in this year's Rule 5. Looking at Tampa Bay's draft lists from those years, I don't see any other possibilities (sorry, Chris Mason).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Crisp to Royals bad sign for Gathright

Center fielder Coco Crisp was traded from Boston to Kansas City for reliever Ramon Ramirez today.

That likely signals that the Royals don't consider former Biscuit Joey Gathright part of their long-term plans. Gathright hit .254 with just 20 walks and 41 runs scored in 105 games this year with Kansas City. He was 21-of-25 on steals.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What? David Price is No. 1?

Another week's football immersion kept me from checking back with Baseball America for the magazine's top Rays prospects until today.

Hopefully, BA won't mind me sharing the Top 10. I'll give them a plug: The annual Prospect Handbook is invaluable.

1. LHP David Price -- who?
2. SS Tim Beckham
3. RHP Wade Davis
4. SS Reid Brignac
5. OF Desmond Jennings
6. LHP Matt Moore
7. RHP Nick Barnese
8. RHP Jeremy Hellickson
9. LHP Jake McGee
10. RHP Jeff Niemann

I did edit my list of prospects ... not named David Price to insert Moore and extract Maiko Loyola, who has been released.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Biscuits set lows for 2008 revenue

With a $220,000 final quarterly payment to the city, the Biscuits totaled a franchise-low $622,957 in rent for the 2008 fiscal year.

The team had its lowest attendance at 290,000 and lowest operating revenue with $4.89 million. All of those exceed projections when the city council approved Riverwalk Stadium's construction in 2002.

For those counting every penny, the team has paid $3,525,525.52 in rent and has collected $28,559,391.58 in revenue in those areas where the city receives a share for rent.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Greetings from LaGrange

We're here in LaGrange, Ga., to see Huntingdon battle the host Panthers for the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship and perhaps an NCAA Division III playoff berth.

Great sightlines here at Callaway Stadium, though it's going to be a blustery day. Don't worry, I have my trusty Baseball Hall of Fame sweatshirt on hand.

Check back for periodic updates.

11:55 a.m. Central: LaGrange recognized one of its player's parents ... for good reason. Army Major John Hanson just returned from Afghanistan. Freshman defensive back Gunnar Hanson is his son.

12:12 p.m.: Huntingdon thought it had done well when it downed a punt at the LaGrange 1. LaGrange yawned, drove 99 yards on nine plays and made it 7-0. It's the fourth time this season the Hawks have surrendered a touchdown on the opening drive.

12:13: That's also the first touchdown LaGrange has ever scored against Huntingdon in a varsity game.

12:30: End of one quarter. Huntingdon should feel lucky to only trail 7-0. The Hawks haven't done much. LaGrange has a 133-69 advantage in total yards.

12:43: The Hawks find some special-teams magic on a day they've struggled elsewhere. Cornelius Jenkins blocks a punt and Darius Chapman returned it 9 yards for a touchdown. It's Huntingdon's first blocked punt since October 2005. It's tied 7-7.

1: Cody Stepko kicks a 30-yard field goal. Huntingdon looks different since the blocked punt. It helped that LaGrange RB Mario Wallace (12 carries, 116 yards) was out the last series with an apparent right arm injury.

1:03: It's halftime. I'm heading to the car for extra insulation.

1:15: Insulation secured. Also found out that it was Xavier Singleton -- and not Darius Chapman who returned the blocked punt for a touchdown. Singleton and Chapman swapped jerseys today and Singleton is wearing Chapman's No. 30.

1:26: Wallace returned for the second half and was hurt again on the first play. He's in obvious pain as he comes off the field.

1:30: The Panthers finish the drive with a touchdown. A 47-yard kickoff return and Wallace's 7-yard run started it. A 5-yard pass from Drew Carter to Nick Langley ended it.

1:51: Major error by the Hawks leads to a LaGrange touchdown. Justin Ridgeway shouldn't have pitched the ball to Jamal Gardner, who shouldn't have tried to make something of it, either. Gardner held the ball in front when he tried an off-balance move. Stripped. Fumble. LaGrange recovery. Two plays later, a touchdown makes it 21-10.

2:01: Huntingdon dodges bullet. LaGrange appeared to have a touchdown but fumbled. Hawks, down 21-10, recover for a touchback.

2:03: End of third quarter. Ridgeway is having a wretched day. He's 5-of-20 passing for 30 yards and an interception.

2:14: Touchdown, LaGrange. A missed extra point makes it 27-10 and should about do it. The Hawks can ponder Carter's running ability through the offseason. He scrambled for 10 yards on a third-and-four in this drive. Carter scrambled for 21 on a third-and-10 earlier in the half.

2:20: Huntingdon suddenly finds an offense and rolls down the field like the breeze. Ridgeway was 3-for-3 for 49 yards in the drive. It's 27-17 with 7:40 left. The Hawks will still need quite a few breaks.

2:31: There's a break on the field with 3:56 left and Huntingdon trails by 10. Sounds like a perfect time for the Huntingdon band to play "The Final Countdown," doesn't it?

2:33: There's another break. At least the Huntingdon band didn't play "na, na, na-na-na-na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

SL president snares MiLB award

Southern League president Don Mincher has been named this years winner of Minor League Baseball's Warren Giles Award.

Mincher has been the SL president since February 2000. The Giles Award annually honors "outstanding service as a league president," according to an MiLB release.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Stunner: Maddon top AL manager

Tampa Bay's Joe Maddon, who turned the Rays from a perennial bottom feeder into a World Series participant this year, won the American League Manager of the Year award today.

Maddon was the top choice on 27 of 28 ballots and second on the exception. Minnesota's Ron Gardenhire pulled the other first-place vote and was the overall runner-up.

The Biscuits have a closer tie to the National League winner. Cubs skipper Lou Piniella has a minority stake in the team's ownership. Piniella has twice been the AL's top manager and also played for the Selma Cloverleafs in 1962.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Price not on this list of top Rays prospects

I wager a hefty sum that you are looking at the only Rays top prospects list that does not have left-handed pitcher David Price at No. 1.

Baseball America is scheduled to release its Top 25 Rays prospects this week. (Heck, it might be today. (Heck, it might already be out.)) Well, here’s my list of the Top 30 Rays prospects ... not named David Price.

Just like last year, I warn that this is likely skewed toward the players already at the higher levels because I've seen those guys play more.

EDITED to add Matt Moore and delete Maiko Loyola, who I had 23rd.

TOP 30* (last year's ranking)
1. RHP Wade Davis (3) -- has nasty disposition toward hitters
2. SS Reid Brignac (9) -- made major strides defensively in ‘08
3. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (6) -- Rays ending kid-glove treatment
4. CF Fernando Perez (5) -- should be considered for Rays’ needs in right
5. SS Tim Beckham (NR) -- struggled on field in debut season, boomed late

6. RHP Jeff Niemann (8) -- out of minor-league options
7. LHP Jake McGee (2) -- will take 40-man slot despite Tommy John surgery
8. C John Jaso (10) -- still needs work on defense, particularly pitch selection
9. RHP Mitch Talbot (16) -- won 13 with 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio
10. RHP Eduardo Morlan (12) -- injuries limited him to just 47 innings

11. CF Desmond Jennings (7) -- back, shoulder woes made for disappointing 2008
12. RHP Nick Barnese (20) -- New York-Penn hitters squirmed to a .212 average
13. LF Reid Fronk (19) -- will power numbers convert to Florida State League?
14. LHP Matt Moore -- reason I originally left him out: braincramp
15. RHP Heath Rollins (14) -- 3.30 ERA but 5-11 record for wretched Vero Beach

16. RHP Ryan Reid (NR) -- 31 walks in 46.1 Biscuits innings; 20 prior in career
17. LHP James Houser (18) -- tantalizingly effective ... when healthy
18. RHP Alex Cobb (NR) -- 16 gopher balls, 16 hit batsmen, yet still 3.29 ERA
19. RHP Chris Mason (11) -- Triple-A piƱata (6.21 ERA, .333 average against)
20. 1B Rhyne Hughes (29) -- OK in regular season; stellar in Arizona Fall League

21. 2B Elias Otero (NR) -- .332 batting average, nice .932 OPS
22. RHP Dale Thayer (26) -- more good numbers, another year in age
23. RHP Tyree Hayes (25) -- despite woeful season debut, had 3.39 ERA at HV
24. RF Ryan Royster (13) -- system Triple Crown numbers didn’t convert to FSL
25. RHP Jesse Darcy (NR) -- strong finish; 3.05 ERA, 15 walks in 133 innings

26. 1B Chris Nowak (NR) -- set career high with 15 home runs
27. 2B Elliot Johnson (30) -- spring sensation hit .261 at Durham
28. CF Emeel Salem (27) -- was close to Double-A jump until breaking elbow
29. RHP Jeremy Hall (NR) -- not overpowering numbers, except 10-3 record
30. C Nevin Ashley (15) -- lost 15 steals, seven triples off ’07

*--NOTE: These are the top 30 players ... not named David Price.

DROPPED OUT -- why he dropped
3B Evan Longoria (1) -- graduated, won AL Rookie of the Year
LHP David Price (4) -- well, he’s named David Price
?? Joel Guzman (17) -- now a minor-league free agent
LHP Brian Henderson (21) -- hit hard in short stay at Durham
RHP Matt Walker (22) -- drug suspension, poor stats sour status
RHP Josh Butler (23) -- traded to Brewers for Gabe Gross
OF Justin Ruggiano (24) -- not viable option to be Rays’ RF
LHP Mike Wlodarczyk (28) -- trying to convert into reliever

Monday, November 10, 2008

Longoria wins AL rookie award

It's no surprise that Evan Longoria won the American League Rookie of the Year award today.

Longoria was a unanimous pick of the 28 voters from the Baseball Writers Association of America. He's the first unanimous pick since Boston's Nomar Garciaparra in 1997.

Longoria, after starting the year at Triple-A Durham, hit 27 home runs and had 85 RBIs for Tampa Bay. Longoria was the Southern League's most valuable player in 2007 for the Biscuits.

White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez was second to Longoria in the AL voting, while Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was third.

Cubs catcher Geovany Soto was the NL winner. Soto was in the Southern League with the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx in 2004, the Biscuits' inaugural season. Soto hit .285 with 23 homers and 86 RBIs this year.

Longoria is the first former Biscuit to land a major major-league award. Outfielder Delmon Young was a runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year last year to Boston's Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia is a potential MVP this year.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Greetings from Red Stick

Greetings and salutations from the best football stadium in the Southeastern Conference, Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. I'm here to cover the Alabama-LSU game, so you may see a few periodic updates from time to time.

This is my first trip here since my old friend, Mike V, retired. Mike V was a native Alabamian (believe it or not) and I did a story on his old home many years ago. The people at the park where Mike V was raised originally named him Booger.

Unfortunately, today's game is a day game. A night game here is a moving experience.

There are rumors that the LSU faithful won't extend a gracious welcome to Alabama coach Nick Saban, who abandoned them for the NFL, struggled there and turned up at one of LSU's chief rivals.

I had hoped to track down some of the infamous Brignac family jambalaya before kickoff, but traffic was worse than usual. If I learn that former Biscuits shortstop Reid Brignac, his family and a large pot of that tasty dish are nearby, I'm going to be upset.

1:54 p.m.: Saban has successfully entered the field. One Baton Rouge apartment complex had a Burn Bama bonfire and included the phrase "Welcome back, Nick" on its advertisement.

2:04: Mike VI did make it today and there was concern he wouldn't. Mike skipped LSU's last two home games.

2:08: Man, I really wish this game was at night. Many LSU fans may think it is. I'd guess the stadium is a little more than half full, though these dang Cajuns can really make some noise.

2:11: LSU just read the SEC sportsmanship policy and reminded everyone to be nice to each other, not throw things, etc. I'm sure that will be followed to the letter.

2:22: The LSU band marches out for the pregame show. This and T.J. Ribs are the only things I looked forward to on the trip.

2:23: Chillbumps.

2:43: The fumble-at-the-goal line play was excellent in so many ways. Great effort by the Alabama QB to throw the pass, great effort by the receiver to get to the goal line, great effort by the LSU guy to knock the ball out.

2:55: Since John Parker Wilson taunted LSU fans with a hand/phone gesture, I wonder if LSU fans got his number and called him this week. It's not like that hasn't happened before.

4:21: Yawn. This is my first look at Alabama. I thought they were supposed to be the No. 1 team in the country. If so, it's a weak year for college football.

5:24: They've announced that it's officially Saturday night now. That's supposed to bode well for the Tigers. The energy in this place jumped a little.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pena is first Rays Gold Glover

Rays first baseman Carlos Pena won an American League Gold Glove today, the first in Tampa Bay franchise history. Pena led AL first baseman with a .998 fielding percentage (two errors, 1,099 total chances).

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hot Stove kicks in; Rays decline Floyd, Miller options

The Rays have declined their options on designated hitter Cliff Floyd and left-handed reliever Trever Miller.

Floyd may have a torn labrum that, if surgery is required, he says will cause him to retire. Miller was 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA in 68 appearances this season.

Catcher Michel Hernandez has cleard waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Durham. Hernandez joined the Bulls for the International League playoffs and, after the Rays ran short on catchers, found himself on the postseason roster.

Late last week, outfielder Rocco Baldelli filed for free agency. The Rays declined a 2009 option on his contract in spring training. Baldelli still might return to Tampa Bay.