Thursday, December 31, 2009

Feliz Ano Nuevo

Sure, this is a little early, but here are wishes for everyone to have a happy new year from the Biscuit Crumbs staff. Nothing as eventful as last year's wishes, though I'll of course share my count again.

A review of my 2009 ...
r 744 blog entries, including this one. That's up from last year's 561.
r 518 stories, including some that have been written but won't appear until next week leading up to Troy's GMAC Bowl showdown with Central Michigan. Those are just the things I saved on my computer. That's up from last year's 464.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oliveras to manage in Mexico

Former Biscuits coach Mako Oliveras has been named the manager of the Mexico City Red Devils. Oliveras managed the Double-A Binghamton Mets this year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Talbot packaged to Tribe

Former Biscuits pitcher Mitch Talbot has been sent from the Rays to the Cleveland Indians to complete the trade that netted the Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach. Talbot is out of minor-league options, so he'll have to make the Tribe out of spring training or pass through waivers.

Baseball America's top Rays prospects

Baseball America's list of the top 10 Rays prospects:

1. CF Desmond Jennings
2. RHP Jeremy Hellickson
3. RHP Wade Davis
4. LHP Matt Moore
5. SS Reid Brignac
6. SS Tim Beckham
7. RHP Alex Colome
8. LHP Jake McGee
9. LHP Alex Torres
10. RHP Nick Barnese

McGee and Torres should break camp with the Biscuits next year. Moore could, too, but those odds are slim.

BA lists a top 10 now and does a top 30 for its "Prospect Handbook."

We agreed on the top four in the same order and nine of the top 10 with my No. 12 being in their top 10 (Torres). We'll see in the handbook where they have my No. 9 (Kyle Lobstein).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Goldeyes continue local links

The Winnipeg Goldeyes kept up their ties to the area this weekend, re-signing shortstop Wes Long, an Auburn native. Long suffered a broken ankle in June that ended his season with a .343 average and 22 RBIs in 41 games. The Goldeyes, part of the independent Northern League, have also re-signed former Biscuits Vince Harrison and Josh Asanovich this fall.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My list of top Rays prospects

Just in time for Baseball America’s rankings, here’s how I’d rank Tampa Bay’s prospects.

I usually warn that my list is likely skewed toward the higher levels because those are the players I’ve seen more, but this has 13 players who’ve yet to see Biscuit-ville. I didn’t include the players who’ve yet to play in the States and don’t claim to have the scouting expertise to rate those who barely played this year.

Last year, I was the only person to NOT have David Price at No. 1, mainly because I called it the Top 30 Rays prospects ... not named David Price.

Feel free to tell me where I’ve accomplished the feat represented in the picture at right, though I hope you’ll recognize some sarcasm in places.

TOP 30 (last year’s ranking)
1. CF Desmond Jennings (11) -- same position as his beloved Tide; imagine if he had some speed
2. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (3) -- we forgive him for being from Iowa
3. RHP Wade Davis (1) -- could start 2010 in Tampa Bay’s rotation
4. LHP Matt Moore (14) -- 2-to-1 strikeout-to-HIT ratio at Bowling Green
5. SS Tim Beckham (5) -- All-Star in South Atlantic League as 19-year-old
6. RHP Nick Barnese (12) -- shoulder issue limited him to 15 starts
7. SS Reid Brignac (2) -- hit .282 at Durham, recorded first major-league hit
8. LHP Jake McGee (7) -- big year in his return from Tommy John surgery
9. LHP Kyle Lobstein (NR) -- Rays have gushed over his potential
10. RHP Alex Colome (NR) -- 1.66 ERA, 94 Ks in 76 Hudson Valley innings
11. OF Fernando Perez (4) -- 2009 one to forget after spring injury
12. LHP Alex Torres (NR) -- came over in August trade with Angels
13. OF K.D. Kang (NR) -- surprise Futures Game pick (to me) hit .307 with Rods
14. RHP Aneury Rodriguez (NR) -- rough start turned into decent year
15. LHP David Newmann (NR) -- nice pro debut at high-Class A after missing ‘08
16. RHP Matt Gorgen (NR) -- quick riser hit Double-A barely a year after being drafted
17. SS Shawn O'Malley (NR) -- 40 steals, .388 OBP sparked Stone Crabs
18. RHP Alex Cobb (18) -- 3.03 ERA last year, tons of groundball outs
19. 3B Matt Sweeney (NR) -- slugger also part of August trade with Angels
20. RHP Heath Rollins (15) -- made August conversion to reliever
21. RHP Jason McEachern (NR) -- he, Colome and Lobstein due to see Bowling Green
22. C John Jaso (8) -- .266 average at Durham magnifies defensive deficiencies
23. RHP Jeremy Hall (29) -- was 14-7 at high-Class A at 25 years old
24. RHP Eduardo Morlan (10) -- expect social promotion to Durham
25. RHP Mitch Talbot (9) -- out of minor-league options
26. RHP Dale Thayer (22) -- despite lack of flash, reached majors this year
27. LHP Darin Downs (NR) -- was old for Florida State League, but won ERA title
28. C Nevin Ashley (30) -- would have been off list without AFL performance
29. 2B Cody Cipriano (NR) -- another quick riser, but hit mere .204 with Biscuits
30. RHP Zach Quate (NR) -- eye-popping numbers at short-season Hudson Valley

31. LHP Josh Satow (NR) -- here’s a 31 since we’re not sure if Perez (at 11) qualifies. Satow did well in SAL as a 23-year-old.

DROPPED OUT -- why he dropped
RHP Jeff Niemann (6) -- graduated; was 13-6 with Rays, 11 more wins than the Rice football team
LF Reid Fronk (13) -- struggled mightily (.201, four HRs) in high-A debut
RHP Ryan Reid (16) -- injuries delayed start of year, struggled to recover
LHP James Houser (17) -- released, now with Marlins
RHP Chris Mason (19) -- released, went to Mets
1B Rhyne Hughes (20) -- traded to Orioles
2B Elias Otero (21) -- top player for ’08 Princeton hit .196 for ’09 Renegades
RHP Tyree Hayes (23) -- about to start fifth pro year, just played first at low-A
RF Ryan Royster (24) -- struggled for second straight year at high-A
RHP Jesse Darcy (25) -- also moved to bullpen in August
1B Chris Nowak (26) -- should get another shot at Triple-A
2B Elliot Johnson (27) -- out of options; played just 63 games due to broken hand
CF Emeel Salem (28) -- tough to figure: .206 before July 1, .356 after with Crabs

Friday, December 18, 2009

Time to work on annual top Rays prospects list

Baseball America's is due out Monday and I want to do mine before theirs so you can't accuse me of being unduly influenced. With that, give your recommendations now so I don't think you're unduly influenced by my efforts to stick a foot in my mouth.

Rays miss out on Seattle-bound Bradley

Bad news if you were hoping the Rays would land troubled outfielder Milton Bradley from the Cubs. Chicago has traded him to Seattle for pitcher Carlos Silva. Tampa Bay had been heavily rumored to be interested in Bradley.

Dillon, Shealy ink with Tampa Bay

The Rays have added first baseman Ryan Shealy and re-signed infielder Joe Dillon to minor-league contracts.

Shealy, 30, was in the Kansas City organization last year at Triple-A Omaha, but he didn't play after May 8 because of a knee injury. He has played parts of four seasons in the majors.

Dillon appeared in 15 games with the Rays last year. He primarily played at Triple-A Durham.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ridgway hooks up with Nationals

Former Biscuits pitcher Jeff Ridgway, released by the Braves last spring, has signed with the Washington Nationals.

Boroski named Rays assistant pitching coach

Stan Boroski, the pitching coach for Double-A Corpus Christi in the Houston organization the last three years, has been named Tampa Bay's major-league assistant pitching coach. Boroski replaces Brian Anderson, who will be a color commentator on televised Tampa Bay games that aren't available in the Montgomery market.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Olmedo headed to Rangers

Infielder Ray Olmedo, who hit .250 in 115 games with Triple-A Durham this year, has signed a minor-league contract with the Texas Rangers.

Full Rays minor-league coaching roster

Here's the full stateside roster of coaches for the Tampa Bay minor-league system:

Durham -- manager Charlie Montoyo, pitching coach Xavier Hernandez, hitting coach Dave Myers, trainer Rodger Fleming
Charlotte -- Jim Morrison, Neil Allen, Joe Szekely, Chris Tomashoff
Bowling Green -- Brady Williams, R.C. Lichtenstein, Manny Castillo, Scott Thurston
Hudson Valley -- Jared Sandberg, Jack Giese, Reinaldo Ruiz, Andrew Hauser
Princeton -- Michael Johns, Marty DeMerritt, Wuarnner Rincones, Nick Medina
GCL Rays -- Joe Alvarez, Darwin Peguero, Dan DeMent, second coach Hector Torres, Jorge Vargas

Jack Giese is a first-year pro coach after spending the last two years as the pitching coach at Howard College in Texas. Wuarnner Rincones was with Tampa Bay's team in the Venezuelan Summer League the last three seasons, including 2009 as manager. All the others were already with U.S.-based teams in Tampa Bay's system.

The Rays are doubling-up on many of their coordinator positions, too.

Field coordinators -- Jim Hoff, Bill Evers
Pitching -- Dick Bosman, Dewey Robinson
Hitting -- Steve Livesey, Matt Quatraro
Outfield/baserunning -- Skeeter Barnes, by himself
Catching -- Jamie Nelson, by himself

Moloney to be Biscuits' new pitching coach

Bill Moloney, who spent the 2009 season with the high-Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs, will be the pitching coach for the Montgomery Biscuits next year.

Manager Billy Gardner returns for his fourth season and hitting coach Ozzie Timmons and trainer Lee Slagle will spend their second years with the team.

"I'm excited about it," Moloney (right) said. "It's a very challenging level for the players. To me, it's a make-or-break level.

"If you can hold your own or excel at Double-A, the sky is the limit."

Moloney replaces Neil Allen, who was Montgomery's pitching coach the last three years. Allen will coach for the Stone Crabs next year, which will allow him to live at home.

Allen lives in Sarasota, a 25-minute drive from the Stone Crabs' stadium.

"I don't think my wife is going to look forward to seeing me year-round for the first time," Allen joked. "Bobby (their son) will like it, but momma won't.

"She can't stand me six months out of the year. What will she do about 12?"

Next year will be Moloney's 26th as a professional coach and his fourth in the Tampa Bay system.

Before his one year at Charlotte, Moloney worked for two seasons at low-Class A Columbus. He spent the previous six seasons in the Cincinnati organization, including four years with Chattanooga, a Southern League rival of Montgomery's.

"He's a solid pitching guy and has a real good bedside manner," Gardner said. "He's a patient person, which is key."

The Tampa Bay Rays announced their minor-league coaching staffs for the 2010 season today.

The Rays did not renew the contract of former Biscuits coach Ben Oglivie. Oglivie was Montgomery's hitting coach in 2008 and worked with the Gulf Coast League Rays this year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cromer, De Los Santos re-sign with Rays

Former Biscuits pitchers Jason Cromer and Richard De Los Santos have re-signed with the Rays.

Tampa Bay announced those and six other signings today. The others were first baseman Chris Richard, right-handed pitchers Winston Abreu, Joe Bateman and Jeff Bennett and left-handers Carlos Hernandez and R.J. Swindle.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Houser, Andrus, Suarez signings

Former Biscuits James Houser, Erold Andrus and Cesar Suarez have found teams for 2010.

Houser is headed to the Florida Marlins, but he still has to serve some time on his 2007 drug suspension.

The left-handed pitcher missed Montgomery's last 16 regular-season games that year for violating the minor-league drug policy. When he went on Tampa Bay's 40-man roster that offseason, he didn't have to finish the suspension. Now, he's back on a minor-league contract and has to do the time. The looming suspension also played a part in Houser not finding a team after the Rays released him this summer.

Andrus, an outfielder, has signed with the San Francisco Giants. He spent last year with the Florence Freedom of the independent Frontier League.

Suarez, an infielder, was released this summer by the Biscuits and hooked on with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League.

Riggans, Gross out with Tampa Bay

Former Biscuits catcher Shawn Riggans and former Auburn All-American Gabe Gross were non-tendered by the Rays, according to reports. Tampa Bay kept catcher Dioner Navarro after they agreed to a one-year, $2.1 million contract that matched his salary for 2009.

Orioles non-tender Montgomery's Bass

The Baltimore Orioles did not tender a contract offer to pitcher Brian Bass, a Montgomery native, by Saturday's deadline. Bass was 5-3 with a 4.90 ERA in 48 appearances for the O's this year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bill White signs with Phillies

Alexander City native Bill White, a left-handed pitcher, has signed a minor-league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. White didn't pitch this year and appeared in eight games with the Texas Rangers in 2008.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Soriano, Rays agree on contract

Reliever Rafael Soriano and his new team, the Rays, have agreed on a contract and won't go to arbitration.

The Rays and Braves officially announced the trade today that sent Soriano south. The Rays also announced the one-year contract but not the dollars involved.

Soriano will make $7.25 million, according to the St. Pete Times.

Singleton part of trade, to ride with Railcats

Robert E. Lee High graduate Nick Singleton has been traded from one independent team to another.

Singleton, an American Association All-Star this year for the Sioux City Explorers, will join the Gary SouthShore Railcats of the Northern League next year. Singleton was the "centerpiece" of a "blockbuster" five-player trade, according to the Railcats.

The 26-year-old right-hander, who played at AUM, has worked at Riverwalk for the last few years before the start of the independent season.

Zerpa traded to Dodgers

Pitcher Armando Zerpa, a Rule 5 draft pick of the Rays this morning, has been traded to the Dodgers for cash. It's the fourth time in five years that the Rays have traded a Rule 5 pick.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Davis broadcasting highlights

New Biscuits broadcaster Joe Davis sent along some audio clips. Click here and look to the right -- under the label "file downloads" -- for some highlights in an MP3 format. There's even some football, if you're so inclined ... not that there's anything wrong with that.

Gathright signs with Blue Jays?

Rumors swirl that former Biscuits outfielder Joey Gathright has signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. Two Toronto newspapers have reported it, though one (the Star), has an update that says that Gathright's agent is denying it.

Meet Joe Davis -- Beloit College promotional video

Biscuits choose radio voice

Joe Davis, a soon-to-be graduate of Beloit (Wis.) College, has been hired as the Montgomery Biscuits' broadcaster.

Davis was the manager of media and broadcasting for the independent Schaumburg Flyers last summer. He's also broadcast Beloit basketball and baseball games and will be on the broadcast team this weekend for an NCAA Division III football semifinal game.

The 21-year-old was a four-year member of the Beloit College football team. He was a quarterback as a freshman and sophomore After having shoulder surgery, he played receiver as a junior and senior. Davis was a team captain as a senior.

Davis replaces Jon Laaser, who left Montgomery to become the voice of the Richmond Flying Squirrels after this season.

Wlodarczyk picked by Nationals in Rule 5 draft

Biscuits left-handed reliever Mike Wlodarczyk went to the Washington Nationals today in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 draft.

Since it's the minor-league phase, that does not mean Wlodarczyk has to stay in the major leagues all season or be offered back to the Rays.

Tampa Bay was an active picker itself. The Rays grabbed left-handed pitcher Armando Zerpa from Boston in the major-league phase. They also snapped up right-handed pitcher Miguel Sierra from the Cubs in the minor-league phase.

Tampa Bay also lost pitcher Doug Salinas to the Reds in the minor-league phase. Salinas was 5-0 with a 2.61 ERA in 22 appearances this year for short-season Hudson Valley. This was his fourth professional season.

Zerpa, 22, was a combined 2-3 with a 2.68 ERA between two Class A teams this year, his first with a full-season team. He totaled 78 strikeouts in 74.2 innings. Zerpa was a South Atlantic League All-Star after having a 1.20 ERA in 22 appearances with the Greenville Drive.

Sierra, 21, finished 2-2 with a 5.73 ERA between two short-season teams in his fourth pro season.

Wlodarczyk was 1-4 with five saves and a 5.40 ERA in 47 games for Montgomery this year. He reached Triple-A Durham at the end of the season and made one appearance before the International League playoffs. Wlodarczyk turned 27 last week.

Braves closer Soriano headed to Rays

Rafael Soriano is being traded from Atlanta to Tampa Bay, according to reports, which would seemingly fill the Rays' need for a closer.

Soriano made 27 saves last season. He's also due to make big bucks because he's eligible for arbitration. Atlanta offered him arbitration and didn't expect him to take it. When he did, the Braves had a surplus of relievers and needed to trade him.

He's being traded for pitcher Jesse Chavez, who came to Tampa Bay from Pittsburgh in the Akinori Iwamura trade.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Lugo to return to Tigers

Former Biscuits pitcher Ruddy Lugo has re-signed with the Detroit Tigers. He was 13-9 with a 4.07 ERA this year at Triple-A Toledo.

Montoyo to pick up award Thursday

Be on the lookout for any pictures of former Biscuits manager Charlie Montoyo wearing suit and tie Thursday. He's scheduled to pick up his Mike Coolbaugh Award at the winter meetings in Indianapolis.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Asanovich stares down Goldeyes, too

Former Biscuits second baseman Josh Asanovich will also return to the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the independent Northern League. The team announced the contract today. Asanovich hit .285 this year and was a league All-Star after being released in the spring by the Rays.

Harrison again has his Goldeye on Winnipeg

Former Biscuits third baseman Vince Harrison has re-signed with the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the independent Northern League.

Hernandez, Allen bowed down to Harvey

So, former manager Whitey Herzog and former umpire Doug Harvey are going into the Hall of Fame. Of course, Herzog managed the Cardinals, including a spry right-handed pitcher named Neil Allen.

Harvey, who was called "God" by the players out of respect (and his white hair), called balls and strikes not only for Allen but also a spry right-hander named Xavier Hernandez. (Researching this didn't take as long as I thought it would, thanks to retrosheet and baseball-reference.)

Allen, with Harvey behind the plate ...
5.11 ERA in 12.1 innings/7 games, 15 hits, 7 walks, 8 strikeouts

Hernandez, with Harvey ...
9.82 ERA in 3.2 innings/5 games, 9 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts

Heard this story long ago about Harvey, whose first ejection was Joe Torre in 1962. I can't find confirmation on the rest of this. Torre came out on a nothing call of Harvey's in Harvey's final season. He told Harvey that he had been Harvey's first ejection and, because of his respect for Harvey, also wanted to be his last.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sandberg promoted to Triple-A

I hope everyone got all the Ryne Sandberg autographs they needed this year when he was the manager of the Tennessee Smokies. The Hall of Famer is moving up to Triple-A Iowa next season.

Sandberg, who spent two years at low-Class A before a single season in the Southern League, impressively signs autographs for about 30 minutes before every game.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Bennett out so Rays can add Shoppach

Pitcher Jeff Bennett, added last year when the Rays released James Houser, was designated for assignment to make 40-man room for Kelly Shoppach, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Former Biscuit Andrade dealt, too

Former Biscuits pitcher Steve Andrade was also part of a trade today. He and right-handed pitcher James Morrison were dealt from the Grand Prairie Airhogs of the independent American Association to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the independent Atlantic League in exchange for two players to be named.

Tribe's Shoppach headed to Rays

Catcher Kelly Shoppach has been traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Rays for a player to be named.

The Rays, with a full 40-man roster, will make an additional move today to add him.

Shoppach is a .241 career hitter over five seasons and will complement Dioner Navarro in Tampa Bay. The Rays have diminished expectations for Navarro and a diminished opinion of John Jaso after disappointing seasons.