Monday, December 26, 2011

Sonnanstine lands with Cubs

Former Biscuits pitcher Andy Sonnanstine is headed to the Chicago Cubs after being non-tendered by the Rays.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jai Miller dropped by A's

Outfielder Jai Miller, a Selma High graduate with lifelong ties to Montgomery, has been removed from Oakland's 40-man roster. Miller hit .276 with 32 home runs at Triple-A Sacramento this year. He ended the season with the A's and was 3-for-12 in seven games.

Biscuits raid Barons for new clubbie

Jeff Perro, the clubhouse manager for the last three years for the Birmingham Barons, has been hired by the Biscuits and Tampa Bay Rays. Perro, who has also worked with the Mobile BayBears and Augusta GreenJackets, announced the hiring on his blog and Twitter feed.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Red Sox appear to pass on Allen as pitching coach

Reports out of Boston say the Red Sox will hire Bob McClure as their pitching coach and pass on Durham's Neil Allen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Moore DQ'd from my list of top Rays prospects

I'm going to step out on a limb yet again and go against the grain. You won't find Matt Moore atop my list of Tampa Bay's top prospects

Without looking at Baseball America's top 10 (due out today), here is my list Tampa Bay's top 30 prospects ... not named Matt Moore.

I fully admit that my list is skewed toward the higher-level players because those are the ones I've seen. I also didn't feel educated enough (blame football) to include any of the 2011 draftees, except for Mikie Mahtook and Cameron Seitzer.

That made things tough because, to me, a lot of depth in the organization is now in the lower levels. The first 10 went easily before it got tough.

(To reminisce at my idiocy a year ago, click here. And here's 2009 and 2008.)

Once again, allow me to open mouth and insert foot (last year's rank in parentheses) ...
1. SS Hak-Ju Lee (8)
2. RHP Alex Colome (4)
3. RHP Alex Cobb (11)
4. LHP Alex Torres (9)
5. RHP Chris Archer (5)
6. CF Mikie Mahtook (NR)
7. RF Drew Vettleson (NR)
8. SS Tim Beckham (12)
9. RHP Matt Bush (NR)
10. RHP Nick Barnese (7)
11. LHP Chris Rearick (NR)
12. OF Brandon Guyer (16)
13. 2B Tyler Bortnick (27)
14. SS Derek Dietrich (21)
15. C Stephen Vogt (28)
16. LHP Enny Romero (NR)
17. RHP Dane De La Rosa (15)
18. C Robinson Chirinos (13)
19. IF Cole Figueroa (17)
20. C Oscar Hernandez (NR)
21. LHP Kyle Lobstein (10)
22. 1B Jeff Malm (NR)
23. RHP Jason McEachern (NR)
24. 1B Cameron Seitzer (NR)
25. IF Shawn O'Malley (NR)
26. RHP Jake Thompson (14)
27. C Josh Sale (NR)
28. LHP C.J. Riefenhauser (NR)
29. OF Cody Rogers (NR)
30. C Justin O'Conner (NR)

RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1), graduated
LHP Matt Moore (2), ineligible since he's named Matt Moore
CF Desmond Jennings (3), graduated
LHP Jake McGee (6), graduated
RHP Jeremy Hall (18), retired
C Nevin Ashley (19)
1B-LF Leslie Anderson (20)
C Luke Bailey (22)
RHP Brandon Gomes (23), graduated
RHP Marquis Fleming (24)
RHP Zach Quate (25)
LHP Neil Schenk (26)
2B Cody Cipriano (29), released
3B-1B-LF Henry Wrigley (30)

Here's Baseball America's list ...
1. LHP Matt Moore
2. SS Hak-Ju Lee
3. RHP Chris Archer
4. RHP Taylor Guerrieri
5. RHP Alex Colome
6. LHP Alex Torres
7. SS Tim Beckham
8. LHP Enny Romero
9. OF Drew Vettleson
10. CF Mikie Mahtook

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Reliever Peralta, Rays agree on 2012 contract

Relief pitcher Joel Peralta have avoided arbitration by agreeing on a one-year contract. Peralta made 71 appearances this year to rank second among AL relievers. The 35-year-old was 3-4 with a 2.93 ERA and six saves.

Monday, December 19, 2011

SEC changes baseball tournament format

Southeastern Conference baseball tournament fans get an extra day of play starting next year. The SEC announced today that it's expanding the tournament to 10 teams, which also causes a revamped format and an earlier start.

It's still a two-bracket format with the bracket winners playing one Sunday game for the championship. It's still in Hoover, too.

The tournament will start on Tuesday (that's May 22 next year) with four games. There are also four games Wednesday and Thursday and two games Friday and Saturday. Yes, the bracket championships will be a one-game showdown.

Now, for the confusing part.

The top-seeded team in each bracket (the two divisional winners) won't play until Wednesday. The four other teams in each bracket start Tuesday. The highest-seeded Tuesday winner will have a Wednesday bye. The other Tuesday winner plays the bracket's top seed Wednesday.

Is that explained decently enough? It took me a few minutes to digest it, too.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Allen interviews for Red Sox pitching coach job

Neil Allen, the former Biscuits pitching coach now at Triple-A Durham, has interviewed for the vacant position with the Boston Red Sox, according to reports. (Here's the Boston Globe, which cites a SiriusXM interview of Boston GM Ben Cherington.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bulls announcer going to big leagues

Durham announcer Neil Solondz has been called up to the majors. Solondz has been hired by the Tampa Bay Rays to host the team's pregame and postgame shows. He has been with the Bulls since 2004 and has filled in for the Rays the last two years.

(One wonders if they had Durham manager Charlie Montoyo give him the news or at least called him into the manager's office for it.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Salem shows more game through song

Biscuits outfielder Emeel Salem may have missed all of the 2011 season, but it wasn't a total loss.

Salem, while rehabbing an injured knee, also jumped into the recording studio and recorded some of the songs he wrote long ago.

"This year, I had time to focus on it more because I was hurt," Salem said. "I was able to spend time fine-tuning them."

Now, four of the songs are available through iTunes. (Salem's site is The four -- "What You Need," "Don't Stop," "All About You" and "Down to Love" -- are completely Salem's creations.

"There's no rhyme or reason I chose those songs," Salem said. "They're four very different songs and they just happen to be the ones I chose for the EP."

Salem, who said he's "confident" he'll be ready for the 2012 season, has been a longtime music fan. It's one of the things he uses to relax off the baseball field.

He also said he doesn't have a preference between these four songs.

"All the lyrics are real lyrics and situations that happened in my life," Salem said. "All are unique."

Salem, a native Alabamian who starred at the University of Alabama, used his talents last spring to be crowned champion of the Tampa Bay Rays' annual talent show. He said he's confident releasing the songs won't jeopardize his opportunity at a repeat.

"It better not," Salem said. "I'm pretty sure sure there are no rules for that. Actually, I'm positive of that."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Former Biscuit Veras dealt from Bucs to Brewers

Former Biscuits pitcher Jose Veras, who has been with the Pittsburgh Pirates, has been traded to Milwaukee for infielder Casey McGhee. Veras was with the Biscuits for a short time in 2004.

Jefferies traded to Miami Marlins

Catcher Jake Jefferies, who spent part of this year with the Biscuits, has been traded to the Miami Marlins for relief pitcher Burke Badenhop.

Badenhop, 28, was 2-3 with a 4.10 ERA in 63 2/3 innings with the Marlins. The right-hander has spent parts of the last four seasons with the Marlins.

Jefferies opened the year with the Biscuits and played in just six games, hitting 5-for-19, before a demotion to high-Class A Charlotte. The 24-year-old hit .235 in 59 games with the Stone Crabs.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Friedman high on Moore's future

Rays general manager Andrew Friedman, according to a team release, said at a news conference, that Matt Moore is an asset to the team.

“Matt is one of the most talented young players in baseball and exactly the type of person we look to build around,” Friedman said. “For us, making a long-term commitment to a player is not only a question of his ability, but also his work ethic, competitive drive and character. Matt excels in each of those aspects and we’re thrilled that he’ll be part of our core for many years.”

Matt Moore, Rays agree to long-term deal

Former Biscuits pitcher Matt Moore and the Rays have agreed to a long-term contract that will cover at least five years, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

It's worth a guaranteed $14 million over five years and as much as almost $40 million over eight.

That would cover all of his arbitration years -- and a few free agent years, too -- and erases the biggest drawback to Moore opening the 2012 season in the majors.

Moore started last season with Montgomery, reached the majors in September and started for the Rays in the American League playoffs. Tampa Bay has been successful with giving long-term deals to players with little major league experience.

Third baseman Evan Longoria signed a long-term contract a week after getting to the Rays in 2008 and he has been a major force the last four years. The contract is considered one of the most team-friendly in baseball.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Sweeney to Orioles in Rule 5 draft

Biscuits infielder Matt Sweeney has a new home after the Baltimore Orioles picked him today in the Double-A phase of the Rule 5 draft.

Sweeney, who came to the Rays as part of the Scott Kazmir trade with the Angels, hit .154 in 82 games for Montgomery this year.

Tampa Bay also lost catcher Gerardo Olivares in the Triple-A phase to Boston. Olivares had a .298 average at short-season Class A Hudson Valley this year.

The Rays weren't a factor in the major league Rule 5, except their pick from last year was picked again. Left-handed pitcher Cesar Cabral of the Red Sox went to the Yankees. He didn't make Tampa Bay's team last year and returned to the Boston organization.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Tampa Bay's top foreign scout retires

Andres Reiner, one of the first scouts to tap into Venezuelan talent who has been with the Rays for the last six years, has announced his retirement.

Reiner helped Tampa Bay tap into Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. The team dedicated its Venezuelan facility, which opened in 2007, to him. The 76-year-old, when he worked for the Houston Astros, was credited with discovering such stars at Johan Santana and Bobby Abreu, among others.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Rays sign 4 to minor league contracts

Right-handed pitchers Jhonny Nunez and Ricky Orta, infielder Matt Mangini and first baseman Juan Miranda have signed minor league contracts with the Rays that include major league spring training invitations.

Orta was with Tampa Bay this year but pitched in only four games with the GCL Rays while recovering from elbow surgery. He officially was on Montgomery's disabled list for much of the year.

Nunez was at Triple-A Charlotte with the Chicago White Sox for some of this year, his sixth professional season. Miranda has been in the majors for parts of the last four seasons, playing 65 games with Arizona this year. Mangini was at Triple-A Tacoma with the Seattle Mariners this year and hit .336 in 58 games.