Rays reportedly on the verge of trading Jason Bartlett

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An already underwhelming crop of free agent shortstops has seen Juan Uribe, Jhonny Peralta, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka come off the market and now it sounds like the Rays are ready to trade Jason Bartlett to one of the teams still looking to fill the position.

Bartlett is coming off a sub par season and will likely make about $5 million in 2011 via arbitration before becoming a free agent, but teams with a hole at the position are running out of other options and he’s certainly a solid enough all-around shortstop to be a nice short-term solution.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that “trade talks involving Bartlett have moved to point where the Rays will find an acceptable deal for the shortstop” and previous reports listed the Giants, Cardinals, Orioles, and Nationals among teams interested in him.

Tampa Bay has 25-year-old Reid Brignac ready to step in as the starter, and could use the money saved and players acquired by dealing Bartlett to rebuild the bullpen that figures to lose Joaquin Benoit, Rafael Soriano, and Grant Balfour.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.