Are the Rays sold on Desmond Jennings as Carl Crawford’s replacement?

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From what Rays VP Andrew Friedman told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune, perhaps not immediately:

“We feel like he’s got an extremely high upside,” Friedman said. “I think he’d be the first to say he didn’t have as good a year last year as he’s capable of. Part of that was because of injuries, but he’s got the ability to impact a game in every facet, which obviously we place a great deal of value on. But, he’s going to have to show us and make some adjustments, as all young players need to do, to have sustained success.”

Jennings got off to a slow start this past season, likely due to a sprained left wrist suffered during spring training, but ended up batting .278/.362/.393 with three home runs, 36 RBI and 37 stolen bases in 41 attempts in 109 games with Triple-A Durham. The 24-year-old outfielder batted .190 over 21 at-bats in his first taste of the big leagues as a September call-up.

He’s undoubtedly in the long-term plans of the organization, but Mooney writes that Friedman has “left field” written on his to-do list as he heads to the winter meetings next week. I’m not looking for anything big, but it wouldn’t be outrageous if the club adds someone like Scott Hairston or Matt Diaz (both non-tenders) for some insurance.

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.