This morning I noted that free agents departing the Rays this offseason have signed elsewhere for a total of $215 million and since then Grant Balfour raised that figure even higher by signing a multi-year deal with the A’s.
While most of the focus has understandably been on the Rays losing so much major-league talent, having that many Type A and Type B free agents leave in one offseason also means Tampa Bay will be absolutely flush with draft picks in June.
The draft order isn’t official yet because there are still several Type A and Type B free agents on the market, but based on early projections from Jim Callis of Baseball America and Jason Collette at Dock of the Rays, it looks like the Rays will have 11 of the first 75 picks in this year’s draft.
Here’s a rough estimate of where they’ll be picking come June and how they got each pick:
24 (Red Sox’s pick for Carl Crawford)
31 (Yankees’ pick for Rafael Soriano)
32 (Rays’ own pick)
38 (Supplemental pick for Soriano)
41 (Supplemental pick for Crawford)
42 (Supplemental pick for Balfour)
51 (Supplemental pick for Joaquin Benoit)
55 (Supplemental pick for Randy Choate)
58 (Supplemental pick for Brad Hawpe)
59 (Supplemental pick for Chad Qualls)
75 (A’s pick for Balfour)
Oh, and the Rays also have their own second-round pick, which is 88th overall, giving them 12 of the top 88 picks. Based on Victor Wang’s work on draft pick value over at The Hardball Times, those 12 picks are likely worth around $30 million in surplus value over the cost to sign them. That won’t help Tampa Bay contend in 2011, but it’ll go a long way toward keeping the farm system stocked for years to come.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.
A couple of weeks ago our president wrote one of his more . . . vexing tweets. He was talking about immigration when he whipped out the phrase . . . “Easy D”:
No one was quite sure what he meant by Easy D. Was it the older brother of N.W.A.’s founder? The third sequel to that Emma Stone movie from a few years back? So many questions!
Baseball Twitter had fun with it, though, with a lot of people wondering how they could work it in casually to their commentary:
It wasn’t a scout who did it, but twelve days after that, a player obliged Mr. McCullough:
I have no more idea what Turner was talking about with that than Trump was. We’ll have to wait for the full story in the L.A. Times. But I am going to assume Turner was doing McCullough a solid with that one rather than commenting on the president’s tweet. Either way, I’m glad he made the effort.
And before you ask: yes, it’s a slow news day.