Heading east ....
Rays CF Rocco Baldelli still isn't heading anywhere, despite a continued flurry of trade rumors. But former Rays outfielder Damon Hollins is on the verge of a big move, as he is about to finalize a deal to play next season in Japan.
The Rays chose to let Hollins go at the Dec. 12 nontender deadline, deciding the spot on the 40-man roster was more valuable than keeping Hollins as the fourth or fifth outfielder. They did so knowing they could have a need if they were to trade Baldelli - or Carl Crawford or Delmon Young for that matter - and probably were planning on having the option to resign Hollins if necessary. But that isn't going to be possible once Hollins - who also drew interest from several major-league teams - formalizes what is likely to be a lucrative deal to play in Japan.
As for Baldelli, most of the latest rumors involve the Braves, and some are pretty darn creative. One that is being talking about in the media there involves a three-way deal in which Baldelli goes to the Braves, 1B Adam LaRoche to the Orioles and closer Chris Ray to the Rays. The problem with that, obviously, is that as much as Ray would be a good pickup, the Rays would be looking for more. Like lefty Chuck James. To see what Braves fans think, take a look at http://www.ajc.com/blogs/content/shared-blogs/ajc/braves/entries/2006/12/20/braves_brass_in.html
Also, Casey Fossum was out and about Wednesday doing some holiday shopping and said his surgically repaired left shoulder is feeling great and that he already was throwing from a distance of 90 feet, which is a good sign since the Rays are going to need him. Former Ray Rob Bell was out too, and said he has signed a minor-league deal with the Orioles, but he too is exploring possibilities in Japan. Both wanted to know what was going on with Baldelli.