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Gabe Kapler fits several needs for Tampa Bay Rays

PHILADELPHIA — The Rays moved quickly to re-sign OF Gabe Kapler because they could.

The Rays liked how he hit (against left-handers), how he played defense, how he ran, how he prepared, how he hustled, how he set a good example for the young players.

"We liked everything about him," manager Joe Maddon said from California. "We liked having him on our team."

Kapler liked being there, so he was willing to bypass the free-agent market for the chance to stay and is already excited — "Really excited," he said — about getting back to work.

The Rays also like having depth, options and versatility, and they feel Kapler gives them all of that, and at a decent price ($1,050,000). And clearly more so than minor-leaguers Fernando Perez and Justin Ruggiano, or Gabe Gross, who seems likely to be traded or non-tendered.

Kapler, 34, may end up being no more than the fifth outfielder, as the Rays are still considering a rightfield platoon of Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce.

But he could platoon with Joyce if the Rays decide to keep Zobrist at second full time, or he could get at-bats at DH if they are able to unload Pat Burrell, or he could be a key replacement if LF Carl Crawford or CF B.J. Upton gets hurt (or, however unlikely, traded).

Executive VP Andrew Friedman called Kapler a "tremendous asset," a "positive influence" and a "valuable piece" of their 2010 squad.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Seriously? Five levels of pricing for tickets? The same outfield seat, depending on date and opponent, is $12, $17, $20, $24, $27. Why not just have different prices every day? Or ditch the diamond, platinum, gold, silver, bronze theme and break it down to Games We Charge the Most For, Almost as Much For and down to Games We Know We Can't Sell. … LHP Glenn Gibson, the prospect the Rays got from Washington in the trade for controversial OF Elijah Dukes, was among a dozen minor-leaguers released. Still a good deal. … Bench coach Dave Martinez talked with the Indians about their manager's job, which went to Manny Acta. … Interviews should start soon to fill the remaining staff position — assistant to the pitching coach. … The chances of a Burrell-for-Milton Bradley trade seem even less likely with talk that the Cubs reportedly have several teams interested, including the Blue Jays (CF Vernon Wells). … 2B Akinori Iwamura's name has come up in connection with the Cubs and the Dodgers, as the Rays work on a sign-and-trade deal given a $4.85 million option that has to be decided one day after the World Series ends. … The Rays will join the teams pursuing Cuban LHP Aroldis Chapman, but with limits.

AND MORE RUMBLINGS: According to Baseball America's figures, the Rays spent $4,004,500 on the draft, ranking 28th since they didn't sign their top two picks, and down from $9,921,000 in 2008, which was third most. … 3B Evan Longoria is among seven big-leaguers in the next McFarlane Toys figurine lineup. … The voting contingents are different, but it doesn't bode well for RHP Jeff Niemann's already slim chances for the AL rookie of the year award that White Sox 3B Gordon Beckham won the Sporting News and Players Choice honors. The writer-voted official award is announced Nov. 16. … Angels (and former Rays) pitching coach Mike Butcher said LHP Alexander Torres, acquired in the Scott Kazmir trade, is "a real stud" who at 21 already has three above-average pitches — fastball, curve and changeup. … The formula is too complicated to explain, but raysindex.com calculates the Rays should have won 97 games and suggests Maddon may have been the problem.

Gabe Kapler fits several needs for Tampa Bay Rays 10/31/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 31, 2009 9:36pm]

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