NEW YORK — Trading LHP Scott Kazmir to the Angels was about the money, in that it allows the Rays to keep the core of their team together for 2010 and helps going forward with Carlos Peña, Carl Crawford and Grant Balfour headed toward 2011 free agency.
But the Rays were also excited about what they got back, primarily versatile INF-OF Sean Rodriguez, who could end up playing a lot at second base.
And, Angels people say, they should be.
"We're — we were — excited about him, too," Angels GM Tony Reagins said. "We thought that he was a player who was going to impact our major-league club real soon.
"He's got power. He plays multiple positions — he plays second, short, third; he can go in the outfield, centerfield. His versatility is what's attractive — kind of a super-utility type guy. …
"The only thing I would say that he has to work on is the strikeouts. I think he strikes out a little bit too much at this point, so as he becomes more selective he could be very, very attractive. That was our plan for him long term."
Rodriguez does have something of a fan club, striking out 122 times in 459 plate appearances (one every 3.76) in 108 Triple-A games this season while hitting 30 homers (second most of all Triple-A players) and driving in 98 runs. He has averaged a strikeout every 4.76 plate appearances in the minors (681 in 744 games), one every 3.48 in the majors (62 in 71 games).
The Rays are well aware and will work with Rodriguez on it. In a way, he'll fit right in, as they had four players in the AL's top 19 in strikeouts—- Peña (163, one every 3.50 plate appearances), B.J. Upton (152, 4.12), Evan Longoria (140, 4.79) and Pat Burrell (119, 4.00).
But overall, Rodriguez, 24, should be a valuable addition. The Rays' plans are still evolving, but there's talk of playing S-Rod at second against left-handed pitchers with switch-hitting Ben Zobrist in rightfield and with Zobrist at second and Matt Joyce in right vs. right-handers.
"We think Sean is going to be a very good major-league player and that he will help us win games in 2010 and beyond," Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said.
And if that includes making him the primary second baseman, the Angels say he can handle it. "Oh, yeah, he's good," SS Erick Aybar said.
"Absolutely," Reagins said. "He can play second base."
RAYS RUMBLINGS: Returning coaches got two-year contracts. … Rays TV ratings on FSN were down nearly 10 percent from 2008, to 3.13, according to SportsBusiness Journal, and households viewing dropped 8 percent to 57,000. … The search for a hitting coach is external; Rudy Jamarillo, who was let go by Texas, isn't likely to be a candidate, but former Ray Eduardo Perez may be. … Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who foresaw the Rays' rise to competitiveness, says now: "They'll be in the mix to stay — unfortunately." … What if? SI.com's Jon Heyman says Bobby Abreu turned down the same two-year, $16 million deal the Rays ended up giving Burrell. … Ex-Rays OF Rocco Baldelli looks to be headed back on the market after a so-so year (.253, seven HRs, 23 RBIs, 62 games) in Boston. … Tim Bogar, the 2008 quality assurance coach, is among the candidates for the Astros manager's job. … For what it's worth, Crawford's name has come up in articles or blogs about the Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Giants, Mets, Red Sox, Tigers and White Sox. … There will be other co-coordinators added to the minor-league staff in addition to former Astros pitching coach Dewey Robinson. … Class A Bowling Green moves next season from the South Atlantic to the Midwest League.