Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

One team's trash is Tampa Bay Rays' treasure

Brandon Allen may not get another hit for the Rays as big as his first, a two-run pinch-hit walkoff homer that won Thursday's game.

Heck, he may not get many more hits.

But the acquisition of the first baseman/outfielder — claimed off waivers from Oakland — already is considered a positive, the latest in a string of curiously good decisions in bringing in players discarded or ignored by others.

"Our Rays scouting department, I think, is the best there is," manager Joe Maddon said after Allen's game-winner. "It doesn't surprise me. When we put our mark on somebody, it's normally with good reason."

The gold standard always will be Carlos Peña. A one-time top prospect whose career appeared to have fizzled, if not flamed out, Peña was signed to a minor-league deal before the start of spring training 2007 and went on to hit 46 homers that season, make the All-Star team in 2009 and average 34 homers and 97 RBIs over 2007-11.

Another prized find was Dan Wheeler, a middling middle reliever with Houston who came over in a July 2007 trade (for Ty Wigginton) that Maddon still refers to as a key move in the launch of their run of success.

There are many others who, for whatever reason, fit in better with the Rays, or were used in a better way by the Rays, than elsewhere. (And certainly some misses along the way.)

Eric Hinske, Gabe Gross, Willy Aybar, Casey Kotchman on the offensive side. J.P. Howell, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Juan Cruz and Joel Peralta in the 'pen.

"It seems to be the way things work around this organization; that they seem to find guys that just do the right things at the right times," catcher Chris Gimenez said. "There must be an art to that."

Identifying and acquiring players who can help, and fit in their limited budget, is the product of extensive work by the pro scouting staff and what the Rays call their Baseball Research & Development department.

Having them fit in and feel comfortable and using them in the right spots is on Maddon and his coaches.

"This team is just great to be around," pitcher Brandon Gomes said. "It really does bring out the best in everybody."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

One team's trash is Tampa Bay Rays' treasure 04/28/12 [Last modified: Saturday, April 28, 2012 10:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Durant's Cameron Myers now one of the state's elite RBs

    Footballpreps

    There will come a day when Cameron Myers is stopped, when opposing defenders gang up to prevent him from breaking off big gains.

    When? Who knows?

    Durant running back Cameron Myers breaks free for a 39-yard touchdown run against Newsome. (Scott Purks, Special to the Times)
  2. Check out what this former Buc has cooking in Buffalo

    Bucs

    Leonard Johnson is thrilled to extend his NFL career in Buffalo this season, but whenever his playing days are over, the former Bucs cornerback is ready for life after football.

    He's actually pretty excited.

    Buffalo Bills cornerback Leonard Johnson catches a pass during an NFL football training camp in Pittsford, N.Y., Saturday, July 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
  3. Koetter: Jameis Winston will test shoulder in practice Friday

    Blogs

    Will he? Won't he? It appears the Bucs' uncertainty over whether quarterback Jameis Winston can play through a shoulder injury Sunday at Buffalo will carry up until the final hours before kickoff.

    Jameis Winston didn't throw at practice Wednesday.
  4. Fennelly: Even frustrated Bucs fans hold out hope

    Blogs

    Many fans wrote back when I threw out an all-points the other day, asking if Bucs fans are perpetually in a state of expecting the worst.

    Bucs fans cheer during a preseason game against the Washington Redskins in August at Raymond James Stadium.
  5. Bucs snapper Garrison Sanborn looking forward to return to Bills

    Bucs

    Throughout his eight seasons with the Bills, whenever former players would come to Buffalo for a game, Garrison Sanborn remembers the place to take them for a reunion dinner was a popular Italian …

    Garrison Sanborn enjoyed just one winning season in eight years in Buffalo. [AP photo]