Make us your home page

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

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

  1. Kids still playing for all the marbles — literally

    Human Interest

    In this world of pompous athletes, overbearing coaches, money-grubbing owners and a win-at-all-costs mindset, it's easy to become jaded.

    Eli Murphy, right, leans in to give Sierra Ricci the traditional king and queen kiss at the National Marbles Championship in Wildwood, N.J. Both of Allegheny County Pa., they won the girls and boys championship of the 94th annual National Marbles Tournament. [Associated Press]
  2. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  3. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  4. Lightning journal: Plans set for 25th anniversary season

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — The Lightning revealed some of its plans for its 25th anniversary season Friday, including a ceremony to honor the 2004 Stanley Cup team.

    John Tortorella, in Tampa in 2014 for the 10-year Stanley Cup win party, will return next season for the team’s anniversary event.
  5. Rays designate catcher Derek Norris for assignment

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — C Derek Norris tied a career-high with three hits in Friday's 15-5 win against the Orioles then was designated for assignment after the game to make room on the 25-man roster for C Wilson Ramos.

    Derek Norris, right, celebrates with Logan Morrison as he scores in what could be his last game with the Rays.