Monday, January 5, 2009

Rays get Powerful Burrell for DH

By JC De La Torre

Perhaps its the slowing economy or since their success last season, players will take pay cuts to be here - but the Tampa Bay Rays made a huge signing today - getting left fielder Pat Burrell from the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies to take the Rays vacant DH spot. Burrell, 32, signed a 2 year, $16 million dollar contract, a regular bargin for today's power hitter standards. The Phillies Standout banged .250, 33 home runs, 86 rbi, and 102 walks in 157 games for the Phillies. Rays fans remember Burrell for getting a crucial lead off single in bottom of the 7th in Game 5 of the World Series that eventually turned into Philadelphia's winning run that ended the Rays hopes for their first World Championship.

The Rays could be done shopping for this season, as Executive Vice President Andrew Friedman told the St. Petersburg Times, "This signing is a major commitment of our resources and it will dramatically hinder our flexibility going forward." Translation: We're done spending for this year.

"This is a team I had a lot of interest in going to,'' Burrell told the Times, "I think this team is going to be competitive for a long time. ... I'm here to help. Anything and everything I can do to help this team win, I'll do.' '

Tampa Bay still has questions at closer, where oft injured Troy Percival turns 40 and still has back problems, while Dan Wheeler and JP Howell scare no one. It will be interesting to see if the Rays try to help Grant Balfour develop an off speed pitch that may enable him to become a closer.

The Rays is also looking for an answer at right field, although the hope is Tampa native and former Tiger Matt Joyce can fill that hole and also provide some additional punch in the lineup.

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