@PatMacBaseball first hinted at a move this morning but maintained his professionalism by not blowing the cover off the story before all the details; he is forever the professional as he works in the Pt. Charlotte Stone Crabs office. Marc Topkin let the news out a short while ago that Rocco Baldelli is reporting to the minors to play for the Stone Crabs in what is obviously a move to see if he can help the Rays at some point in the 2010 season. He has been taking batting practice off and on with the team throughout the season but like Gabe Kapler before him, the competitive burn was still there and there is obviously mutual interest as the Rays are giving him this chance.
Last season, he hit .253/.324/.444 and a .326 wOBA in 164 plate appearances for Boston and that was worth half a win last year. To put that in perspective, Willy Aybar has been worth less than that over the past season and a half as he is mostly penalized for lacking a position in the field. If it works out, Rocco could be back by the time rosters expand in September and offer a valuable skill set off the bench during crunch time as someone who has been in two consecutive playoff runs or he could make it back even sooner if the club decides he and Kapler should trade spots within the organization and let Kapler move onto the next phase of his career where he is sure to succeed.
In summary, the Rays once again make a move nobody was expecting and that nobody was talking about. That said, this should not be viewed as a reason for the Rays to not pursue another bat before the trade deadline because this is not the Rocco Baldelli from 2006 who was a key cog of the offense. This Baldelli is a nice story and a complimentary part to the Rays should he make it all of the way back.