The Tampa Bay "Rays" are going to have to consider their options with a player such as Carlos Pena. His stock has never been so high as he is coming off a career year, which doesn’t do him much justice to the exact type of year that he had. He was unbelievable this season, and no one expected him to be, which it makes the whole situation…even more unbelievable.
Carlos Pena, statistically, was above average at the plate in four of the past five seasons on multiple teams consisting of Oakland, Boston, and Detroit (somewhere around average once the position is considered). The one exception was when he was slightly below average in a short eighteen game stint with the Red Sox. In fact, those are the only games he played in a forgetful 2006 season.
But out of nowhere, Pena found the stroke that GM’s everywhere thought he possessed when he was being evaluated for the draft. Pena, to start off, posted an "Adjusted OPS" of 172, which was second in all of baseball, and his base OPS stood at 1.037 as the season concluded (third in AL). On his way to these impressive numbers, Pena left the ballpark 46 times (2nd in the AL), drew 100 walks (3rd in AL). Pena finished second to only Alex Rodriguez in Slugging (.621), and fifth in OBP (.411). Pena, uncharacteristicly, had a remarkable year, finishing up as one of the best hitters in the game for the single season.
But this wasn’t written entirely simply to praise what could be perceived as an overachiever, or possibly a late bloomer. Carlos Pena is going to be turning 30 less than two months after the season begins. And of what use do the Rays have for him as his prime is winding down. The Rays will eventually have enough talent to compete, if everything goes right, which isn’t exactly a given, as they have only won even seventy games on one occasion (1998). So realistically, they may be competitive in 2, 3, or possibly four years. But they also sit in a division that contains the two highest payrolls, and are going to be very difficult to overtake, and not just for the Rays…for any team.
With that being said, Carlos Pena is going to be outside his common prime when they even began to sniff a .500 record. And with that being now understood, shouldn’t they consider moving him now? At least consider it I would think. And I am fairly certain that he is a free agent after this upcoming 2008 season. And as everyone is aware the Rays are short on pitching. They have some developing down on the farm, but it is not there yet.
One team that should be discussing Pena is the Minnesota Twins. They desperately need to add another bat to the mix if they want to have a chance to realistically win a championship this season. The Twins already have a very good first baseman in Justin Morneau, however they have a gaping in whole in their offense, and an opening as the DH. Pena could fit this role rather nicely, and give them a much better chance to return to the postseason after a one year hiatus. They have the pieces to move to get a deal done. Cheap, young, and not fully developed pitchers, such as Garza, Baker, Slowey, Bonser, etc. This should be considered, especially if they plan on keeping Santana and making one last run (Unless for some odd reason they can actually resign him).
And would I be skeptical of Pena’s out of place season last year. Definitely a little, that is for sure. Was it a fluke? Was it an aberration? A one time occurance? I do know that it will be difficult to win a ring in a stacked AL without having an additional bat in the mixture. So I would at least consider this option, from both Minnesota and Tampa, the home of the "Rays."