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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Jones fires high and tight at Rays
By MARC TOPKIN
Published October 15, 2006
DETROIT - Tigers closer Todd Jones is known for being direct and coming right at you - whether it's facing hitters or giving his opinion.
And Jones' opinion of former Devil Rays general manager Chuck LaMar and the previous administration is not very good, going back to 2004 when the Rays released Jones late in spring training.
"Someone asked me how it felt for me personally (to be in the playoffs) and I was like, 'Hey, I got released from the Devil Rays. It feels pretty good to be on a pennant-contending team because I wasn't good enough to pitch for Tampa Bay,' " Jones said.
"I can't believe that organization was run that long by that regime because they made some of the worst baseball decisions - from Brandon Backe (who was traded to Houston for Geoff Blum), to Kevin Stocker for Bobby Abreu, to passing on Josh Beckett for Josh Hamilton. They just paralyzed themselves. It was just a bad organization. ... If you're telling me I can't make a team that Jorge Sosa and Jesus Colome made, then that front office had no idea what they were doing."
The Rays signed Jones just before spring training as a minor-league free agent but released him at the end of March because, he said, they didn't want to pay his $450,000 salary. Since then, Jones has pitched three full seasons in the majors - with the Reds and Phillies in 2004, the Marlins in 2005 and now the Tigers - and did well, logging 79 saves. He did okay dollar-wise, too, making $500,000 in 2004 and $1.1-million in 2005, then signing a two-year, $11-million deal with the Tigers.
JUST MANAGING: If they can't work out a deal with Lou Piniella, another possibility for the Cubs is Bruce Bochy, who was given permission by the Padres to pursue other opportunities. But Bochy's agent, Tony Attanasio, said the long-term status of current general manager Jim Hendry would have to be a factor.
"How long is Jim Hendry going to be there?" Attanasio said to the San Diego Union Tribune. "What if Jim Hendry goes and they bring in some 26-year-old guy with a computer who says, 'We don't need a manager. I can run the club and see what happens.' "
RAYS RUMBLINGS: Re-signing Greg Norton made sense, giving the Rays at the least a top reserve or, depending on whether they acquire a first baseman, a potential platoon starter with Ty Wigginton. ... Baseball America's initial projection for the first overall pick in the '07 draft by the Rays is Vanderbilt left-hander David Price. ... Jones also said: "I think Seth McClung is going to be a good closer because he has two plus pitches and he's got a good makeup." ... Kevin Witt, who hit .148 in 19 Rays games after an MVP season at Triple-A Durham (.291, 36 homers, 99 RBIs) was dropped from the 40-man roster. ... With his new $1.2-million contract, Jae Seo joined Chan-Ho Park and Byung-Hyun Kim as the only Korean players to be break the million mark, according to the English edition of the Chosun Ilbo newspaper. ... Ben Zobrist hit .333 in the first week of Arizona Fall League, but Wes Bankston was 1-for-12 and Fernando Perez 1-for-15. Jeff Niemann pitched three scoreless innings in the opener, striking out four.
MISCELLANY: Former Marlins manager Joe Girardi appears headed to the Nationals. ... Tampa native Dave Magadan was hired by the Red Sox in an unspecified role but could end up the hitting coach. ... Commissioner Bud Selig said MLB will consider changes to the playoff format to create a "more decisive" disadvantage for the wild-card team, likely taking away a home game. It is unlikely, however, to expand the first round from best-of-five to best-of-seven. Selig also said "no news is good news" on the ongoing negotiations for a new labor agreement.