Friday, January 18, 2008

Carlos Pena Resigns With Tampa - In Line For A Solid 2008

Slugging first baseman Carlos Pena has resigned with the Tampa Bay Rays, agreeing to 3 year 24 million dollar contract. Pena had a remarkable breakout campaign in 2007 hitting 46 homers with 121 RBIs and 99 runs scored in only 490 ABs, easily establishing career highs across the board. Pena's season truly came out of nowhere, as he spent 2006 with the Red Sox playing in only 18 games and compiling a total of 33 ABs.

Once a highly touted prospect, Pena was taken 10th overall by the Rangers in the 1998 draft. He was dealt to Oakland before the 2002 season and then sent to Detroit as part of the infamous 3-team deadline deal which sent Jeff "Dream" Weaver to the Yanks and Ted Lilly to Oakland.

Pena had a forgettable three and a half year stint in Detroit, topping 20 homers only once while failing to hit above .250. He was claimed off the proverbial scrap heap by Tampa prior to the 2007 season and started raking as soon as he arrived. He hit 20 homers with 52 RBIs in the first half and topped that output in the second half crushing 26 homers while driving in 69.

In addition to the gaudy homerun and RBI numbers, Pena maintained a batting average over .280 for the first time in his career while drawing 103 walks on his way to an OPS over 1.000 (1.038).

2008 Fantasy Impact

Pena enters the 2008 campaign as the Rays' unquestioned starter at first base and will hit in one of the league's most dynamic, up and coming lineups. Pena will most likely bat fourth, with great talents like BJ Upton, Carl Crawford and if healthy (big if) Rocco Baldelli hitting in front of him. These guys are solid hitters who get on base and, especially in the cases of Upton and Crawford, have excellent speed on the basepaths. This should provide Pena with an abundance of RBI opportunities. As far as lineup protection goes, a healthy Jonny Gomes or the emergence of third base phenom Evan Longoria should be ample.

Pena comes into the 2008 season at 29 years of age, in his absolute hitting prime. Additionally, barring injury, he should get more at bats this season while slotting into a choice spot in a steadily improving Tampa lineup. Although it will be difficult to top his 2007 output, Pena should enjoy a solid season in 2008 (think 35 homers, 100+ RBIs, 100 + runs scored) and enters 2008 as a clear-cut top 10 first base option, falling somewhere anywhere from 7th to 10th at the position.

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