ST. PETERSBURG -- Change was in the air on Saturday night at Tropicana Field as the Devil Rays announced the names of scouting and development personnel they decided to let go.
The Rays opted not to renew the contracts of the following: Major League scouts Roger Jongewaard, Stan Williams and Bart Johnson and Minor League pitching coordinator Jerry Nyman. From Triple-A Durham, manager John Tamargo, pitching coach Joe Coleman, coach Richie Hebner and trainer Tom Tisdale will not return.
"When we came in, we said this first year was going to be an evaluation year," said Andrew Friedman, executive vice president of baseball operations. "[We needed a year] for us to figure out how we wanted to structure various areas and the personnel we wanted in various positions. We did that this year. We spent the year evaluating the staff on the scouting end and the player development end. Ultimately, we decided if we were going to move forward, we wanted to make these changes."
Throughout the 2006 season, there were a number of incidents at Durham -- on and off the field. Friedman was asked if those incidents contributed to the decision not to retain the Durham staff.
"It was definitely a contributing factor," Friedman said. "I wouldn't say it was the overriding factor. At the end of the day, we want a structure from the Minor Leagues through player development that's working a certain way, and we're going to try and create that this offseason. So we felt like it was best to make the changes we did. ... It's not about what happened there. It's about the way we're trying to create things with the new pitching coordinator and pitching coach, and how things flow up to the Major Leagues and back down."
The Rays said all parties handled the news professionally. The club also said it tried to make the moves early enough so that all of those not renewed would have a chance to find other jobs this offseason.
Home runs for Crawford: Carl Crawford has 16 home runs this season, which is a career high. The Rays' talented left fielder seems to get better each season, prompting speculation about where he will eventually level out in regard to the number of home runs he hits.
"That's the thing I don't know. That's what I'm trying to find out," Crawford said. "You hear all these projections. Sometimes I feel like I'm going to hit a certain number. Other times I feel like I'll be lucky if I hit 20. That's one of those things I just don't know. I definitely feel like I'm going to hit more every year. But will that happen? I don't know. I keep finding out little stuff about my swing -- things that help me take it up to another level. That's what's been happening so far. I don't know."
This and that: James Shields suffered the shortest outing of his young Major League career on Friday night when he took the loss after allowing six runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. In Shields' previous five starts he had gone 2-1 with a 2.38 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .211 average. ... Through seven games of the current homestand, Rays hitters had walked just seven times. ... Tampa Bay has the worst record in baseball since the All-Star break with a 17-35 mark. ... Eleven of the Rays' last 12 games have been decided by three runs or less. The Rays are 4-7 in those games.
Coming up: The Rays will host the A's in the final game of their three-game series in a 1:15 p.m. ET contest on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field. Right-hander Jae Seo (3-10, 4.96 ERA) will start for the Rays and will be opposed by left-hander Barry Zito (15-9, 3.79 ERA).
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.