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11/30/07 10:47 AM ET

Pena, Kazmir head Rays' arbitration list

Young stars are also joined by Gomes, three righty relievers

ST. PETERSBURG -- Carlos Pena and Scott Kazmir head the Rays' list of players eligible for salary arbitration for the 2008 season.

Saturday at 11:59 p.m. ET is the deadline for teams to offer salary arbitration to ranked free agents in order to be eligible for Draft-pick compensation. Clubs must offer contracts to unsigned players by Dec. 12. Eligible players may file for salary arbitration between Jan. 5-15. Players and clubs would then exchange salary figures on Jan. 18; hearings are then set for Feb. 1-21.

Also eligible for arbitration are relievers Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler and Gary Glover, and designated hitter/outfielder Jonny Gomes.

Pena, who signed a Minor League deal with an invite to Major League camp prior to the 2007 season, had a breakout year, hitting .282 while setting team records for home runs (46) and RBIs (121).

Kazmir experienced a slow start in 2007 while coming back from a stiff shoulder that ended his '06 season. Throughout the first half, the southpaw struggled with his mechanics before coming on strong in the second half. After the All-Star break, Kazmir went 8-3 with a 2.39 ERA in 15 starts to finish the season at 13-9 with a 3.48 ERA and a league-leading 239 strikeouts.

Pena made $800,000 and Kazmir $424,000 in 2007. Based on their success, each would likely get a healthy pay raise if they go to arbitration.

Maddon's Thanks-mas: Manager Joe Maddon began a Rays tradition in 2006, when he prepared a holiday meal for approximately 300 needy individuals at the St. Vincent de Paul Society in St. Petersburg.

This time around, the Rays' third-year manager is spreading the event into Hillsborough and Manatee Counties, as well. In addition to a return visit to the St. Vincent de Paul Society on Dec. 12, Maddon and the Rays' front-office staff will prepare and serve meals for the Salvation Army in Bradenton, Fla., on Dec. 11 and Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa on Dec. 13.

Maddon and his volunteers will begin food preparations at Tropicana Field on Dec. 10.

Hot Stove

According to James: In "The Bill James Handbook," published on Nov. 1, groundbreaking baseball analyst Bill James ranked the best young players under the age of 29, based on both their 2007 Major League performance and their potential over the next few years. He then goes on to rank all 30 teams based on their current young talent. The Rays placed two players -- Kazmir (sixth) and James Shields (20th) -- on James' list of top 25 individual players. The Rockies were ranked first overall in terms of total young talent, with the Rays coming in second place.

To achieve his inventory, James defined "young talent" as all players who were younger than 29 years old in 2007. Then he used two widely used statistics -- "Runs Created" for position players and "Runs Allowed" for pitchers -- as the basis for comparison. However, James made several adjustments, such as how many years the player has left before he turns 33 years old.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.