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2008 Season Previews: Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Welcome to the first of 30 "2008 Team Previews", where I'll be - you guessed it! - offering up a little preview of the 2008 season for each of the teams. Nothing super fancy, (I'm not writing books here munecas), just a few notes on what major moves the teams made over the winter and a thought or two on their upcoming season. I'll be going in reverse order of 2007 standings, so first up is....

what the hell am I?Tampa Bay Devil Rays

2007 Record: .407 (66-96) - Last place in... entire MLB. Again.

2006 Record: .377 (61-101) - Last place in... entire MLB

Who’s Out: Brian Stokes (P), Chris Snelling (OF), Elijah Dukes (OF), Delmon Young (OF), "Devil" (name).

Who’s In: Bench Coach Dave Martinez, Cliff Floyd (OF), Grant Balfour (P), Gary Glover (P), Troy Percival (P), Matt Garza (P), More Payroll ($)

Notes: Devil is out, payroll is up (70%, in fact, which is quite a hefty raise -- even if you spent just $31.8 mil last year), and the Rays are looking to the future, kiddos. They've got the top ranked prospect int he league, 3B Evan Longoria, coming to Spring Training to see if he's ready for an opening day start with the team, and overall a lot fewer questions marks on the roster than they have had to deal with in years past ("who the heck is playing on this team?" seemed to be a common theme). Jake from the DRaysBay blog had this to say about his team: "This offseason was a bit of a shocker with the Rays: Payroll increase 70% from last years Opening Day Payroll (we went from being 1/10th the Yankees Payroll to 1/5th), we made trades, signed 2 "name" veterans and we signed former Yankees farmhand Carlos Pena and homegrown starter Jamie/James Shields to long-term deals. In many Rays fans' minds, it's .500 or bust for the team that has yet to win over 70 games and we feel we've got the 3rd best team in the division."*

*if you have a non-Yanks blog and want to chime in when it's your team's turn, let me know!

Next up: Pittsburgh Pirates

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Tuesday, February 05, 2008  
  • At 10:36 AM, Blogger Irish Cream said…

    3rd best team? I know being a blogger for the Rays requires large amounts of optimism (and apparently drugs), but I wouldn't be too sure they can leap frog the B-Jays (horrible pun on words, I know). Their starting pitching is finally starting to catch up to their position players, and their front three has a huge upside. It's also very young, even though Kaz has been around for a few years now. I think the big question mark with the Rays that Toronto has over them is bullpen. They're counting on Troy Percival to continue his successful revival tour and for Al Reyes to return to his pre-injury form. However, even before the injury last season Reyes started to fall back down to earth. Other than those two, there isn't an ERA under 5 in sight. Evan Langoria hopefully won't turn into the next Andy Marte and Rocco Baldelli's balsa wood bones will stay intact.

    Did I seriously type that much info about the Rays? I have to be jonesin' bad for some baseball to pull that off.

  • At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Jake said…

    It's all about the "eye of the beholder". The Rays used Free Agency(when did you ever think of reading those words) and pulled off a trade to get more players than the Jays did.

    I could be wrong, but Troy Glaus for Scott Rolen is laughable. In both hitting and, surprisingly fielding, Glaus actually rated higher than Rolen did in 2008. Rolen is long gone from his .300-30-100-100 days and he's been plagued with injuries in the last couple of years.

    They also signed David Eckstein, who basically goes along with JP Riccardi's affection with pastey white players. He's not so much of a fielder and he'll be stealing ABs from better hitters/fielders like Aaron Hill and John McDonald.

    I know that people don't believe the Percival signing did much for the Rays, but it actually did. We've got the oldest set-up/closer duo in baseball and also gives a veteran presence in the pitching staff. Brian Stokes, Jeff Ridgway and a few other "Batting Practice" pitchers were also dropped from the Rays. Addition by subtraction.

    The Rays improved their defense up the middle and their pitchers should improve just from those improvements.

    I'll keep saying this, but the Rays aren't going to be a fun team to face. The Yankees have had losing or split season series against us in 2 of the last 3 years(11-8 in 2005 and a split record against us last year)

  • At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Jimbo said…

    I don't know if I'd say 3rd in the division... I could see them coming in ahead of the O's, but the Jays is a stretch.

  • At 8:31 PM, Blogger Irish Cream said…

    Hmmm...I forgot David the Gnome signed with the Jays. I guess that's considered subtraction by addition. I think Riccardi jettisoned Glause for two reasons:

    1) Suspected steroid use. Questions were swirling around, and the last thing any GM wants is that issue being pounded into them by the media every damn day.

    2) Pray Scott Rolen is healthy. When Rolen is *healthy* (a rarity in recent years), he is one of the most dependable 3rd basers on the field and at the plate. Not that Glaus was a pushover, but once again, that #1 issue...

    The telling sign of the Jays is their deep pitching staff that is always tested due to injury. BJ Ryan gets inured for the season early on and their bullpen was still really good. But when you combine that with injuries to the starting staff and their offense, and they were destined for failure. That's a huge advantage the Rays have is that their team has a better track record health-wise. We'll see if it's enough.

    Hell, if the Rockies can make the WS with their pitching staff (probably because they were the only team in that division with an OFFENSE), anything is possible. God bless baseball!

  • At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Jake said…

    This, again, is evidence why I like the Yankees as division rivals more than I like the Red Sox. We can always "agree to disagree", using valid reasons for both sides of the argument, and not make things personal.

    Too bad that the Red Sux can't be as cordial. Why do you think the Rays keep setting up "Cowbell" giveaways during a home Boston series? Drown out the noise that a "wicked hit there, papi" yell brings.

    Hopefully I can show up more during the season and chat with you guys.

    -Jake Larsen,
    DRays Bay

  • At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Adrian said…

    What the fuck kind of mascot is that, honestly?

  • At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Mister MonkeyBones said…

    I say:

    Tampa Bay
    New York

    Yep! That's right! Lowly Tampa embarasses NY in 2008. Taking the series 15-3

    Boston repeats (with or w/o The BIG Schill)

  • At 1:25 PM, Anonymous mets guy said…

    The Rays will be the most exciting team to watch in 2008, and I expect they can contend for a playoff spot soon after.

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