Saturday, February 26, 2005

 

2005 Season Preview: Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Tampa Bay is the weakest team fighting for third place in the AL East, and I say this because of their rotation. Their bullpen is decent enough, and their lineup figures to be the same as usual with improvement from the young kids (if only Delmon Young was ready, then the Tampa fans could have a new slugger to adore).

Roberto Alomar, 2B: Chuck LaMar, GM: "Wait, you mean there is an old middle infielder with severely declining skills who doesn't have a job yet?!? I'll take two!"

Danny Bautista, RF: Danny finally got through a season with no severe injuries and put up his least impressive stat line of his career. Bautista will have his uses with Rocco Baldelli's ACL injury keeping him sidelined for some time.

Alex S. Gonzalez, 3B: So when I made that joke above about middle infielders, this was the other one. He is normally a shortstop, but the D-Rays moved him to third where his value is even smaller. Of course using the word value on Gonzalez should get me arrested. .225/.263/.368...and getting worse by the year. The good news is that his signing at third base will keep the Rays from moving uber-prospect B.J. Upton from SS to 3B, devaluing him as well. I wish they had signed Joe Randa instead though, just so I could never talk about Alex Gonzalez. Luckily TB has decided that Upton will start at SS and Lugo will swap to 3B, leaving Gonzalez without a starting job until they trade Lugo to a contender in July.

Mark Guthrie, RP: I've always had a soft spot for Guthrie *blush*. He won't hurt Tampa I'm guessing. Their bullpen is filled with guys who can throw hard but can't pitch, so any veteran who can hold the fort until they learn pitching is of value to them.

Shane Halter, 3B: Well you know he's useful to have around if you want to make Alex S. Gonzalez look like a good signing.

Travis Lee, 1B: What is Travis Lee going to do for this team? Honestly. At his best he will probably hit .250/.335/and somewhere over .400. You need more from your first basemen damnit!

Denny Neagle, SP: At this point I'm not sure I remember what Neagle looks like I haven't seem him pitch in so long. But you know he'll do better than in Coors.

Hideo Nomo, SP: Nomo's career sort of imploded last season. He always seems to rebound though, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him do alright. Then again continuing suckitude is also possible.

Josh Phelps, 1B/DH: This is the main reason the Travis Lee signing pisses me off to no end. A team like Tampa should be signing guys like Josh Phelps and Russell Branyan to see if the talent everyone knows is there ever manifests itself. Instead of using guys like Travis Lee who everyone assumes has talent because they have a pulse. Phelps struggled last year in Toronto, but so did everyone not named Carlos Delgado. Maybe it was the same blight that hit hockey. Good thing the Expos moved out of there before the Black Death of Sports hit them harder.

Chris Singleton, OF: Well he didn't play in 04', and he wasn't impressive in 03', and now he is older...I expect more of the same, which is nothing.

Brian Sweeney, RP: He got hammered in San Diego last season. .328 BAA, 1.53 WHIP. BUT! He did post 10 k's and only 2 BB's (with 17/3 for his career, a nifty 5.6 K/BB ratio). Granted it is an extremely small sample size, but is something to watch if he can stop letting all his strikes become hits. Then again the lack of walks could just be because he lays everything out over the plate for everyone to cream...even I haven't taken the time to watch him pitch ok?

Via trade: Casey Fossum for Jose Cruz Jr. Cruz is a luxury the D-Rays don't need, as they have a ton of young, talented outfielders. And Joey Gathright. Notice the separation...Gathright has tools that haven't developed into skills, but he's still on the major league roster.

1) Carl Crawford
2) Julio Lugo
3) Rocco Baldelli (out for awhile with an ACL tear)
4) Aubrey Huff
5) Josh Phelps
6) Travis Lee
7) Toby Hall
8) B.J. Upton
9) Roberto Alomar

I like Crawford/Lugo/Baldelli/Huff/Phelps/and Upton. Phelps used to catch, so he is the backup catcher on this team to spot Hall, giving them more roster flexibility. Toby Hall, Alomar, and Lee are three blackholes in the lineup. Let Jorge Cantu start at second base for the love of all that is holy and good. In a struggling sophomore season he will post better numbers than Alomar. Last year he hit .301/.341/.462 in 173 AB. When will these guys learn.

1) Dewon Brazelton
2) Mark Hendrickson
3) Rob Bell
4) Scott Kazmir
5) Casey Fossum

All of Brazelton's peripherals improved last year, but he still doesn't strike enough guys out for my liking. Also his peripherals aren't good yet, I just said improved. Hendrickson isn't what I would call a #2 starter. If he was in the 5th slot I might let this slide. Rob Bell is another D-Rays pitcher who can't strike anyone out. Seriously all of their K/9 are in the 4's and 5's, this is depressing. FINALLY, Scott Kazmir. Kazmir has more upside than anyone in this rotation. I hope he can put it together as a starter so he doesn't have to try and become a closer. Given time he will be successful...and then move on to another team when his contract expires and Tampa can't afford him. Casey Fossum was the posterchild for getting your ass whooped last season. If he can somehow find his 2002 form this will be a good pickup for the D-Rays.

I can't see Tampa finishing in third without the Orioles and Toronto seriously sputtering out of control. Fourth is possible if one of them falters though...remember last year's record was improved by that large win streak they had at one point that they never came close to again, so some decline is probably inevitable. Not to mention Baldelli is going to miss some time. Poor Tampa.

Comments:
i love how you mention the OTHER THREE as only competing for third place in the al east because in todays mlb it is all about the haves and have nots, the only problem being there are too many have nots, this only holds true if you are not in the al central where all teams are simultaneously haves as they are all in the divisional race but have nots as in when they make the playoffs they are brought back down to the reality of only being al central champions...honestly, why would you give alomar another shot? he showed his age last year in arizona but didnt ponce de leon supposidly discover the fountain of youth in florida?...between baldelli, crawford, and now upton tampa bay is proving to be the breeding grounds for some of the best young talent the only problem being that these young studs would still be refining their skills in the minors if they were in any other organization...guthrie never impressed during his time in boston/chicago, he will fit in great in that tampa bullpen...tampa bay is notorious for getting the travis lee's of philly denny neagle's on cincy and nomo's of la and turning them into the tampa bay has beens...when i read russell branyan's name i got excited because hes the man, some day i hope he can develope into a brian giles type i cant get enough of my former up and coming tribe power hitters...aubrey huff is an underrated legit power threat among tampas young speedsters...kazmir did show signs last year that he could actually pitch but also i am handicapped by the fact my knowledge of many pitchers is based solely on their performance against the red sox and not many pitchers were able to shut down the sox lineup...i am dissapointed to find fossum leaving the actual desert to be relegated to the pitching desert that is tampa bay, i still hold out hope he will pan out...this is the worst d-rays rotation i can remember without kennedy, lopez, zambrano who on any other team wouldnt have looked so special in the first place, marc you said it best POOR TAMPA
 
Where else would you expect Alomar to play? He's already played in the old-timer's league in Arizona, the next logical waste of roster space location was destined to be Tampa Bay. I can't see him ending up anywhere else, and that's not a good statement.
 
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