Archive for the 'Tampa Bay Devil Rays' Category

Tampa Bay a young team on the cusp of a break-out

Would you believe me if I told you that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays had the third highest team batting average in 2005 with a .274 average?

Or what I claimed their .425 slugging percentage was tenth best in the Majors, tied with the White Sox and ahead of Philadelphia, St. Louis, and the Angels?

What if I said their team on-base percentage, while low at .329, was just .001 lower than Billy Beane’s Oakland Athletics and significantly better than the World Champion White Sox?

For team with an eight-season mark of 518-775, good for a .401 winning percentage, these numbers are a bit hard to believe. These can’t be the same Tampa Bay Devil Rays that have never won more than 70 games in a season. Oh, but they are. And 2006 could be the year of the Devil Rays’ first winning season.

A quick trip to the Devil Rays’ official home page at DevilRays.com does little to inspire much hope in the few fans that consider themselves the Tampa faithful. The Web site proudly proclaims that this is a team under construction. The logo, the familiar if odd rainbow Devil Ray, seems doomed to extinction as the team recently announced plans to drop the Devil and maybe the Ray after 2006.

Meanwhile, the team’s tagline for the upcoming season is Rebuilding the Dream. I don’t know who’s original dream it was, but it certainly has been a nightmare so far. It seems that the new ownership groups wants to change all of that, and they have the pieces to do so.

The Devil Rays are in a somewhat similar position heading into 2006 as the Indians were at the start of 2005. After a strong second half that saw Tampa Bay end the season on a 39-34 run, the Devil Rays head into 2006 with the same lineup featuring a core of strong young players, a solid farm system, and some live, if untamed, arms in the bullpen.

In the outfield, the Rays have Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, who missed all of 2005 due to injuries, and some combination of Aubrey Huff, Jonny Gomes, and Joey Gathright. Gomes was one of the true surprises of 2005 hitting an astounding .282/.372/.534 with 21 home runs in 101 games. While Huff played below his usual All Star level, he finished with a strong second half, slugging nearly .100 points higher after the All Star break than before. This is a potent outfield.

Around the horn, the Devil Rays have Travis Lee or maybe Huff at first, star-in-the-waiting Jorge Cantu at second base, Julio Lugo, this off season’s most sought-after short stop, and Sean Burroughs or Nate Green at third. Cantu, at 23 in 2005, slugged .497 with 28 home runs and 117 RBIs. While his OBP of .311 is low, this power hitter could emerge as the game’s top offensive second baseman. As free agency nears, Lugo’s name will probably pop up in rumors throughout the season. But for now, he will open the season at short for the rebuilding Devil Rays.

Where the Devil Rays fall short is on the mound. Despite their impressive offense, the Devil Rays were 29th in team ERA with a 5.39 mark. Their staff allowed a Major League-leading 615 walks while giving up 194 home runs. But for these problems, the staff should improve in 2006.

Scott Kazmir, the team’s ace, just turned 22 and can deal. He had a 3.77 ERA last season while striking out 174 in 186 innings. His high walk total – he allowed 100 last year – should decrease as he refines his control. Mark Hendrickson, Casey Fossum, Seth McClung, and Doug Waechter all showed flashes of talent last year. If pitching coach Mike Butcher could harness the talent, he would have a decent staff.

Their bullpen is loaded with potential as well. Chad Orvella blew through the Minor Leagues, and after making the jump from AA to Tampa Bay, he could be closing for the Devil Rays this year. His Minor League K/9 IP was over 13. Reports out of training camp say that Shinji Mori has a filthy slider. After years of success in Japan, he may be a key setup man in the Tampa bullpen.

Meanwhile, the Devil Rays with a Major League roster age of just 27, have a Minor League system stocked with even younger (and in some cases better) talent. They have the number one prospect in the Minors in Delmon Young and another top 10 player in B.J. Upton had he qualified for the list. Their pitchers are still a few years away, but half of their top 10 prospects according to Baseball America are hurlers. Furthermore, they landed Dodgers prospect Edwin Jackson this winter. While Jackson has yet to mature into the next Big Thing as many thought he would, for a team in need of arms, the Devil Rays can never have too many hurlers.

With this deep Minor League system, the Devil Rays could turn two of their most sought-after players into proven arms. Julio Lugo could very well be traded this season to make way for B.J. Upton. Joey Gathright may be on the way out too. If Tampa Bay trades these two players, I would expect them to receive some prized arms in return.

The Devil Rays have long been the doormat of the American League East. With a new ownership group in place looking to attract families and new fans to the stadium while changing the marketing image of a dormant team, 2006 could be the year that Devil Rays begin to challenge the big guns in the American League East. While the playoffs are still a pipedream, the role of spoiler and that elusive .500 mark are within sight.


RSS River Ave. Blues

  • Offense wastes Tanaka’s gem, Yankees drop series opener 4-1 to Athletics May 27, 2017
    Source: FanGraphs I miss offense. I miss the days when the Yankees were putting up like seven runs a night and smacking dingers like Gary Sanchez circa August 2016. Those were the days. It was called April. The bats were mostly silent Friday night in the series opener against the Athletics. The final score was […] The post Offense wastes Tanaka’s gem, Yankee […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Game 45: Will the Real Tanaka Please Stand Up? May 26, 2017
    Masahiro Tanaka has been one of the worst starting pitchers in Major League Baseball this year. That isn’t hyperbole, either – Mike went into great detail about his struggles earlier this week. And he seems to be getting worse, with a 10.50 ERA/9.36 FIP since he shut out the Red Sox on April 27. Tanaka […] The post Game 45: Will the Real Tanaka Please Stand […]
    Domenic Lanza
  • 2017 Draft: Jake Burger May 26, 2017
    Jake Burger | 3B Background The 21-year-old Burger is a St. Louis kid who went undrafted out of high school, but has since developed into one of the top power hitters in the country at Missouri State. He is currently hitting .346/.459/.693 with 20 home runs and more walks (38) than strikeouts (30) in 52 […] The post 2017 Draft: Jake Burger appeared first on […]
    Mike Axisa
  • 5/26 to 5/28 Series Preview: Oakland Athletics May 26, 2017
    Mother nature gave the Yankees a much-needed respite yesterday, splitting their twenty games in twenty days down the middle. Their series against the A’s now represents the first game in a ten-in-ten stretch, which is far less daunting. The Last Time They Met The Yankees visited Oakland for a four-game series this time last year […] The post 5/26 to 5/28 Ser […]
    Domenic Lanza
  • Yankeemetrics: Pitching, Power and Wins (May 22-24) May 26, 2017
    Bronx Bombers Born Again The Yankees returned to the Bronx on Monday and kicked off their seven-game homestand with a sweet comeback win over the Royals, 4-2. Michael Pineda continued to shed the enigma label that had defined his time in pinstripes leading up to this season with his eighth straight start of at least […] The post Yankeemetrics: Pitching, Powe […]
    Katie Sharp
  • Mailbag: Wade, Hand, Berrios, Greinke, Tanaka, Robertson May 26, 2017
    There are 13 questions and eleven answers in this week’s mailbag. Remember to use the RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com email address to send us any questions. We get a lot of them each week, so don’t take it personally if yours doesn’t get picked. Keep trying. Many asked: Talk to me about Tyler Wade. […] The post Mailbag: Wade, Hand, Berrios, Greinke, Tanaka, […]
    Mike Axisa
  • DotF: Mateo has huge day in Tampa’s doubleheader sweep May 26, 2017
    RHP Brady Lail has rejoined Triple-A Scranton, reports Matt Kardos. The RailRiders have been short a starting pitcher since RHP Bryan Mitchell was called back up a few days ago. Lail solves that problem. RHP Colten Brewer was sent to Double-A Trenton to clear a roster spot for Lail. Triple-A Scranton was rained out. No […] The post DotF: Mateo has huge day i […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Thursday Night Open Thread May 25, 2017
    The Yankees were rained out today, but not even rain can stop HOPE Week. Today the Yankees held an event at Yankee Stadium to benefit A Moment of Magic, an organization dedicated to helping sick children by “restoring the magic of believing at a time when a child needs to ‘just be a kid’ and […] The post Thursday Night Open Thread appeared first on River Ave […]
    Mike Axisa
  • 2017 Draft: Bubba Thompson May 25, 2017
    Bubba Thompson | OF Background Thompson, 18, attends McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile, Alabama, where he plays both baseball and football. He’s a good quarterback recruit who received Division I scholarship offers for both sports, though he committed to attend Alabama, where he’ll play baseball only. Odds are it won’t matter. Thompson is expected […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Finding a second gear after a sizzling first act May 25, 2017
    There are always certain phases of the major league season. The highs and lows, the streaks and skids, fluctuating from month to month and week to week. Unlike last season, the Yankees began 2017 on fire. The start seemed reminiscent of 2010, when the team got off to a roaring start coming off a championship. […] The post Finding a second gear after a sizzli […]
    Steven Tydings

Blog Stats

  • 62,416 hits