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Old 02-19-2003, 01:19 AM
Avon Barksdale Avon Barksdale is offline
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Default Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Hiring Lou Piniella was a good start. Shoring up the defense was another great idea because in Tampa, there are going to be a lot of balls put in play this year. I am just surprised it has taken the D-Rays’ management so long to get on the right track. I honestly have no clue how the D-Rays still keep their fourteen fans in their seats.

The Bats:

1. 2B Marlon Anderson/Brent Abernathy
2. LF Carl Crawford
3. 1B Aubrey Huff
4. DH Greg Vaughn/Lee Stevens
5. C Toby Hall
6. RF Ben Grieve
7. CF Rocco Baldelli/Jason Conti
8. 3B Jared Sandberg
9. SS Rey Ordonez

I am not a not a real big fan of either of the projected leadoff hitters. Brent Abernathy, even if he fulfills his promise, still doesn’t bring a lot to the table. I think Marlon Anderson will win this job in the spring. He has shown the ability in the past to hit for a decent average and while his speed is very raw, it is still there. Anderson won’t steal many bases, but he has the ability to fly around the bases. All being said, the two should end up splitting a lot of time at second this year, while adding very little to a fantasy roster. Stay away.

Carl Crawford does show a lot of promise. Will he shine this year? No, probably not. But he will gain valuable experience and may become a complete ballplayer in a couple of years. If everything goes right, Crawford could hit .265-15-70 with about 25 swipes. From a fantasy standpoint, he could be pretty valuable with plenty of upside, especially for those in keeper leagues.

Aubrey Huff was finally given a chance to play and he did not disappoint. If the D-Rays wise up and rid themselves of Greg Vaughn, Huff will be the full-time DH, leaving one bag for Lee Stevens. Aubrey, while his average may not be in the .300’s this year, he should improve on his power numbers. A .290-30-80 season is a reasonable expectation to hold for the youngster.

Greg Vaughn is too old, too slow and is one of those hangers-on that really have no business still being in the game. He essentially plays (when healthy) to collect a check. If Jeff Galooly is looking for work, perhaps the Rays can save a little money. Seriously, Vaughn is still capable of the long ball and driving in runs, but he is always hurt and his average stinks.

Lee Stevens will be a decent bat off the bench and can spell Aubrey Huff at first, as can I…”A-U-B-R…” -sorry. It would probably be in the best interest of the club if Stevens DH’d or played first while Huff did the same…leaving Vaughn on the bench eating his strained peas.

Toby Hall will be a top three AL catcher this year. He has a very good bat and a keen eye. Hall just needs the opportunity to play everyday. If Piniella could play Dan Wilson almost everyday, Hall should never get a day off. That being said, this is Lou Piniella and no one ever knows whether he will take a shining to a player or not. He has the tendency to bury players so deep that Baseball Weekly can’t find them. I think Hall is good for about 500 at bats, hitting close to .300-18-65.

What a let down…Ben Grieve. He has to rebound from what can only be deemed a horrible year. He will have to hit to play, as defensively he is pretty bad. I think Lou might be the perfect manager for this guy because Piniella doesn’t stand for loafers. I predict Grieve to bounce back slightly this year, batting in the .275 range with 25 dingers and 80 RBI. Of course, my prediction could also be way off base as well. Bottom line is you never know which Ben Grieve is going to show up…and from a fantasy perspective that should scare you.

Rocco Baldelli really came out of nowhere last year and ended up being one of the top prospects in the game. Is he ready for “The Show”? I don’t think so. I’d like to see Baldelli spend a full season at AAA. Obviously this club isn’t going anywhere, so there is no need to rush their talent. Most publications have Baldelli starting in center, but I am not so sure. I have him penciled in there, but I would avoid overpaying for him. Chances are he is up for a bit, he hits around .250 with five dingers then he goes back to AAA for some seasoning, pushing Carl Crawford to center until his return. He will return, however, and when he does it will be to stay. This kid can play.

I don’t know what to expect from Jared Sandberg this year. He really needs to cut down on his strikeouts. Sandberg promised to work on plate patience this off-season and he did so by hitting a whopping .182 in Puerto Rico. Those damned pitchers down there wouldn’t throw him any fastballs…pretty nervy of them. He does have some pop and can flash the leather, but he really needs to boost that average if he wants to be a starter. Chris Truby, his clone, will push him this spring.

Big glove, little bat, Rey Ordonez will be a welcome addition to the lineup, at least for the pitchers. The Rays made a good move in trading for him, shoring up their porous defense. Playing in Tropicana Field should help Rey boost his power numbers this year, likely coming close to doubling his career high of three. Ordonez is one of the worst fantasy shortstops a guy could own, as his .243 career batting average will attest. Did I mention he can’t run either?

The Arms:

1. Joe Kennedy
2. Dewon Brazelton
3. Victor Zambrano
4. Steve Parris
5. Nick Bierbrodt/Jim Parque

Kennedy is a good pitcher. He will keep the Rays in most games and provide decent numbers across the board, if strikeouts aren’t a category in your league. Nevertheless, Kennedy enters the season as the staff ace, but I don’t know if that’s a title that I would brag about. He should be good for 10-12 wins with an ERA around 4.20.

Dewon Brazelton has the best arm in the rotation; he only lacks experience. The Rays have to be careful not to over-pitch their future ace and I don’t think Lou will, although he was never much of a pitcher’s manager. Brazelton should be on a pitch count this season, but should still be able to ring off 10 or so wins, while maintaining an ERA around 4.40…I doubt very much that his WHIP will help a contending team this year though. Keeper leagues should take a long look at Dewey.

Zambrano was supposed to be the future closer here and there is still a chance that could happen if he falters in the rotation. I would rather see him closing out games, but the Rays don’t have a lot of arms that can start games. He’ll be given a look, but I think ultimately his value will be in the pen. I think Victor will rack up 7 wins and a handful of saves this year.

Pray for rain…I wouldn’t want Steve Parris, Nick Bierbrodt or Jim Parque on my team. Why should you?

The closer role is up in the air this spring with candidates Lance Carter, Travis Harper, Jesus Colome and Travis Phelps are vying for the role. Other possibilities are journeyman Mel Rojas and John Frascatore. Colome has the most upside of the group even though he keeps gaining in years. He just needs to mentally grow into his 100 mph arm.

The future of the Rays seems to be shaping up with the development of Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli and Dewon Brazelton. They do have some other prospects in the mix that will make this club very interesting in the next few years, if further development continues. Shortstop B.J. Upton is one who could make a splash, as he has the talent to become a five-tool shortstop and draws comparisons to a young Derek Jeter. He has great range and soft hands to go along with a Major League arm. Upton will develop plus power when he grows into his 18-year-old body. Josh Hamilton has been on the blue chip list for several years now. One day he will be healthy and will show the baseball world what he can do. Hamilton’s left-handed swing has both quickness and power. His slews of injuries have reduced his speed somewhat, but he is still fairly fleet of foot. He must begin to show he can be healthy, as he is now 22 in a system full of outfield prospects. Another couple of hitting prospects to keep an eye on is Jason Pridie and Wes Bankston. Pridie is a five-tools prospect that will add more pop when he develops and Bankston already has that pop. Bankston draw back is he has to learn not to get home run conscious with every at bat.
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Old 03-08-2003, 09:44 PM
gradysfalcon gradysfalcon is offline
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With Sweet Lou trying to make some sort of sense out of his new inherited D'Rays offense, alot of positions could end up being wide open. Still trying to tinker with an everyday lineup (one you probably will see undergo many changes as the season wears on), the latest look has ex-Phillie castaway Marlon Anderson leading off (playing in the OF) and Rey Ordonez hitting second. Rey Ordonez second? Oh my.
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