Friday, June 30, 2006

One Small Step For The Devil Rays, One Giant Leap For Josh Hamilton

It came about two weeks later than expected, but Major League Baseball has finally given Josh Hamilton permission to play baseball. Earlier this month Hamilton was given permission to participate in extended spring training. The next obvious step was to reinstate Hamilton and allow him to report to one of the low-level minor league teams. The wording of this reinstatement sounds like the league hasn't fully reinstated Hamilton. He will be allowed to participate in minor league games. If and when Josh is ever ready to play for the Devil Rays may still require the permission of Major League Baseball. That may even include any participation with the big league club in Spring Training next season. At 25, Josh is four seasons removed from his last official baseball game and has only played 23 games above single-A. Needless to say we are skeptical, at best, of ever seeing Hamilton play for the Devil Rays in the Trop, but we wouldn't put it past a kid who many have labeled as the best prospect they ever saw. To date, there have been two overall #1 picks that never made the major leagues (Brien Taylor, 1991 by the Yankees and Steve Chilcutt, 1966 by the Mets). Josh Hamilton (and to a lesser extent Matt Bush, 2004 by the Padres) is in real danger of joining that infamous list. If he is going to avoid that dubious distinction, he needs to come out swinging and show everybody why the Devil Rays gave him a $4 million bonus out of high school and why the team continues to stick by their former phenom. And he needs to do it soon, real soon.

Hamilton will begin his comeback with the short-season single-A Husdon Valley Renegades on Monday night against the Brooklyn Cyclones.

So what is the final chapter in the Josh Hamilton story going to look like? Will it look like Brien Taylor? Or will it look like Roy Hobbs? Here is hoping that reality
can be stranger than fiction.

Hamilton reinstated by MLB []
Josh Hamilton coming to the Hudson Valley Renegades [Hudson Valley Renegades]


Devil Rays @ Washington Nationals Tidbits
  • This series marks the Devil Rays first ever appearance in Washington D. C.
  • The Rays are 34-45, 15.5 games behind the Red Hose and 2.5 games arear of the O's. They have lost 4 of 6 including a series loss to the Marlins. Tampa is now 10-5 in interleague games heading into their final three games versus a National League opponent.
  • The Nationals are 33-47, 15 games behind the New York Mets, in last place of the NL East. They are coming off a series sweep at the hands of the Blue Jays, and have lost 8 of last 9 and 13 of last 16. Washington is 5-10 in interleague games.
  • The Devil Rays will be sending three starting pitchers to the mound in this series that were not on the opening day roster.
  • If you would like to see a National's Blogger's take on Alfonso Soriano playing the outfield, look no further than here. While the National's have one of the worst teams in baseball, they do have one of the better sports blogs in the Blogosphere. RI hopes to one day grow up to be just like Ball-Wonk.

Probable Pitchers
Friday, 7:05 et
Devil Rays Tim Corcoran, RHP (1-0, 2.16)
Washington Mike O'Connor, LHP (3-4, 3.39)

Saturday, 7:05 et
Devil Rays James Shields, RHP (4-1, 4.37)
Washington Livan Hernandez, RHP (6-8, 5.57)

Sunday, 1:05 et
Devil Rays Jae Seo, RHP (0-0, 0.00)
Washington Ramon Ortiz, RHP (5-5, 5.18)


Evan Longoria: A Man Among Rookies

A few days ago, we commented about the torrid start of the Devil Rays first round selection Eva Evan Longoria. Andrew Freidman had stated that the plan was for Longoria to play the 2006 regular season at Hudson Valley and then spend this fall in the Arizona Fall League working at different positions (2B, SS). While other first round picks are just beginning to negotiate contracts, Longoria has already earned his first promotion. He is being moved to the high-A Visalia Oaks, in the process, bypassing the low-A Southwest Michigan Devil Rays (The Devil Rays tend to send hitting prospects to the hitter-friendly California League and pitching prospects to SW Michigan). At Hudson Valley, Longoria batted .424 (14-33) with 4 home runs and 11 RBI in only 8 games. Is Longoria on the fast track to the major leagues?

update: We are quickly turning into big Evan Longoria fans and are working on a nickname. There is too much to love about this guy. First and foremost is the picture above. Gotta love the old-school look with the pants just below the knees. Add to that is fact that Longoria played for a college baseball team whose nickname is "Dirtbags". This kid just reeks "baseball player". In a time when too many scouts and GMs talk about skills, tools and talent, it is nice to see a team draft a player that may not be the fastest or throw the hardest but ust happens to be a really good baseball player. We'll take a team full of Longoria's anytime.



Devil Rays' Minor League All-Stars
  • Firstbaseman Kevin Witt was elected by the fans to start the AAA All-Star game. Witt is hitting .294 and leads the IL with 19 home runs and is second with 53 RBI. Shortstop B. J. Upton and catcher Shawn Riggans were named as reserves. Upton is hitting .258-5-31 with an IL leading 30 stolen bases. Riggans is hitting .305-8-36. [Durham Bulls]
  • Five players from the Montgomery Biscuits were named to the AA Southern League All-Star game. The participants include catcher Ryan Christianson, third baseman Wes Bankston, second baseman Elliot Johnson, and starting pitcher Jim Magrane. Relief pitcher Juan Salas was also named to the team, but will not participate due to his recent promotion to the Devil Rays, er...we mean the Durham Bulls. Christianson is hitting .217, but is second in the SL with 13 home runs. Johnson is hitting .288-10-31 with 13 stolen bases. Bankston spent a portion of the first half on the disabled list and is hitting .288-3-17 in 35 games. Magrane is 9-6 with a 3.26 ERA and leads the SL in wins.
  • The single-A California League has already conducted their all-star game, losing to the Carolina League all-stars 6-3. Shortstop Reid Brignac, left fielder Patrick Breen, and DH John Jaso were named to the team. The Cajun God of Baseball, Brignac was named top player for the CL team after going 2-4 with an RBI. Breen (0-4) and Jaso (1-3) were also starters.
  • The low-A Midwest League had their all-star game on Tuesday June 20, with five players from the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays. Starting pitchers Wade Davis, Jacob McGee, Mike Wlodarczyk, closer Greg Dupas and first baseman Rhyne Hughes were named to the east squad. The East beat the West 7-1. McGee pitched the second inning and picked up the victory. Davis pitched one out, and Dupas pitched a perfect 9th with 2 strikeouts. Hughes was used as a pinch hitter and got a single. Wlodarczyk did not play.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Devil Ray Blogtopia
  • Nice pickup by new Devil Rays Blog Rays of Light. Apparently the Mets were interested in Seo before he was acquired by the Rays. The Mets may be interested in Julio Lugo (to play 2B), and could try to get Seo also. [Rays of Light]
  • Raystalk does not hold back in their in depth analysis of B. J. Upton. In short, they would like Upton to be called up to play SS this season and have him fall flat on his face. This would give Upton incentive to move to a new position. We also agree very strongly with the following statement..."until there is an OF glut, there is no such thing as an OF glut." [Raystalk]
  • One blogger has named Carl Crawford and Jonny Gomes to the All-Star under-25 team. Where is Kid K?. [Sox1Fan]
  • "Hot Carl for Crawford"? [Apimpment255]
  • C. C. Baseball's best basestealer? [Baseball's Best]
  • My Blog agrees. There! Its unanimous. Interestingly, they also name former Ray Joey Gathright as the #5 speedster. [My Blog]
  • What would C. C. command in a trade? Here is one possibility. [Strike Two]
  • Lot of talk recently about all the troubles of the Devil Rays' top prospects. Quite frankly, we are tired of hearing about it. We all knew Elijah Dukes was trouble and we had an inkling about Delmon Young, but nobody could have predicted this. And what athlete hasn't been picked up for DUI? [The Prospect Pulse][Naughty Baseball]
  • And here is an excellent write-up on Elijah Dukes from someone that watched him in his days at AA Montgomery [Talk Alabama]
  • For those of you that are regular readers of RI, you know how much we love Juan Salas down at Durham. Is he one of the top 5 relief pitchers in the minors? The stats don't lie. [Inside The Dugout]
  • Dmitri Young...Delmon's Role Model [The Wayne Fontes Experience]


Welcome To The Devil Rays

Devil Rays 3, Florida 1. (Quick Note: What is wrong with Casey Fossum's arm in this picture? Is it us, or does it look like it he does not have an elbow? Does this explain why his most effective pitch is the 45 mph Fossum Flop? Yes we like the name "Fossum Flop" much better than "Fossum Flip".) Both Dioner Navarro and Jae Seo made their debuts for the Rays last night. Navarro was in the starting lineup and batted 8th. He was 0-2 with 2 walks. Our first thoughts on Navarro? The is big. We do see the similarity with Ivan Rodriguez, which is the origin of Navarro's nickname "Pudgito" or "Little Pudge". But there is a distinct difference. This kid is much bigger than Pudge from the knees to the chest. Navarro has some of the biggest legs we have ever seen on a baseball player. Seo also made an appearance out of the bullpen. He relieved Fossum in the 6th and pitched 2 scoreless innings, allowing 1 hit and 2 walks. Our first thoughts on Seo? Well, he needs a new tailor. The guys over at Uniwatch noticed right away that Seo's nameplate was upside down (it curved up instead of down). We also noticed, that for some reason Seo is going with the number 98. In Japan and his stints with the Mets and Los Angeles, Seo wore the number 26. Needless to say, we don't think Seo will be able to pry 26 from Kid K. But 98? 98 is a number worn by non-roster invitees in Spring Training. Well, it seemed to work for him last night. As for pitching out of the bullpen...Seo is scheduled to be the starting pitcher on Sunday. Joe Maddon did indicate before the game that Seo would be available from the bullpen and that it would not affect his scheduled start on Sunday since Seo has been pitching relief in Los Angeles.
The Devil Rays have the day off today as they travel to D. C. to play the Nationals.

Turn that frown upside-down [Uniwatch]


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Carl Crawford Is Not Going Anywhere
A couple of weeks ago we commented on the recent trade rumors involving Carl Crawford. At the time we talked at length about why it might be a very beneficial to trade a player that is young (24), signed through 2010 at a reasonable rate, and a future All-Star. In short, the Devil Rays do not have a more valuable piece (other than Scott Kazmir) at a position that could potentially be filled from within. A player like C. C. would command a hefty price on the trading market. The main team said to have inquired about C. C. is the Anaheim Los Angeles Angels (with Detroit and Colorado also rumored). The proposal involved Ervin Santana, one of the best young pitchers in the American League and possibly one or two minor league prospects.

What we did not say at the time and we should have made clear, is that while we understand the reasoning behind trading Crawford, we think the chance of Crawford being moved before the trading deadline is highly unlikely. In fact there is a better chance of the Devil Rays rehiring Chuck LaMar . We would be shocked if Crawford is not playing for Tampa Bay for the next four or five years. There are several reasons for this...

1. The Devil Rays have a plan. That plan is the same for most small-market teams. Develop young talent and then lock them up to long-term deals that span their arbitration years and their first few years of free agency. It benefits the player who may only be making the major league minimum their first few years, and benefits the team with below market salaries later in the contract if the player turns into a stud. In this case, Crawford fits that mold perfectly and it would not make sense for the Devil Rays to trade him.

2. The recent troubles of minor league prospects Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes as well as the recent trade sending Joey Gathright to the Royals, shows that the teams depth at outfield may not be what many thought it was.

3. This is the most important point...What exactly would C. C. command in a trade? Presumably Ervin Santana and a couple of minor leaguers was not enough and it probably should not be. So if the team was to trade Crawford, what would it take to pry him off the hands of Tampa? A couple of names come to mind...Dontrelle Willis and C. C. Sabathia (C. C. for C. C.?). This is not to say that the Marlins or Indians have any interest in Crawford, but this is the type of player that it would take, and we just can't see a trade like that happening. It would take a young pitcher that has already proved it at the major league level with the potential to be an All-Star year-in and year-out. Those type of trades don't happen very often. The Mets have been trying to trade for Barry Zito for two years.

While trade rumors and proposals are floating around in the Blogosphere, we hope and expect them to experience the same fate of most rumors...a quick and painless death, while #13 continues to roam the left field of the Trop and cause havoc on the basepaths.



A Look At The Future: Down On The Farm
  • Evan Longoria. In his first week of professional games, Longoria is making the Devil Rays look good with their selection of the infielder with the 4th pick in this year's draft. In 7 games, Longoria has 14 hits and is batting .452 with 4 home runs and 11 RBI. In his first week, he has a 5-6 game and last night he was 3-4 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI. And while it is still early, he has an impressive 4:3 strikeout to walk ratio. Andrew Friedman has stated that the plan is to have Longoria play the entire season at Hudson Valley, and manager Joe Maddon is on the record as saying that the team's prospects need to prove themselves at each level before they will be promoted. It will be interesting to see if the team moves up the timetable for Longoria if he continues to dominate the single A New York-Penn league.
  • Jeff Niemann. Niemann made his second start of the 2006 season Sunday. The team continues to bring him back slowly as Niemann only worked four innings picking up his second loss. He allowed 3 hits, 2 walks and 3 runs, while striking out 5. The Biscuits have yet to score a run in Niemann's starts.
  • Delmon Young. Young has picked up right where left off, following his 50-game suspension. In 7 games he is 9-24 (.375). Unfortunately he still hasn't shown the power this season that is expected from him. In those 7 games, he has 1 extra-base hit (double) and 4 RBI. In 27 games Young has only 5 extra-base hits (4 doubles and 1 triple). No home runs must be a reason for concern for the Devil Rays brass. Delmon had 26 home runs between Montgomery and Durham last season and is considered one of the better power prospects in the minors.
  • J. P. Howell. Howell was scheduled to make his second start for the Durham Bulls last night, but the game was rained out. Look for Howell to be on the mound for today's double-header.
  • Juan Salas. The minor league player we want most to see playing in the Trop? B. J.? No... Delmon? No... Jeff Niemann? No...The player we want in the majors more than anybody is Juan Salas. Another week for Salas and another week not allowing any runs. The converted infielder can hit the upper 90s with a fastball that has been labeled as a "natural cutter". Since his promotion to Durham, Salas has pitched 7 innings in 5 appearances, allowing 2 hits and 4 walks, while striking out 8. We understand that Salas has only been in Durham for two weeks, and the team does not want to rush him, but what are they waiting for? He does walk batters a little more than you would like, but it seems like nobody can hit him. In 41.2 innings this season, he has allowed 15 (!) hits. The Devil Rays need help in the bullpen. Juan Salas is that help.
  • Other Notes. Kevin Witt continues to lead the International League in home runs and RBI with 19 and 53. He is hitting .297 and has major league experience. Look for Witt to share time with Ty Wiggington at first base if and when Travis Lee is traded...B. J. Upton leads the IL in stolen bases with 30, but has been caught 13 times. He is hitting .264-5-31...2B Eliot Johnson is hitting .290-10-30 with 11 doubles, 7 triples and 13 stolen bases at Montgomery...SS Reid Brignac is 3rd in the California League with a .334 batting average, and is 4th in home runs with 14...Jacob McGee and Wade Davis are 1-2 in the Midwest League with 108 and 101 strikeouts respectively.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hall And Hendrickson Shipped To Dodgers

Major League Baseball just announced that the deal to send Toby Hall and Mark Hendrickson to the Dodgers has been finalized. Tampa receives catcher Dioner Navarro, right handed pitcher Jae Seo and a player to be named later.

Navarro was one of the prospects the Dodgers received in the three-way trade that sent Randy Johnson to the Yankees and Shawn Green to the Diamondbacks. Navarro is young (22) and is considered a very strong defensive catcher, that is yet to develop as a hitter. He was named the Yankees 2003 minor league player of the year after splitting the season between Tampa and Trenton where he hit .341 with 3 home runs in 58 games. He was considered the Dodger's catcher of the future and had played 25 games in Dodger Blue this season batting .280 with 2 home runs and was considered expendable with the emergence of Russell Martin. Navarro recently spent a stint on the DL with a bone bruise in his wrist and when he was activated was optioned to AAA Las Vegas where his hitting .175 in 11 games.

Seo, 29 was traded to the Dodgers this past off-season after spending parts of the past 3 seasons with the Mets. This season he was 2-4 with a 5.78 ERA in 10 starts (19 appearances) with the Dodgers and had recently been demoted to the bullpen. Last season for the Mets he showed signs of brilliance, going 8-2 with a 2.59 ERA in 14 starts after a mid-season call-up.

As we stated earlier today, we understand the logic behind this trade. Both Hendrickson and Hall are arbitration eligible at the end of the season, which means the team will save $8-12 million in salary in 2007 that can be used to bring in one or two free agent pitchers. We are a bit concerned about the young pitching staff working without a veteran behind the plate. On the other hand, catcher is the one position where the Devil Rays lack a strong major league prospect. Trading for Navarro gives Tampa their starting catcher for the next 10 years. The addition of Seo makes the trade a more palatable. Seo has a bigger upside than Hendrickson although he has struggled this season. If Seo can rediscover his form from 2005, this deal could end up being a steal for the Rays.

As for the "player to be named later"...the Dodger's most likely gave the Devil Rays a list of 3-5 minor leaguers, and the Rays have a certain number of weeks to scout those players and determine which one they want. Look for this player to be a low-level minor leaguer with marginal major league potential.

Rays acquire Navarro and Seo from the Dodgers []


Are Mark Hendrickson And Toby Hall On Their Way To La-La Land?

The Devil Rays have already made one trade sending Joey Gathright to the Royals for a promising pitching prospect, J. P. Howell. There are also rumors that several teams (Angels, Rockies, others?) are pursuing Carl Crawford (more on that later). In addition, the Rays have several veterans that are slated to be free agents at the end of the season, including Aubrey Huff, Julio Lugo and Travis Lee. Now the Tampa Tribune is reporting that the Rays are close to completing a deal that would send Mark Hendrickson and Toby Hall to the Dodgers for catching prospect Dioner Navarro.

Navarro was one of the prospects sent to the Dodgers in the three-way trade that sent Randy Johnson to the Yankees and Shawn Green to the Diamondbacks. Navarro is young (22) and is considered a very strong defensive catcher, that is yet to develop as a hitter. He was named the Yankees 2003 minor league player of the year after splitting the season between Tampa and Trenton where he hit .341 with 3 home runs in 58 games. He is considered the Dodger's catcher of the future and has played 25 games in Dodger Blue this season batting .280 with 2 home runs. Navarro is considered expendable with the emergence of Russell Martin. Navarro recently spent a stint on the DL with a bone bruise in his foot and when he was activated was optioned to AAA Las Vegas where his hitting .175 in 11 games.

The question is...Is Hall and Hendrickson too big a price to pay for a catching prospect? We have no trouble trading Hendrickson, who just turned 32, and would be considered to be worth a lot on the trade market as a left handed starter who eats up innings and has a strong ERA if not a record to reflect how well he has pitched this season. His contract for this season is reasonable at approximately $2 million. The problem is Hendrickson is arbitration eligible at the end of the season and likely would command a hefty raise. Toby Hall is in a similar boat making slightly more this season ($2.3 million) and is also arbitration eligible at the end of the season. We can't see Hall increasing his salary too much, but he will command a raise. Where our concern lies is in how the loss of Huff will affect the pitching staff. A pitching staff as young as the Rays' with the likes of Kid K, James Shields, Tim Corcoran, Edwin Jackson and company, needs a veteran presence behind the plate. In addition, Hall is starting to develop into a solid offensive contributor. He will never be an all-star at the plate, but we can see him becoming a .280-20-80 hitter. Then again, Hall is 31 himself, and his shelf-life as a catcher we begin to decline in the next couple of years. But by then, the staff will have matured Hendrickson and Hall too big a price? Hard to say. The team will save a lot of money from the 2007 payroll. We would guess that team would save $8-12 million by moving both players, which could be used to bring in one or two veteran pitchers. The other reason this trade makes sense, is that catcher is the one position in the minors that the Devil Rays lack a strong major league prospect. Navarro would likely immediately step in and become the Rays' starting catcher for the next decade. The move would make more sense if the team can bring in a veteran backup catcher for the 2007 season at a cheap price.

Of course there could be a small bidding war for Hendrickson and Hall. The Yankees have shown interest in Hall, having scouted him several times. Now that Vince Naimoli is no longer running the team, there is a better chance of the Rays and Yankees working together, considering the animosity between George Steinbrenner and Naimoli. However, we find it hard to believe that the Yankees can generate a package that would be strong enough to entice the Tampa Brass.

So then who is next if this trade goes through? The logical and obvious choices are Huff and Lugo and to a lesser extent, Travis Lee. Huff has started his traditional second half surge in the last couple of weeks, in which he has raised his average from below the Mendoza Line to .242, batting .325 in June after a .175 May and .182 April. Huff and Lugo have been the object of other team's affections for over a year and will be moved before the July 31 trading deadline. Huff could be a target for the Detroit Tigers who could use a DH. Moving Lugo (several teams are interested) would open the door for B. J. 'Don't Call Me Melvin' Upton. The team needs to see if Upton is a Major League shortstop and could use the second half of this season to make that determination. His bat and speed are ready, and need to be in the bigs. The wildcard is Travis Lee. Lee could command a mid-level minor league prospect from a contending team, looking for a solid defensive first baseman that could come off the bench late in games (New York Yankees?).

As the calendar is about to turn to July, the next 5 weeks could be the busiest trading month ever for this young franchise. The new regime has already shown that they are not afraid to pull the trigger on a trade and we would not be surprised if on August 1st, Lugo, Huff, Hendrickson, Hall and Lee are all playing elsewhere.

Rays May Trade Hall, Hendrickson []
Trade bait lures Nats, Brewers [Newsday]
As Upton waits, trading Lugo makes sense [St. Pete Times]


Monday, June 26, 2006

Devil Rays @ Florida Marlins Tidbits
  • The Devil Rays swept the Marlins at the Trop on May 19-21.
  • Tampa is 33-43, 13 games behind the Red Sox and 1.5 games behind the Orioles.
  • The Marlins are 32-40, 13.5 games behind the New York Mets. Florida just lost 2 of 3 at Yankee Stadium, including a split of a Sunday day-night double header. They have won 21 of 30.
  • The Rays are 9-3 in interleague play this season and Florida is 6-6.
  • The Devil Rays will throw two lefties in this series. The Marlins are 5-11 this season against southpaws.
  • Tampa will not have face Dontrelle Willis who threw against the Yankees on Sunday. Rookie of the Year candidate Dan Uggla will also miss the series with a sore hamstring.
  • Six Yankees will make more this season that the entire Florida Marlins roster ($14 million).
  • The Rays have batted .270 as a team since Rocco Baldelli's return. They batted .240 prior to his return. In those 12 games, the team has recorded at least 10 hits 11 times. In their first 59 games they did that 13 times.
  • In only 5 starts this season, James Shields leads AL rookies in wins. Tonight he will attempt to be the first Devil Ray ever to win 5 games in a single month.
  • Marlins Blogs are not getting too excited about this series. Fish Chunks went with the sarcastic route, while Fish Stripes decided on the National Spelling Bee preview.

Probable Pitchers

Monday, 7:05 et
Devil Rays James Shields, RHP (4-0, 3.00)
Florida Josh Johnson, RHP (6-4, 2.01)

Tuesday, 7:05 et
Devil Rays Scott Kazmir, LHP (9-4, 3.21)
Florida Ricky Nolasco, RHP (5-4, 3.15)

Wednesday, 7:05 et
Devil Rays Casey Fossum, LHP (2-3, 5.25)
Florida Scott Olsen, LHP (6-3, 4.60)


Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Devil Rays To Turn Back The Clock To...The 1970s?
Huh? Did we read that right? Yes, The Devil Rays and the Braves tonight will wear throwback uniforms from the 1970's. That shouldn't be too hard for the Braves. In fact, we were always fans of the baby blue jerseys and the lower-case, script "a" the Braves wore during the late 60s and 70s. On the other hand, the Rays? Throwbacks from the 1970s? The team will wear uniforms from the Tampa Tarpons. The Tarpons were a single-A minor league team that was affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds for most of their existence. We are just grateful that the front office decided not to go with these throwbacks, or these...And we are soooooooo glad they won't be wearing these caps. Did we actually own one of those caps? Just goes to show you how badly we wanted major league baseball on the west coast of Florida. We thought those looked good.

The Devil Rays sister franchise, across the bay, The Buccaneers, have yet to participate in the NFLs recent spate of throwback games. Many have labeled the orange uniforms the worst in the history of the NFL. That may be, but there will always be a soft spot in our heart for Bucco Bruce and the old-school Bucs look. In fact, we kinda wish the Bucs would go throwback just once, and bring back the uniform that
Doug Williams and Lee Roy Selmon once wore (We do it in Madden all the time...Maybe on Thanksgiving this season?). As long as it is not the neon orange and red the team wore the last couple of years.

But...we find it hard to believe that we will
ever clamor for a Devil Rays throwback that involves purple, teal, blue, yellow and whatever other colors were in those original uniforms. In fact, we were kinda hoping that we would not even be able to find pictures of them on the internet, so that we can pretend it never actually happened.

Rays to "Turn Back the Clock" []


Friday, June 23, 2006

D-Rays vs. Atlanta Braves Tidbits
Probable Pitchers
  • The Braves have lost 10 straight and are 2-18 in June. They are 30-43, 15.5 games behind the Mets in last place in the NL East. Atlanta is 0-6 in interleague games this season.
  • The Devil Rays have won 5 of last 6. Tampa is 32-41, 11.5 games behind the Red Sox and half a game behind the O's in the Battle For The Basement. Tampa is 8-1 in interleague games this season.
  • Key Braves Brian Jordan and John Thompson are on the disabled list and will miss the series
  • The Braves bullpen may actually be worse than the Rays. Atlanta has 15 blown saves in 30 opportunities.
  • We are worried about the Braves Bloggers. They are suffering thought their worst season since 1990 and things are only getting worse. Of course, it couldn't be their fault, right?
  • Former Devil Ray Jorge Sosa is still listed as the scheduled starter for Sunday, but word in the Blogosphere is that Sosa has just been moved to the bullpen and is likely to be the Braves closer in this series. Sosa leads the league in home runs allowed. It looks like the Sunday start will be made by Chuck James who made 7 appearances out of the bullpen earlier this season and was just recalled from AAA Richmond.

Friday, 7:15 et

Atlanta John Smoltz, RHP (4-5, 3.78)
Devil Rays Casey Fossum, LHP (2-3, 5.45)

Saturday, 7:15 et

Atlanta Lance Cormier, RHP (2-2, 6.57)

Devil Rays Tim Corcoran, RHP (0-0, 2.70)

Sunday, 1:15 et

Atlanta Chuck James, RHP (0-0, 2.38)
Devil Rays Mark Hendrickson, LHP (4-7, 3.75)


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sean Burroughs, We Hardly Knew Ye
3B Sean Burroughs acquired during the off-season for Dewon Brazelton in a trade of former first round busts has been designated for assignment by the Devil Rays. We were downright giddy earlier this season when Brazelbum was sent down to the minors as we were just happy that he was gone. Any contribution from Burroughs would have been bonus. Well, now it looks like there will not be any bonus. The team has 10 days to trade, release or ask for waivers for Burroughs. He began the season with the Rays and batted .190 with no home runs and 1 RBI in 8 games. At Durham, he was not much better, hitting .221 with only 2 extra-base hits in 31 games. Even more telling for a player that is supposed to be a contact hitter was his 23 to 5 strikeout to walk ratio for the Bulls.

The Rays needed to make room for Jon Switzer on the 40-man roster, proving that manager Joe Maddon is not afraid to have a left-hander in the bullpen. Switzer has some major league experience having pitched in 5 games for the Rays in 2003 and 2 games last season. This season Switzer may have turned the corner as he has been dominating for the AAA Durham Bulls. In 31 innings, he has an ERA of 0.87.

Notes: Switzer get call to majors []


How Sweep It Is
Devil Rays 4, Diamondbacks 1. Scott Kazmir was overpowering as the Devil Rays completed a 3-game sweep of Arizona. Tampa has now won 5 of their last 6 and 8 of 12. Kazmir worked into the 8th inning giving up only 3 hits, 2 walks and 1 run. Kid K struck out 8, and appears to have righted the ship after a shaky stretch of starts. He was lifted with 2 outs in the 8th and Shawn Camp and Brian Meadows finished the game. It was Meadows 2nd save in as many games since Tyler Walker went on the DL. Aubrey Huff homered and had 3 hits and appears to beginning his usual mid-season surge. Jorge Cantu also collected 3 hits.

We hate to get to far ahead of ourselves, but the Rays have a great opportunity to make a little run towards .500 over the next week or two. Up next is a 3-game set at the Trop against the Braves who have lost 9 straight. That is followed by a series in Miami against the Marlins and a set in D.C. against the Nats. The Nationals have lost 8 of their last 10, heading into Thursday's action. Tampa needs to do well in these next nine games as they finish the first half at home with 6 games against the Red Sox and the Spankees.


Has The Curse Of Lamar-Naimoli Been Lifted?

Rocco is back and looks good...Jorge, Huff and Lugo also. And now we are happy to report that former first round pick Jeff Niemann is back and his first start was encouraging. On Monday night, Niemann made his 2006 debut for the AA Montgomery Biscuits. Niemann went 4.1 innings in the Biscuits 1-0 loss to Jacksonville. He allowed 4 hits, 1 walk and 1 run. He struck out 8. Working into the 5th inning (67 pitches) is encouraging for a pitcher that hasn't pitched in nearly a year and only had 30.2 innings pitched as a professional going into this season. His 8 strikeouts in 4+ innings is also very encouraging, and indicates that he hasn't lost very much off his fastball. He regularly hit 90 mph and topped out at 93. Before the injury, Niemann was considered to be on the fast track to the majors. Obviously the injury has changed that, but it was not a serious shoulder injury and his age and college experience should have him in a Devil Rays uniform sooner rather than later.

Speaking of D-Rays that could be on the fast track. This year's first round pick Evan Longoria, followed up his 1-5 opening night performance with a very impressive 5-6 last night.


Kazmir, Hendrickson, Shields And Pray For A Power Outage At The Trop

Devil Rays 3, Arizona 2. All of the sudden the Rays have won four out of five. For the first time in franchise history, the team has three starters that they can send out to the mound and as fans we feel the team has a good chance to win. Scott Kazmir, Mark Hendrickson and surprise rookie James Shields. Shields continues his impressive run to start his big league career by winning his fourth straight start to improve to 4-0 on the season. On Wednesday night, Shields worked seven innings, allowing 4 hits, 3 walks and 2 runs. He struck out 5. His ERA is an impressive 3.00 through his first five major league starts. If there was any wonder as to the permanancy of his place in the Rays' rotation, he has all but eliminated those doubts. We still have no confidence in anyone the team can send out there in the other two spots. Casey Fossum is not a big league starter. We will see how effective Tim Corcoran can be when he makes his second major league start and first of 2006 on Saturday, but we have our doubts. Kid K has shown signs of being a future ace. Hendrickson and Shields should both be solid middle of the rotation guys who can go out there every five days and give the team a good chance to win. What the team still needs is one more front of the rotation starter and hope that someone else can fill the role of the fifth starter and be effective. Will the team open the pure strings and find that #2 or #3 starter this off-season? Probably not. The team is still a year or two away for that. And the fact remains, there are still many holes in the bullpen that need to be filled. Hopefully Seth McClung and Edwin Jackson can develop into solid major league relievers with one of them becoming the closer of the future. We still believe that Tyler Walker is better suited in the 8th inning and would love to see McClung or Jackson develop into a closer. And then there is the continuing domination of Juan Salas in the minor leagues. Salas, who hadn't allowed an earned run in AA Montgomery has continued to dominate since his promotion to Durham and looks like he will be seen in a Devil Rays uniform in the very near future. As for the offense...Things are starting to come around, and it can't be overlooked that it has coincided with the return of Rocco Baldelli, who looks like he was never gone. In fact he looks as good as ever. Even more surprising is that Rocco looks like he hasn't lost very much speed. We don't expect to see him stealing bases anytime soon, but he has made more than one routine groundball a lot closer than it should have been at first base.

Tampa improved to 31-41 and are now 1.5 games behind Baltimore and 12 games behind Boston in the AL East. Kid K will take the mound tonight as the Rays go for the sweep against the D-Backs...And for the third night in a row, we fell the team has a very good chance to win even before the game starts. That is a good feeling to have.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Evan Longoria Debuts For Hudson Valley

The Devil Rays first round draft pick, Evan Longoria, made his professional debut last night for the low-A Hudson Valley Renegades. Longoria wore the number 34, played 3B and batted 3rd. He went 1-5 with an RBI on a first inning sacrifice fly.



The Problem With Interleague Play
We understand the allure of interleague games. We are fans of it. We love Yankees-Mets. We love Angels-Dodgers and Cubs-White Sox. We love Devil Rays-Marlins and we really loved Devil Rays-Phillies. But for every Yankees-Mets series there are three or four Devil Rays-Diamondbacks series. We do understand the reasoning behind the matchup. The two franchises will forever be linked as the last two expansion teams. For a while at least, they will be measured against each other. The Diamondbacks have a championship already. The Devil Rays have finished last in all but one season. And while we understand the reasoning for the matchup, there is no allure to this series. This was never more evident than the number of stories we have read about a potential "homecoming" for Luis Gonzalez next season when he is likely to be a free agent. The Diamondbacks have a $10 million dollar option on Gonzo next season which they are not likely to exercise. Reporters, desperate for an angle to this series, repeatedly asked Gonzo about returning to Tampa Bay to end his career. While a move like that may make sense for Gonzalez, it makes absolutely no sense for the Devil Rays. Gonzalez will be 39 next season and is clearly a shadow of his former self. And we don't even mean a shadow of the 2001 Gonzalez when he hit 57 home runs, the only season he has ever hit more than 31. We mean a shadow of the normal Gonzo, who hits .265 and 25 home runs. The Rays already have a logjam of outfielders and will not be in the market for an over-the-hill player used to making a lot of money. Unless Gonzo is will to accept a role as a pinch-hitter making little more than the veteran minimum, there is little chance he will be wearing a Devil Rays uniform in 2007.

Gonzo is open to joining Devil Rays [Arizona Republic]
Gonzo forced to address 'whispers' in homecoming []


Musical Chairs: Gathright And McClung First Without Chairs
In a pair of moves yesterday, Rays' fans got a glimpse of the pitching staff of the future. In the first move, Seth McClung was sent to the minors and replaced by Edwin Jackson. McClung was 2-10 in 15 starts, leading the league in losses and clearly losing favor with manager Joe Maddon and the front office. Maddon has made it clear that he wants McClung to pitch out of the bullpen but gave him every chance to prove he could be a major league starting pitcher. Now McClung will go to Durham and work out of the bullpen and try to return to the big league club in his new role. Jackson made one start earlier this season for the Devil Rays, picking up a no decision against the Rangers, in 7 innings. We have been pretty hard on Jackson since he was sent back to Durham as he has been roughed up in his last 7 or 8 starts. It turns out that Jackson was working on some mechanical issues including a new release point. Still, we have seen no indication that he has worked out these mechanical flaws. In his last start he did work into the 7th inning, but gave up 6 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits and 1 walk. He struck out 5. The only promising sign in the linescore is the 1 walk. That is a marked improvement from his previous starts. On the season, he has averaged 4.5 walks per nine innings in Durham. Still, we applaud the move as Jackson can't be any worse than McClung has been and has a bigger upside, and now it looks like he will work on those flaws in the Tampa bullpen. In fact Tim Corcoran will take McClung's spot in the rotation for the time being, with his first start penciled for Saturday in Atlanta. Corcoran has made one big league start. He pitched the season finale last year against Baltimore going 4+ innings picking up a no-decision.

In a separate move, the team dealt Joey Gathright and infielder Fernando Cortez to the Kansas City Royals for starting pitcher J. P. Howell. Gathright has proven to be the poster child for the old cliche, "you can't steal first base". In 55 games with the Rays, Gathright batted .201 with 12 stolen bases. He did have a 30 to 20 strikeout to walk ratio, which is decent for a potential leadoff hitter. However, his OBP was only .305 and that just doesn't get it done. Howell, 23, is a left handed pitcher that was 3-2 with a 4.75 ERA in 8 starts for AAA Omaha. We have to be a bit skeptical about a pitcher that couldn't even crack the starting rotation for the worst team in baseball even though he was a member of that rotation last season. He was a first round selection (#31) of the Royals in the 2004 entry draft. It appears as though Kansas City rushed him to the big leagues as Howell moved from single-A to the majors in his first full season of professional baseball. Last season he made 15 starts for the Royals going 3-5 with a 6.19 ERA. Fernando Cortez was batting .222 with no home runs and 8 stolen bases.

Devil Rays trade Gathright for Howell []
Rays send McClung to minors [Bradenton Herald]
Corcoran to make surprise start []


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Prodigal Son Returns And Still Hasn't Grown Up

Baseball's top prospect, Delmon Young, returned to the field last night after serving a 50-game suspension for throwing a bat at an umpire. In a slight bit of irony, Young was actually able to return one game early as the Durham Bulls concluded a previously rain-suspended game on Monday afternoon. In that game Young appeared and singled in his only at bat (does that mean his suspension was only 49 games?). In the regularly scheduled game, Young was in his usual right field position and his usual #3 spot in the lineup. He went 1-4 with a strikeout. His single in the 3rd inning drove in a run that tied the game 1-1.

Young did meet with reporters before the game a sat down for a one-on-one interview with Bulls broadcaster Neil Solondz, that can be seen over at One problem with fans projecting minor league players and their future success is that 99% of what we know about them comes from box scores. This interview was one of the first times we had ever heard Young talk. We stood behind Young after the incident, but this interview changes our perception a bit.

One thing that comes across is just how young he still is. He just doesn't have that composure that you see during interviews with major league players. In the second question from Solondz, Young was asked how difficult the suspension was for him. Young does not even answer. He just shakes his head and rolls his hand as if to indicate to move on to the next question. The next question asked if Young learned anything from the suspension. Young responds by saying "That's the same question" and again rolls his hand to indicate to Solondz to move on to the next question.

During the interview you can see that he is nervous and very fidgety. He rarely makes eye contact with Solondz during the interview, constantly looking down or looking out to the field. Later on, Young was asked about his relationship with the manager and coaches and Young responds that he "keeps his distance" from the coaches. He also indicates that he has not spoken to the manager or coaches since the incident because he doesn't need to "socialize on past events". So far we are only about three minutes into the interview with seven minutes remaining, and we are already souring on Delmon Young very quickly.

Finally at the end of the interview, Solondz thanks Delmon for sitting down with him, and best we can tell Young does not respond at all, except to take off his mic and walk away. Solondz then can be seen looking towards his producers with a shrug of his shoulders and a very telling look on his face, that seems to display a bit of anger or annoyance.

According to reports, Young's attitude was much the same when he
met with reporters on the field. He snapped at several reporters for asking questions they shouldn't ask and even for brushing his leg with a microphone chord. If there was any question before seeing this interview, there shouldn't be any now for Andrew Friedman and the rest of the Devil Rays front office or the fans...Delmon Young is not ready for the big leagues. We had hoped all along to see Delmon this fall in Tampa with a shot at making the team next Spring. That plan now looks to be at least a year away.

Delmon Young interview []
After Ban, a Prospect Is Hoping to Move On [New York Times]


Monday, June 19, 2006

Elijah Dukes Has Been Suspended By Devil Rays...Again
If the Devil Rays needed a reason not to trade Carl Crawford, recent issues with some of their top prospects will definitely make them think twice before moving their best hitter to another organization. Not to be outdone by Delmon Young and B. J. Upton, Devil Rays outfield prospect Elijah Dukes has been suspended by the organization. Dukes, who is no stranger to suspensions has been dismissed from the team indefinitely. Devil Rays' management have not commented yet on the reason for this suspension. Earlier this season, the team had announced that Dukes had left the team for "personal reasons". It now appears that Dukes was actually suspended for a verbal confrontation with a coach. Last season in Montgomery, Dukes was suspended on two occasions by the Southern League due to on field confrontations with umpires. In 2004, he was suspended by the organization for a month due to a run in with a coach.

Dukes, appeared to be making significant strides this season, in an effort to have his name included among the Devil Rays' top prospects. Considered by many as the best athlete in the organization, Dukes is a true 5-tool prospect who was putting up impressive numbers at Durham. Before he was suspended, Dukes was hitting .295 with 8 home runs and 41 RBI, with a .914 OPS. With this latest suspension, one will have to wonder how much longer the team will consider Dukes as part of this organization's future. Suddenly, with the recent problems of Young and Dukes, the offensive struggles of Joey Gathright, and the defensive struggles of Upton, Wes Bankston and Reid Brignac, the team's future is looking a bit cloudier.

Devil Rays suspend outfielder Dukes [Montgomery Advertiser]


That Felt Good
We must admit we were a bit surprised this weekend. When we saw that the Rays were heading to Philadelphia for the next round of interleague play, we actually dreaded the thought. We have such a strong distaste for anything Philadelphia, that the thought of having to watch three games against the Glue Sticks made us a bit nauseous. But then Friday came and James Shields was on the mound, and we knew Kid K was pitching on Saturday. Then we started to reminisce about the 2002 NFC Championship Game, and opening night of the 2002 season and the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals, and we started to get downright giddy. The boys didn't disappoint. On Friday Shields won a duel against the Dr. Phils' top pitching prospect Cole Hammels as the Rays won 10-4. Julio Lugo provided a good chunk of the offense with his 6th and 7th home runs of the season. Carl Crawford and Damon Hollins each added 4 hits. The win was Shield's third straight. He struck out 6 and walked 1 in 6 innings of work. On Saturday night, Scott Kazmir won his first start nearly a month as the Rays took the second game 7-2. Kid K still was not at the top of his game as his pitch count was high and he was only able to work 5 innings. At the top of his game in May, Kazmir was much more judicious with his pitches and was able to work deeper into ballgames. On Saturday, Kazmir struck out 9 in his 5 innings but he also walked 3 before being pulled in favor of the bullpen. At the plate, Rocco Baldelli, continues his strong return with his 1st home run of the season. Crawford and Jorge Cantu also added home runs. On Sunday...well, C. C. hit his 10th home run of the season and Seth McClung made sure we didn't get too giddy with a sweep by losing his 10th game of the season.


B. J. Upton Arrested For Being An Idiot

Another of the Devil Rays top prospects has run in to trouble in the minors. B. J. "Don't Call Me Melvin" Upton, was arrested last Friday for DWI in Durham, NC. With Delmon Young set to return from his 50 game suspension tonight, Upton removed that good feeling by committing his worst error of the season, and this comes from a guy that knows a thing or two about errors. Maybe Melvin would become a better fielder if he practiced with empty beer cans. Upton was not in the lineup Friday night, but returned on Saturday and went 1-4. Then on Sunday, he let everyone know that things were back to normal by committing 2 errors in the Bulls' 6-4 victory over Charlotte.

There had been reports earlier this season that Upton had openly berated Young after his bat-tossing incident. Apparently Upton made it clear that Young let down his Bulls teammates and was hurting his chances of being promoted to the parent club anytime soon. Let us hope that somebody on the team will return the favor to B. J.

Upton arrested on DWI. [Durham Herald-Sun]



Friday, June 16, 2006

Devil Rays @ Philadelphia Glue Sticks Tidbits
  • Sunday January 19, 2003. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27, Philadelphia Pheagles 10. Bucs are NFC champions. Bucs go on to win Super Bowl.
  • May 22, 2004. Tampa Bay Lightning 2, Philadelphia Phlyers 1. Lightning are Eastern Conference champions. Lightning go on to win Stanley Cup.
  • 'Nuf said.


Carl Crawford, You Just Lost 3 of 4 to the Detroit Tigers...What Are You Going To Do?

Go to Disney Land? We must admit, our first reaction to hearing rumors of C. C. being traded was to send Andrew Friedman to his room wihout dessert. With so many talented outfielders in the organization, why trade the one that is arguably the best of the bunch? Well, once we let out a good cry, blew our nose and put the bottle of liquor down, we thought about it some more. Maybe, just maybe, Crawford is the most logical player to trade.

First, let's look at it from the point of view of the teams looking to acquire C. C. Which teams are going to offer the best prospects? Teams that are in playoff contention. Those teams are not looking for a Delmon Young or an Elijah Dukes or a Joey Gathright. Those players are young and unproven at the Major League level. A team making a push for the playoffs needs a bat to fill a hole now, not to fill a hole next season. Rocco Baldelli? Too many question marks with Rocco still. Will he be able to hold up physically, playing everyday? Will he ever regain the speed he had before his injuries? Jonny Gomes? An injured shoulder means he is limited to DH duties.

Now let's look at it from the Devil Rays' point of view. If the team wants to win, it needs pitching, both starters and relievers. All the offense in the world will never make a team a playoff contender if the pitchers can't get anybody out. So what are the team's most valuable chips. There is an obvious surplus of outfielders. So which one? Delmon Young? His stock couldn't be lower right now. Elijah Dukes? A troubled past with tons of potential, means he is more valuable to the Rays than to another organization. Rocco Baldelli? Maybe. He has a payroll friendly contract, but as we stated before, there are too many question marks. Besides, when healthy, and productive, he is probably the most popular Devil Ray. Another extremely popular D-Ray is Jonny Gomes, but the team knows his stock is diminished with his current injury, and there is little to show that he is a capable outfielder even when healthy. That leaves Crawford. He has a payroll friendly contract. He is a proven major leaguer, with plenty of speed and the potential to develop into a 30-30 player. Sounds like the ideal player. Great speed...potential power...could hit .330...still young...signed through 2010...Sounds perfect. So why would a team want to trade Carl Crawford? They wouldn't. So that led us to believe that these rumors were just rumors.

But...then we dug a little deeper. There are rumors of Crawford to the Angels for Ervin Santana. There are also rumors of Crawford to the Rockies. Where are the rumors coming from? To figure that out, you need to know who benefits most from the rumors. The only logical place is that they are being leaked by the Devil Rays' front office. Why? Because the same reasons a team wouldn't trade a player like Carl Crawford is exactly the same reason a team would want a player like Carl Crawford. And if there is a market for Carl Crawford (there is) the way to get the best deal is to turn the situation into a bidding war. C. C. is the sort of player that teams will fight over and fight for.

Crawford is the one player that can command a steep price. In fact, Crawford is the one player that teams may potentially overpay for. Would we hate to see C. C. go? Of course. But we also know that pitching is the key and and there aren't a whole lot of keys in the Devil Rays' organization.

  • Crawford could be the next Angel in the outfield. [Sporting News]



Devil Rays News And Notes
  • Of all the Rays' injuries this season (The Curse of LaMar-Naimoli), one that hasn't been mentioned much is the shoulder injury suffered by Jonny Gomes. That will change this weekend when the D-Rays travel to Philadelphia to face the Glue Sticks. Without the DH, Gomes would have to play the outfield and that appears unlikely in his current state. According to manager Joe Maddon, he is unable to throw more than a few times without great pain. In the end, one of the team's best hitters will only be available for pinch-hitting duty. What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? First and foremost, it means that we need to rethink our position on the DH. Life without the DH this season would be much less Jonny-terrific, and for the first time, we will swallow our pride and admit that maybe the DH is a good thing. (that was painful...and by painful, we mean like watching a Keanu Reeves movie) []
  • On Monday, recently demoted Doug Waechter made his first start for the Durham Bulls. He was effective, if not overpowering. He picked up the win, working 6 innings, allowing 7 hits, 2 walks and 2 runs. He struck out 1. []
  • Chad Orvella who was also demoted recently from the Rays bullpen down to Durham has pitched twice for the Bulls. Orvella has pitched 3 innings, surrendering 2 hits and 1 walk. He has struck out 5 and allowed 3 unearned runs. Let's hope Orvella finds the confidence he needs to compete at the big league level.
  • Juan Salas was recently promoted from AA Montgomery to AAA Durham. Quite frankly, we are wondering if Salas is not the best reliever in the entire organization right now. And we don't just mean in the minors. At Montgomery, Salas appeared in 23 games. He pitched 34.2 innings, giving up only 13 hits and 14 walks. He struck out 52 and allowed only 4 unearned runs. That's is not a typo. He did not yield a single earned run all season. So how did he fair in his debut for Durham? 'Bout the same. On Thursday night, he went 1.1 innings, allowing no hits and one walk. He struck out 3. Salas who was originally, an infielder for the Devil Rays has only been pitching for the organization since late 2004. In his first full season as a pitcher in 2005, he posted strong numbers for Visalia and Montgomery. We are not sure if Salas is still working on something, but if he is, the team better stop. He can't pitch any better and it might be time for Salas to be working the 8th innings at the Trop. Of course, with Tyler Walker on the DL, is there a worse option than Salas to be closing games? [Montgomery Advertiser]
  • Surprise, surprise. Jeff Neimann's scheduled start tomorrow in Montgomery has been pushed back to Monday or Tuesday. We knew that had to have been written in pencil. [Montgomery Adveriser]
  • Speaking of Monday, we expect and hope to see Delmon Young back on the field for the Bulls when his 50-game suspension ends. That did seem a bit quick, but let's hope it took an eternity for Young. [Our Sports Central]


Monday, June 12, 2006

Devil Rays News And Notes
  • First round pick Evan Longoria will not start with the single-A Visalia Oaks as originally reported. Rather, he will play one or two weeks with the short season Hudson Valley Renegades, beginning June 20th. During that period, the Oaks have 5 days off for the California League All-Star game. After 8-10 games with Hudson Valley, he will then report to Visalia the first week of July and play third base, and will surely be subjected to numerous Eva Longoria pranks from his new teammates. []
  • Another first round pick of the Devil Rays, Jeff Niemann, finally has a date to return to the mound. He is scheduled to start this Saturday, June 17th for the AA Montgomery Biscuits. We have to believe that if something was ever written in pencil this is it. Much like the extended absence of Rocco Baldelli, Niemann has been gone so long, we find it hard to recall if we should be excited about this. [TalkAlabama]
  • We already knew that Rocco Baldelli was gone too long, but now we know he was gone too long. [TampaBays10]
  • Apparently one oddsmaker in Vegas has cost his clients some money this season by picking the Devil Rays too often. Of course it is all Joe Maddon's fault. [Sportsmemo]
  • A decision on the future of Josh Hamilton should be made later this week, when extended spring training ends for the Devil Rays. At this point, Hamilton has not been fully reinstated and does not have permission from the Major League Baseball to return to the field and play in games. However, we have to think that playing in games is the next logical step and that the league intends on granting Josh at least some more leeway. The logical choice is to let Hamilton play for the short-season Hudson Valley Renegades without any possibility of been promoted this season. At the end of the season, if Hamilton is able to stay clean, look for the league to grant him full reinstatement and for Josh to begin next season with AA Montgomery. []
  • Speaking of Hamilton, apparently he hasn't forgotten how to hit during batting practice. []
  • Jonny Gomes has a solution to the depth of outfielders in the Devil Rays' organization. Just play four outfielders. "Imagine an outfield with C.C., Rocco, and him (Josh Hamilton) and me." Of course, it also appears as though Gomes has already written off Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes because of their troubled pasts. []
  • Apparently the Tampa Bay area was recently named the worst sports market in the country according to the Sporting News. Not sure how that can be when the season ticket waiting list for the Buccaneers could fill two more stadiums. There is also some spooky similarities in the early years of all three professional franchises from Tampa. [St. Pete Times]
  • B. J. Upton continues to beg the team to move him to a new position. On Saturday, Upton committed 3 one inning. He now has 23 errors in 62 games and we think the might be genuinely afraid of the ball. It is hard for us to say exactly what we would like see happen. Obviously, we would like to see Upton play shortstop in the Trop, but that might not be feasible at this point. We always hear people mention that Derek Jeter committed 50+ errors one year in the minors. Of course, the difference for Jeter was that it was his first season of professional ball, not his fourth. Upton is well on his way to 50+ errors this season and there is no sign that he is improving at all. So what should the team do with Upton? Move him to the outfield? The outfield is already loaded with talented players and prospects. On the other hand, his little brother, Justin has made a nice transition to center field in his first season of professional ball and that could be an influence on B. J.. Move him to third base? Upton's biggest problems have been his throws. Is there any reason to believe that the problem would be corrected with a move to third? We must admit, we don't see a solution here, so we continue to hope that he keeps working and at some point he makes a breakthrough, and we hope it is soon. [Durham Bulls]