We vaguely remember that there was an incident involving Delmon Young earlier this season when he was playing in Durham. It seems that with every at bat, our ability to recall that visual becomes harder and harder. Young has been as advertised…Even better than we thought he would be. We have to keep reminding ourselves that this kid is still only 20 years old. This past weekend, the Rays dropped two of three to the west-leading A’s, but with Delmon Young in the lineup, the losses are a bit more tolerable and the team is more fun to watch. Over the weekend, Mr. Young went 6-14 with a double, a triple, 2 RBI and scored 4 runs. For good measure, on Saturday, he even drew his first major league walk. In his first 12 games, Delmon is now hitting .408 (20-49) with 7 extra-base hits, 10 runs and 8 RBI. When Delmon was first brought up two weeks ago, the belief was that he was auditioning for a role as the starting right fielder for the Rays in 2007. As he is only 20, and because his minor league strike out to walk ratio was so terrible, there was a very real possibility that major league pitchers would find a whole in his swing early and that he would need to at least being next season in Durham. The team has been impressed by his play and now it is beginning to look as if Delmon Young has played his last game in a Durham Bulls uniform. Yes the pitching is still a big concern and the team needs to find a first baseman that can hit consistently in the off-season, but it can’t be a coincidence that the Rays offense has come alive in the past two weeks and with Delmon Young hitting in the 2-spot, the offense has been even better. If you take out the back-to-back games against the Orioles in which the Rays scored 27 runs and the one game against the Yankees when they scored 19, the Rays had played 39 games since the All-Star break before Delmon Young was promoted. In those 39 games, the team averaged just a little more than 3 runs per game (3.3). In the 12 games since his arrival, the team has averaged just under 5 runs per game (4.75) and it is even better (5.2) if you ignore the game last week against the Twins when Minnesota started
Sandy Koufax Johan Santana. Nobody can score off of Santana right now. The Rays managed only two hits against the likely Cy Young award winner. Who had both of those hits? Delmon Young. Not even the best pitcher in the major leagues, who is in the middle of a ridiculous hot streak can get Delmon out consistently.
- The Devil Rays front office continues to say that Scott Kazmir could return this season, but after his latest incident, we just wish they pull the plug on 2006 and send him home to rest and prepare for ’07. There is no benefit to bringing Kid K back this season.
- Casey Fossum had his season-ending surgery and considering it cost him $800,000 in ’07 (less than 30 starts in ’06) he is feeling pretty good about it. Our favorite quote in this story? “You look at my record — 6-6, you know — I feel like I kept the team in all but four games that I went out there,” Fossum said. “Your job as a starting pitcher is to keep the team in the game. You could take away a couple of my starts when my arm didn’t feel good, and a couple of 1 2/3-innings starts; other than that, that puts me at a pretty good year.” In other words, if you ignore all of his shitty starts he had a good year. Can you believe this guy used to throw in the mid-90s?
- So then what will the 2007 starting rotation look like? Fossum should be healthy, but will need to show that he can still be effective. At this point, it looks like Scott Kazmir, James Shields and Jae Seo are the only pitchers that are guaranteed spots. Tim Corcoran continues to impress, but would he be more valuable as a long reliever and emergency starter?
- In fact, The Rays front office now says they are willing to add significantly to the payroll in ’07, but only if doing so will significantly improve the team. Andrew Friedman says that the areas they may address in the off-season are the infield and starting rotation. With the recent boom in salaries for starting pitchers, we find it hard to believe that the Rays are ready to enter that marketplace. However, they are some potential bargains.
- Want to know who some of the relief pitching options are? Look here for middle relievers that are due to be free agents.
- Now that the minor league seasons are (almost) over, the shake-ups at the lower levels has already begun. A number of scouts have been let go. And in a move that was not surprising (although the extent might be) the Rays have decided not to bring back anybody from the Durham Bulls’ coaching staff.
- Then again, the shake up has been going on all season at the major league level. The Rays end their relationship with the Travesty that was Travis Lee. Apparently he is puzzled by the release. Hey Travis, maybe it is because you are the worst hitting first baseman in baseball.
- We would be remiss if we didn’t at least mention the play of Rocco Baldelli. We would love to eat crow over our post from last week in which we questioned his place on the team. He has picked up his play in the last few weeks and has been a spark plug since be inserted at the top of the order. Still, until we see him play an entire season injury-free we will continue to be skeptical.