The Devil Rays open the second half with a four-game set against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. In baseball, momentum is only as good tomorrow’s starting pitcher which doesn’t usually bode too well for the Rays, but this series is huge for both Tampa Bay and New York. The Yankees need to get off to a good start with three or four wins against a last place ball club if they have any hopes of making a playoff run this season. On the other hand, the Rays, losers of 13 of 14 before the break need to two or three wins in this series to gain any confidence for success in the second half.
Losing this series would be a demoralizing blow to the young club and could make the second half of the season irrelevant to Devil Rays fans, or at least until Jeff Niemann and Evan Longoria make their major league debuts. In the meantime we will be forced to unveil our Tampa Bay Devil Rays Drinking Game as a way of coping with another 100-loss season, which will be followed shortly thereafter by a second half full of The Justin Smoak Sweepstakes posts and soiled underwear.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- If the Devil Rays finish with the worst record in baseball (again), they will once again make history for all the wrong reasons. The Rays would become the first team in major league history to have the top pick in the amateur draft two consecutive years. Until recently, the top pick alternated between the AL and the NL. The top pick is now “awarded” to the team with the worst overall record regardless of league affiliation. It will also mark the fourth time the Devil Rays would pick #1 overall, leaving them one shy of the Padres and the Mets for most top selections in the history of the draft.
- Was the home run in the All-Star game Carl Crawford’s “coming-out party”? Personally, we would have rather seen Crawford hit one of his trademark triples and steal second and third after a single. Only then would the rest of baseball have seen the C.C. that we have grown up with…On a side note, is anybody else annoyed by the idea that Crawford’s home run may have helped the Red Sox win the world series this year by giving the AL home field advantage? It has been two days and we still can’t truly enjoy Crawford’s home run. Thanks Fox and Bud Selig. Next time why don’t you just take a dump in our Wheaties. [tbo.com]
- JP Howell was optioned to AAA Durham but will be back for his next scheduled start. Joe Maddon decided to skip Howell the first time through the rotation with the off-day on Monday. Rather than use Howell out of the bullpen, he will make a spot-start for the Bulls. We assume that BJ Upton will take Howell’s spot on the roster. Of course, Maddon may decide to ad an extra arm to the bullpen for the first week of the second half in which case somebody else will need to be demoted. [St. Pete Times]
- David Price had a chat session yesterday at Baseball America. Among the topics that Price covers is modeling his game after Dontrelle Willis, and the adjustments he needs to make in order to jump from AA to the Majors. We may be reading too much into the last quote, but it does seem likely that Price will make a few low-A starts this season (when signed) and will begin the 2008 campaign at AA Montgomery. [Baseball America]
- The bullpen is what it is, and they could get a lot of help of if the rest of the rotation can take James Shields’ lead and work later into games. [DevilRays.com]
- Bill Chastain hands in his midterm report, naming James Shields the first half MVP. [DevilRays.com]
- Delmon Young is not worried about his numbers, but he is quietly building a rookie-of-the-year resume. [Florida Times-Union]
- Kevin brings us “The ‘Top’ 10 Moments in Devil Rays History”. It is demoralizing to think that someone thinks that new uniforms and winning 70 games are two of the top 10 moments in the history of a franchise. It is a kick to the groin when we realize that he is probably right. [MySpace]