Tampa Bay Rays (9 days until pitchers and catchers report)
Today is Hank Aaron’s birthday. Major League Baseball tried to honor Aaron by naming an award after him, when in fact the award does nothing to honor his legacy. We have made our feelings known about the Hank Aaron Award in the past, but in short it is a glorified advertising opportunity for MLB to make money off of Hank Aaron’s name, and the award needs to be overhauled or it will never have any legitimacy.

DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA

  • If you have not had a chance to vote in our “Tampa Bay Rays Confidence” polls, please do so. This will become a weekly feature and the resulting graph will makes it debut tomorrow. [Rays Index]
  • Willy Aybar has been jailed in the Dominican Republic on charges of domestic violence. He has been held without bail since last week. We will have more on this topic later on this morning. [ESPN]
  • Rays of Light reports that Rocco Baldelli stated in a radio interview that he has been working out at first base in the off-season. Do the Rays think this will actually help? We are talking about a guy who once needed Tommy John surgery after injuring his knee. Rocco could pull a hamstring just thinking about running. [Rays of Light]
  • Tom Singer believes the Rays are one team that could surprise in 2008, comparing them to the 1969 Mets. [MLB]

The rest of the AL East is concerned. In fact, Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi has frankly branded the Rays a team “no one will want to face.”…But why stop at .500 — the Rays haven’t been closer than 11 games to that — as a major surprise? We keep looking at Tampa Bay’s new uniforms and seeing “Mets” scrawled across the chest…The Amazin’s averaged 56 wins in their first seven seasons, then broke loose for a World Series title in the eighth. And they did so without any major roster additions; a young team simply grew into it.

  • The Rays have planned a series of appearances in neighboring counties with players and staff, in their effort to expand the team’s fan base. [TampaBay.com]
  • Edwin Jackson is one of several major leaguers working to bring baseball back to young African-Americans. We wish we had not read that. Last thing in the world we need is a soft-spot for Nuke. [MLB]

“In the black schools, football and basketball are getting more attention than baseball,” Jackson said. “We need to expose it within the community, talk about it more. It starts in the household, where most parents are talking about basketball and football to their young black children.”

  • One website names the best and worst moves of the off-season for each team. Signing Troy Percival to a two-year contract is rated as the Rays worst move. [SWB Yankees Blog]
  • One fantasy baseball site compares BJ Upton to Alex Rios. [The Fantasy Man]
  • The Rays will be offering free skin cancer screenings throughout March at various spring training facilities. We will avoid the obvious joke of a team that plays in a dome offering skin cancer screening. [DevilRays.com]
  • The Gaston Gazette profiles Chris Mason. [Gaston Gazette]
  • One protester is creating a Manatee named “Pete” made of duct tape to help bring awareness to the plight of the Manatees and to dredge up support for the opposition of the Rays new stadium…seriously [Tampa Bays 10]
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