Tampa Bay Rays (1 day until pitchers and catchers report)

It is what he wanted.

It is what we wanted.

It is not necessarily what the front office wanted.

But now it looks like Evan Longoria will get the opportunity to prove in Spring Training that he belongs in the majors.

And a chance is all the Dirtbag needs. It won’t take much to convince Joe Maddon. And we have a feeling that if Papa Joe can be convinced, it won’t take much to convince Andrew Friedman.

Longoria will not have to hit .400 in Spring Training and he will not have to hit 10 home runs. In fact, we have a feeling that as long as he does not fall flat on his face, he will be named the Rays opening day starter at third base. As much as Papa Joe likes to crunch numbers on his computer, he still loves himself a good ole fashioned baseball player. Evan Longoria is a baseball player. And Maddon will envision that rubbing off on the other players

Maddon is destined to fall in love with the 22 year old. He will see enough in his swing and his glove to know that he is not going to be over-matched at the major league level.

Longoria may struggle at first. But he is too good a hitter to fail. And Papa Joe will see that.

Longoria will get chance to earn spot [Rays Report]

DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA

  • ESPN.com takes a closer look at the “revitalized” Carl Crawford. C.C. speaks about having more energy after learning that he was allergic to dairy and wheat products and the subsequent change in his diet. He has also upped his workout regimen and has dropped his body fat from 12% to 8% since December. He also doesn’t hold back in his portrayal of just how miserable 2007 was for the Rays. [ESPN]

“It’s just going to be about playing baseball again, that’s what I’m really excited about this season,” Crawford said at his offseason home. “With all the B.S. that was going on last year, I think we lost focus on the task at hand.” Crawford refers to the ongoing soap opera that featured Elijah Dukes and Delmon Young. Both of the enormously talented players couldn’t stay out of trouble; Dukes with his off-field issues, and Young with his me-first attitude that resulted in him at first walking out on manager Joe Maddon on the second-to-last day of the 2007 regular season. Crawford calls last season a year “he never wants to remember,” and the distractions, at times, were almost unbearable…”That move, for Garza, spoke volumes,” Crawford said. “For the first time I felt like this organization was serious about winning. That’s the reason why I think everybody is excited because everybody sees that.”

  • Joe Maddon confirmed something that we had expected, that is five of the seven bullpen spots are already spoken for, all but guaranteeing that Gary Glover will be on the opening day roster. That leaves one spot that will go to a “loser” in the battle for the starting rotation and the final spot will be between Juan Salas, Scott Dohmann and Grant Balfour. [The Heater]
  • Shawn Riggans enters Spring Training healthy and understands this may be his last shot at winning a job with the Rays now that John Jaso has been added to the 40-man roster. Marc Topkin refers to Riggans as the “apparent leading candidate for the backup catcher’s job.” This might be a stretch after the recent additions of one veteran catcher in Mike DiFelice and the return of Josh Paul who is familiar with the Rays pitching staff. It is our feeling that if the season started today Paul’s experience and familiarity with the pitching staff will be a better partner to the young Dioner Navarro. [St. Pete Times]
  • Marc Topkin reviews all the changes the Rays have made this off-season. [St. Pete Times]
  • The Columbus Catfish have been sold and plan to relocate to Bolling Green, Kentucky for the 2009 season. [Ledger-Enquirer]
  • Baseball Analysts continues their breakdown of the best baseball players by age. In the age 23 group, BJ Upton comes in at #6, while both Evan Longoria and David Price come in at #5 and #12 respectively. [Baseball Analysts]
  • The Ledger ranks the DHs. The Rays’ three-headed monster of Rocco Baldelli, Cliff Floyd and Jonny Gomes is ranked 7th. [The Ledger]
  • My Baseball Bias previews the Rays’ Spring Training. [My Baseball Bias]
  • Devil Rays Locker gives the Rays front office a B+ for this off-season’s moves. [Devil Rays Locker]
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3 Comments

  1. Robert Rittner says:

    Do you agree that Floyd will probably spend more time in RF than Gomes? Floyd is not an expecially good defensive player either, and given his fragility, I would think that if both are in the lineup Maddon might put Gomes out there. When Baldelli and Floyd both play, he might be more careful to protect Rocco, but if Baldelli is healthy, he is certainly better defensively than either of the other two.

    Are you giving a pass to the silly things "My Baseball Bias" says? Not complaining, just wondering.

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  2. The Professor says:

    No in fact, if Rocco is healthy all year, I cant see Floyd playing more than 10 games in the field. Maddon has made it pretty clear that they want to keep Floyd as healthy as possible and that means most days he will DH.

    Against righties I see Floyd at DH with Rocco and Gomes splitting time in the outfield. against lefties i see Rocco in right and Gomes at DH. depending on Rocco's health i could see that last scenario switching up occasionally to give Rocco's legs a rest.

    I guess we could also take exception to when they say "After Kazmir, the starting rotation takes a significant dip". I guess we have just become too conditioned to outsiders not knowing the team. Most people that dont follow the team closely would probably think that Shields was a fluke last year or may not notice his numbers at all. After all he was never a top prospect. And EVERYBODY knows Kazmir.

    Silly? yes. Worth any consternation? Probably not.

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  3. Robert Rittner says:

    I agree. And I also agree that it is not worth the consternation. It simply struck me that there were 2 or 3 rather silly comments. For example, why is Jackson well-traveled? He has been traded once. (moving back and forth to the minors?) Or this statement "If the Devil Rays (66-96) can move up to fourth or higher, their young players need to perform even better. It won’t hurt to have good fortune on their side." which is something like a tautology akin to saying that the key to winning is scoring more runs. Or that Gomes is a difficult out. Or the statement with no explanation that Navarro calls a good game.

    I would not comment on them ordinarily, but I was surprised, albeit glad, you didn't either.

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