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]