Tampa Bay Rays (45 days until Opening Day)
Lots ‘o Links today, so let’s get to ‘em…
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- The Tampa Tribune does not see many positions open for the Rays heading into Spring Training. By their count, there are two spots in the rotation, two in the bullpen, one at catcher and 1-2 at third base/utility infielder. We still find it perplexing that some see Shawn Riggans “as the presumptive favorite” to win the backup catchers job. Joe Maddon spoke several times this off-season about having a veteran presence at that position to assist in the maturation of Dioner Navarro, and we don’t think Riggans’ seven years in the minor leagues is what they meant by “experienced”. [Tampa Tribune]
- Jayson Stark says the “Rise of the Rays” is one of the top ten stories of Spring Training. He also refers to the Rays as one of the three most-improved teams in the AL. [ESPN]
Is The Team Formerly Known as the Devil Rays ready to slap around the Yankees or Red Sox (or even the underrated Blue Jays)? Nah. Not yet. But the Rays have added Matt Garza to the rotation and depth to the bullpen. Third base stud Evan Longoria might be the most buzzed-about phenom in baseball. And three of the best pitching prospects on earth (David Price, Jake McGee, Wade Davis) are just over the horizon. Here’s how promising this team is: One AL executive actually predicts the Rays won’t even pick in the first 10 picks of the draft. Pass the smelling salts!
- The Bradenton Herald calls the 2008 Rays the “most talented roster in its history” and notes what a difference a year makes. [Bradenton Herald]
At this time last February, Joe Maddon was looking for a first baseman. And a second baseman. And a shortstop.
“And a bullpen,” Maddon said. “I had no idea who would be in the bullpen.”
The Tampa Bay Rays manager openly dreamed of the day when the team would begin camp with just a few needs. That’s a sign of progress, Maddon would say. A sign a developing team is ready to make the leap toward one that is ready to compete.
- The Tampa Bay Rays charitable foundation has formed three new grant programs to assist Tampa Bay area children. As a team policy, all players that sign multi-year contracts donate a portion of their contracts to the Rays Baseball Foundation. This season, over $1 million will be contributed by the players. [Bradenton Herald]
- This is really old news that is just now becoming official: The Rays will play the Blue Jays at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex for three games, April 22-24. [Rays Report]
- In the latest in the series “A Tale of Two Eric’s” Rays Anatomy takes on BJ Upton, and what we can expect from the young center fielder in 2008. [Rays Anatomy]
- Rays Digest is not happy with the amount of coverage given to the Rays in the St. Pete Times on the first day of Spring Training. [Rays Digest]
- ArmchairGM names the best starting pitcher on each team and calls Scott Kazmir “the clear #1″. They even take a small shot at the Mets. See, we are not the only ones that gain pleasure at the expense of the Mets. [ArmchairGM]
- AOL Fanhouse believes Troy Percival could be the key to the Rays success in 2008. [AOL Fanhouse]