Tampa Bay Rays (46 days until Opening Day)
Today is the first official day of Spring Training as pitchers and catchers are required to report. However, according to Marc Lancaster, this is a mere formality as players have been reporting to the Naimoli Complex, three days a week for weeks now.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, beginning last fall, Rays players have convened for workouts. According to Scott Kazmir, a dozen or so players have been present regularly throughout the winter. In recent weeks, that number has swelled considerably.
James Shields participated in his first full workout at the complex last Wednesday and was stunned by what he saw.
“I swear to God there were 40 guys,” said Shields. “It was amazing. I normally come back a week before spring and I see maybe 10, 12 guys. But it was a full squad out there. It was crazy.”
Of the 35 pitchers and catchers required to report today, 34 will be on time, as only Juan Salas, who is having visa problems will be late.
Lancaster speculates that the level of participation could be a sign of maturity and anticipation.
The level of participation could be interpreted as a sign of maturity among a still-young group, but anticipation of the upcoming season has been a driving force as well. Especially for those who have suffered through one losing campaign after another, there is a sense that this could be the breakthrough season everyone has awaited.
Kinda makes us want to grab a mitt and some spikes and see if James Shields wants to warm up.
Rays Ready For Reporting Day [Tampa Tribune]
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- Evan Longoria welcomes the challenge of winning the third base job in Spring Training. [The Heater]
“That’s basically what I came into spring hoping would happen,” Longoria said. “If they would have made the decision early, obviously if I was in the big leagues that would be good, but I feel like now it just puts a little more added pressure on me, which I like. It’s going to make me work harder.”
- Anaheim Angels All the Way ran a full season simulation using the CHONE projections. The Rays finished the “regular season” at 89-73, just 3 games behind the Yankees and the Red Sox in the AL East. Don’t put too much weight on this projection as it was only run once. Every March Replacement Level Yankees runs a series of simulations. One of the projections used is CHONE. The difference is they will run the projections 1,000 times. Last year, after 1,000 projections the Rays averaged 71.3 wins per simulation. However, at least once the Rays won 93 games. They won the division two times and were the AL Wild Card winner three times. When running simulations like these, anomalies happen. Let’s wait until RLY gets a chance to run the 1,000 simulations and then we will have a better idea what to expect from the 2008 Rays. [Angels All the Way via DRays Bay]
- RaysBB has finished their round-table rundown of the Rays top prospects. 13 people participated and we were the only one that did not have Evan Longoria in the top spot. To us it is really 1a and 1b and since we have little experience actually seeing any of these guys play we consider “value to the organization” as the top criteria and to us winning is always about pitching and the pitcher gets the slight edge. [RaysBB]
- Bill Chastain wraps up his “Around the Horn” series by taking a look at the Rays DHs and Bench. [RaysBaseball.com]
- Refrigerator Logic lists the reasons fans should pay attention to the Rays in 2008. [Refrigerator Logic]
- Outs Per Swing questions why Rob Neyer leaves Scott Kazmir off his list of top young pitchers even though Kid K meets the criteria set forth by Neyer. [Outs Per Swing]
- Baseball Analysts concludes their break-down of the best young players by age. The latest lists look at 20 and 21 year old. Desmond Jennings(#7) and Jake McGee (#9) both make the list of top 21-year olds. [Baseball Analysts]