Tampa Bay Rays (34 days until Opening Day)

For those that do not follow the comments sections, let us clarify our point on Barry Bonds.

There are reasons to sign Bonds and there are reasons not to sign Bonds. We understand both sides of the argument. In fact, we believe the Rays would be a better baseball team with Bonds. And in all probability the Rays would sell more tickets and make more money with Bonds.

However, our argument has never been about “should they” or “shouldn’t they”. We are just saying the Rays won’t. Signing Bonds would go against everything the Rays front office has done in the past two-plus years. They traded last year’s headaches, Elijah Dukes and Delmon Young. They dropped the term ‘Devil’ because some people reacted negatively. Free agent signings have filled needs, not wants.

But most importantly, the Rays like to speak of their new ‘brand’ (new nickname, logos and colors). The team has gone to great lengths to promote the new brand in a positive light. It doesn’t seem very likely that they are going to want America’s first experience with that brand to be in the form of Barry Bonds.

The Rays have a plan. The plan is working. Now can we please get back to talking about the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays? Yes? Good.

DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA

  • If you haven’t had a chance to vote in this week’s “Rays Confidence Survey”, you can do so right HERE. [Rays Index]
  • Buster Olney (behind the wall of “ESPN: Insider”) believes that Barry Bonds makes sense for the Rays. There are now 6,345,122 new stories on Bonds to the Rays, good or bad? We did not want to link to any of them, but Buster Olney is very well respected. [ESPN]
  • Of course “the players” would welcome Barry Bonds. That is because nobody thought to ask Cliff Floyd and Jonny Gomes, two players that would stand to lose consider playing time with the addition of Bonds. [Tampa Bay Rays]
  • ESPN takes a satirical look at the Pros and Cons of Barry Bonds playing for each of the 30 teams. [ESPN]
  • Willy Aybar and Joel Guzman had their visa issues resolved and will be in camp today and tomorrow. [St. Pete Times]
  • The Bradenton Herald interview Evan Longoria on how he is approaching this year’s Spring Training. [Bradenton Herald]
  • The Tampa Tribune interviews Reid Brignac and he discusses the key step that helped him turn the corner with regard to his defense at shortstop. [Tampa Tribune]

Beginning in spring training last year, the Rays set about to revamp Brignac’s throwing motion. A tall, rangy shortstop whose build recalls Cal Ripken Jr., Brignac was in the habit of delivering his throws straight over the top. That’s what you want from an outfielder, which Brignac was in high school until his senior season, but not ideal for an infielder.

“You can’t teach hands or anything like that, but they did a great job of getting me where I needed to be to be successful,” Brignac said. “You can either take that and run with it or you can try and do your own thing, and nine times out of 10, if you listen to the advice that has been given to you and the coaching that has gone on and run with it, you learn a lot. You get better.”

Brignac certainly did. He had committed 19 errors, most of them with his arm rather than his glove, in his first 90 games for the Biscuits. He committed only three more miscues in his final 43 games.

  • Joe Maddon will wait until after the first two intrasquad games before deciding how much Rocco Baldelli will play in the early portion of the Spring Training schedule. [Herald-Tribune]
  • Jason Bartlett and infielder coach Tom Foley think that Akinori Iwamura is making great strides in his adjustment to second base. [Tampa Bay Rays]

“He’s going to be fine,” said Jason Bartlett, the Rays’ new shortstop. “Everybody makes a big deal about it, but he’s an athlete. … I don’t think it’s going to be a problem at all.”

“He’s doing great,” Foley said. “There are some little things he has to do to help him out, but as far as fundamentals, he’s doing great.

“Aki’s a great athlete and seems to have a real good grip on second base already,” Foley said. “It’s just a matter of playing games. When you go from one side of the diamond to the other side, and all of a sudden, you get a ball in the gap: What are your responsibilities? Those things have to be reactionary once the season starts.”

  • One More Dying Quail compares the 2008 to the 1969 New York Mets. And as Red Sox fans they are scared. [One More Dying Quail]
  • Joe Maddon has enlisted one player every morning to tell the Joke-of-the-Day prior to workouts. [ESPN]
  • Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus attended the Tampa Bay Rays’ FanFest. He even took a few pictures. [Baseball Prospectus]
  • One blogger thinks that a new-and-improved Rays could cause havoc in the AL East, which may lead to the AL Wild Card coming from the AL Central. [The Spot Starters]
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