Tampa Bay Rays (3 days until pitchers and catchers report)
Just wanted to take a second to once again thank DRG for holding down the fort on the weekend, allowing us to enjoy are literal hangovers in peace. We have a few things on tap for you today but until then just the links and quick reminder that today is “Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day“, so we will try not to complain about anything that has happened with the Rays in the past.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- Armchair GM takes a look at who they think are the top 5 shortstops in baseball. No. Jason Bartlett is not on the list (apparently hot fiancee is not a criteria). But they do name Reid Brignac the top prospect. [Armchair GM]
You won’t see Brignac to open the season in Tampa Bay this year. After crushing single-A pitching in 2006, Reid had a huge drop in batting average, and a less drastic drop in power numbers when he transitioned to AA in ’07. Chances are he will get a full season of grooming in AAA this year, however, given an injury or two in Tampa this summer, you might get to see another potential star for the Rays. He is capable of going .300/20/85/20 if he were to get a full season of ABs.
- Anybody tired of Top Prospect lists yet? Yes? Too bad. Next up John Sickels takes a stab at what he thinks Baseball America’s list of the Top 100 prospects will look like. Evan Longoria is #2 behind Jay Bruce. In all, seven Rays make the list, not including Jeremy Hellickson who is Honorable Mention. [Minor League Ball]
- RaysBB has begun to unveil their list of the Rays top 25 prospects as voted on by a number of people. We participated, but we already see the fallibility in the concept. Remember, we are fans of the team which makes it difficult to be objective. Like most fans the list is littered with players from the lower levels that will never see the light of day in the major leagues. But when those players put up even very good numbers against other 18-20 year olds, fans start to drool incessantly. It is natural to see hope in the young. As a rule, we very rarely pay much mind to a prospect until he performs at the AA or AAA-level. That is why we will keep a guy like Elliot Johnson in our top 15, and ignore a guy like MikeMcCormick (despite our love for catchers). In spite of a horrendous 2007, Johnson has performed a strong season above A-ball, and his drop-off in 2007 was too great to be due to skill alone. [RaysBB]
- Rays of Light is fine with the Rays keeping Evan Longoria in the minors to start the season. [Rays of Light]
- Baseball Digest Daily held a roundtable discussion in which one of the questions asked was “Which team will surprise everyone in 2008?”
Twothree of the eight panel members picked the Rays. [Baseball Digest Daily]
- Rays Anatomy is back with their latest installment of “A Tale Of Two Erics” in which two points of view are offered on one subject. This time it is Dioner Navarro. [Rays Anatomy]
- Rays of Light pounds Marc Topkin for a random nonsensical comment about the possibility of the Rays signing Barry Bonds. We have covered this topic before. Signing Bonds goes against everything the Rays front office is trying to do. The Rays had two distractions on the roster last year (Elijah Dukes and Delmon Young). Where are those two players now? And Topkin thinks it is even possible the Rays would sign Bonds? After the link we will just complete our argument by quoting ourselves from November 19, when another website also clamored for Bonds . [Rays of Light]
Can we please ease up on the talk about Barry Bonds playing for the Rays? Let’s say for a moment that the Rays could sign Bonds for a reasonably cheap price…and let’s say for a moment that at 44 years old he can still hit 30 home runs and post a .450 OBP…and let’s say he does not get suspended or spend any time in jail…there is still ZERO chance the Rays will sign Bonds. Yes, he might still be effective and yes he would help increase attendance, but if there is one thing we can all agree on about the Tampa Bay Rays front office…it is that they are very image conscious. This is a team that just became the first team since the Houston Colt .45s to change their name without moving because some people react “negatively” to the term “devil”. And some people still think that it is possible for the Rays to sign a player that is A) a cheater; B) under indictment for perjury; C) universally hated by baseball fans. Let us put it this way. The Rays would not sign Barry Bonds even if he came to the Rays with a blank contract ala Andre Dawson to the Cubs in 1987.
- Bill Chastain says that Hope will flourish in Spring Training for the Rays, as he examines the few remaining question marks for the Rays opening day roster, the biggest of which could be Rocco Baldelli’s health. [RaysBaseball.com]
- Delmon Young is happier than he has been since high school, and he has decided it is time to grow up. We will believe it when he has gone an entire season without complaining to the manager or the press. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]
Young, 22, said he made a conscious decision to change his attitude the day after the season, when he got home from Tampa.
“It was time to clean it up and grow up,” he said, as sweat dripped off his 6-3, 215-pound frame from a recent workout. “You get four years from 18-21 — you know, college time — where you can get in a little bit of trouble. But after that you’ve got to wake up and join the real world.”
- There is a new Rays blog in the neighborhood, Rays Rampant. So far we are not impressed. In just their second post they combined the numbers of players lost and players added to the roster this off-season. Never mind that a player like Eric Hinske or Mike DiFelice has little chance of playing for the Rays in 2008. Our biggest problem is that when they combined the stats in each group they were sloppy in how they calculated OBP. They just added hits and walks, divided by at bats+walks. Of course anybody can tell you that much more goes into OBP. For starters you divide by plate appearances. Plate appearances include other things like Hit By Pitch and Sacrifices. Did you know it is actually possible to have an OBP lower than BA? If a player has more sacrifices than walks, it will be, as a sacrifice adds a plate appearance without adding a time on base. It has happened. It is hard to take numbers seriously when they aren’t even calculated correctly. [Rays Rampant]