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A Look at The Rays

A Look at The Rays
3/30/09
Paul Chick

Sometimes it seems winter will never loosen it’s grip but one week til Opening Day! The Rays begin defense of the American League crown April 6 at Fenway. Get those excuses ready for the boss!

If Tampa Bay had known they’d only need to drop “Devil” from their moniker to have a heaven sent season it may have happened a lot sooner. This Rays club reminds me a lot of the 2007 Tigers. Came out of nowhere with good pitching and young players stepping up with big contributions. Detroit was the odds on favorite to win the Central last year and finished last. Don’t think the Rays will slide that far but 97 wins might be asking too much. Look for 85 – 90 wins and 3rd place for Tampa. Hopefully the fan base will support the home team and not only when the Sox and Yankees are in town (and most of the crowd rooting for the visitors).

Did you notice old friend Gabe Kapler signed a one-year deal with Tampa? Kapler returned to the majors last year with the Brewers (96 games, .301 Avg.) after a one-year stint managing in the minors with the Sox. Nice addition along with Pat “The Bat” Burrell. Tampa also acquired LF Matt Joyce from the Tigers in exchange for P Edwin Jackson. He’s missed much of the spring with a leg injury but may start the season in CF if BJ Upton is still recovering from labrum surgery. The Rays like his defense and he’s only 24.

One reason the Rays may have opted to trade Jackson is 6’9” right-hander Jeff Niemann. That’s right 6’9”…oh and he’s listed at 280 lbs! Niemann made two starts for the Rays last April while Matt Garza was on the DL. He won his major league debut against the O’s on April 13 going 6 innings and allowing just one run. Niemann spent most of the year at Triple A Durham before a September call up. The big fella is from Texas, of course, and played his college ball at Rice.

Jason Isringhausen could add life to the Rays bullpen. Isringhausen endured injuries during much of 2008 and finally shut it down on August 16. He signed a minor league deal with Tampa and made his first spring appearance on March 15 against Pittsburgh (1 IP, 1 ER, 1K). 293 career saves ranks him sixth on the active pitchers list.



1 comment:

  1. The “Devil Rays” dropping to just the “Rays” was the stupidest thing ever. Is this MLB? Or WMLB? Why not change just the name to “Hey friend, looks like you could use a hug!” Stuart Sternberg is a big pussy. Whatever… keep ringing those cowbells, ya redneck idiots. Go back to NASCAR.

    Speaking of name changes, these are the same marketing geniuses that changed the Washington Bullets to the Wizards. I used to live in DC, and I saw a lot of bullets, but I never saw any wizards. Next thing ya know, Harry Potter is going to fly around at halftime.

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