Saturday, February 15, 2003

Greg Vaughn - says he's had ''a couple bad years'' then adds his track record is better than the GM's.

Bierbrodt is back! He definately wont want to repeat the events of last year. He had a bad spring camp, which led to a return to the minor leagues, followed by the terrifying incident where he was shot twice in the chest by a man on a bicycle while sitting at a fast food drive-through window.

Friday, February 14, 2003

An old article on Toby Hall tells story of how he had been told by the scouts he would be like a second round draft pick, but fell into the ninth round. Instead of dragging out negotiations, Toby signed for $40,000 and got to work. He vowed to the Rays scout that he planned to be the first position player drafted by the Rays to get to the majors. (Not counting contractually obligated promotions, he was the second.)

From the Chicago Sun Times on Devil Ray Jim Parque: "turns 27 on Feb. 8, was never the same after starting Game 1 of the 2000 playoffs. Shoulder problems led to surgery, and he spent most of last season at Class AAA Charlotte. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays will give him a look as a starter, but his future might be in the bullpen. He went 13-6 in 2000.

From TBO - Pitching staff remains a mystery. Well, here are the contenders... There will be 30 or so pitchers in Devil Rays camp trying out for 12 spots on the major league roster:
(L) Joe Kennedy - age 23
(R) Steve Parris - age 34
(R) Dewon Brazelton - age 22
(L) Nick Bierbrodt - age 24
(R) Victor Zambrano - age 27
(R) Bob Wells - age 35
(R) Jason Standridge - age 24
(R) Jesus Colome - age 22
(R) Dan Reichert - age 25
(R) Travis Harper - age 26
(R) Travis Phelps - age 24
(R) Delvin James - age 24
(R) Seth McClung - age 21
(R) Doug Waechter - age 21
(R) Lesli Brea - age 23
(L) Jim Parque - age 27
(L)Matt Perisho - age 32
(R) Lance Carter - age 27
(R) Mel Rojas - age 35
(R) Matt White - age 23
(L) Bobby Seay - age 24
(R) Brandon Backe - age 24
(R) Jorge Sosa - age 24
(R)Luis de los Santos - age 24
(R) Gerardo Garcia - age 22
(L) Hans Smith - age 23
(R)Brian Stokes - age 22
(R) John Frascatore - age 32
(R) Jeremi Gonzalez - age 27
(L) Cedrick Bowers - age 24
(R) Mike James - age 27
(R) Erik Sabel - age 27
(R) Blake Stein - age 28

It certainly makes sense now why the team no longer had a use for a Paul Wilson or a Tanyon Sturtze. It will be interesting to see how the competition plays out.

Lou sets goal of 70 wins in 2003.

Batter's Box - Opinions and observations about the Pastime, from a Toronto perspective. It looks like a pretty good baseball blog.

ESPN Spring Training 2003. An article on ESPN by Jason Stark says this about the Devil Rays: "all we need to know about the Devil Rays is that their biggest acquisition (aside from their manager) was Rey Ordonez".

He makes a good point their about Ordonez. He is an offensive dud. But, for a young team like this, he will certainly help the pitchers. For the amount the Mets picked up on his salary, it was a no lose transaction.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Seth McClung signed a basic one-year agreement with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays last week. But the only thing that really matters to him is getting spring training started so he can begin making his case that he belongs among the organization's top pitchers.

Coney back as a Mets again! - It could happen, here are some Cone photos from the archives.


Wednesday, February 12, 2003 Spring Training Preview.

With the Rays making the commitment to go with young players, it will be interesting to see what type of player talent might be uncovered. You see, with a collection of unproven players in the spring training camp, each one is trying to make his mark and demonstrate that he can be a big time player at the Major League level.

Take for example, the year 1991. I made a trip to Kissimmee Florida from Atlanta to catch some spring training. This is the spring training site for the Houston Astros. They had decided to go with young players. Just about every position was up for grabs. They had these two young players competing for first base. Their names were Luis Gonzales and Jeff Bagwell. I had never heard of Bagwell. I knew of the Luis Gonzales name from Tampa. The way the stadium was laid out, in warm-ups you got the opportunity to get close up to the players. I actually got a chance to chat with Gonzales and asked him if he remembered playing against my high school, Leto High. He said he certainly did. I got Bagwell's autograph on a baseball even though I never heard of him. The team was loaded with other young players. Some other players I remember seeing that were relatively unknowns at the time were OF Kenny Lofton, Eric Anthony, P Curt Schilling and Darryl Kile, C Tony Esubio and Scott Servais, Ken Caminitti. So, as Spring Training begins, remember you might be getting the opportunity to talk to or see a future star in the making.

From ESPN, Rays minor league report.

By Gary Huckabay, an article about the Rays organization.

Best free agent signings in MLB this off season.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

I make my annual trip to Tampa in March. I will get to catch the Rays in Spring Training. I hope to bring back some pictures. I have tickets to see the Rays play the Yankees on March 9 in St. Petersburg.

D-Rays Fan Fest 2003 is Feb 15/16.

From the Tampa Tribune, CARTER GADDIS writes an article titled Questions For Rays As Spring Almost In Bloom where he presents 10 questions facing the Devil Ray staff over the next 6 weeks of Sping Training:

Q1: What will Piniella try to accomplish in his first spring training?

A1: It will be a learning process from both sides. Piniella will try to get a feel for the talent level of the young players and establish which of the veterans are best suited to fill in the holes. The young players will begin the detailed process of learning how to win.

Q2: What is the most compelling spring training competition?

A2: Although second base (Brent Abernathy, Marlon Anderson) could be interesting, the starting rotation is the most important issue confronting Piniella and his staff. Only Joe Kennedy is a lock for the rotation, although Dewon Brazelton would have to fall completely flat not to earn a spot and Victor Zambrano pitched well as a starter at the end of 2002. Among those in the running for the rotation are veterans Dan Reichert, Steve Parris and Jim Parque. Keep an eye on left-hander Nick Bierbrodt, 24, who reportedly has made significant progress since being shot in the right arm and chest last summer. Jason Standridge, Delvin James, Seth McClung and Gerardo Garcia also could be factors.

Q3: What is the starting rotation most likely at the end of spring training?

A3: The best guess is Kennedy, Parris, Parque, Brazelton and Standridge. Garcia, a 22-year-old right-hander who excelled in the Mexican League, could be the surprise of camp. Zambrano, Reichert, Travis Harper and veterans Bob Wells, John Frascatore, Blake Stein and Carlos Reyes should be factors in the bullpen decisions.

Q4: What is the most likely Opening Day lineup?

A4: Carl Crawford, left field; Anderson, second base; Aubrey Huff, designated hitter; Ben Grieve, right field; Toby Hall, catcher; Travis Lee, first base; Jared Sandberg, third base; Rocco Baldelli, center field; Rey Ordonez, shortstop. This would make Hall and Grieve the only holdovers from last season's Opening Day lineup. There is no established leadoff batter, which leaves the speedy Crawford as the most likely candidate at the top of the order.

Q5: Who is the most likely closer at the end of spring training?

A5: Although Mel Rojas is invited to camp, he hasn't pitched in the majors since 1999, and there are no other proven closers in camp. Hard-throwing Jesus Colome's health - and legal status - may be a question after his car accident in the Dominican Republic last week. That leaves Lance Carter, who rarely breaks 90 mph with his fastball but was 2-0 with two saves and a 1.33 ERA in eight games for the Rays at the end of 2002. He put together a 16 1/3-inning scoreless streak in September. Bottom line on Carter: He throws strikes.

Q6: Will Greg Vaughn break camp with the Rays?

A6: He will if he shows he can still hit. Otherwise, the Rays will cut ties with him despite owing him $9 million for the final year of his contract.

Q7: Is Baldelli ready to play every day in center?

A7: The answer is probably no. At 21, the 2002 Minor League Player of the Year has yet to play a full minor-league season more difficult than high Class A. That said, he will begin the season with the Rays unless he simply falls apart during spring training.

Q8: Will the 25-man roster be made up exclusively of players who open camp with the Rays?

A8: Not necessarily. The Rays will keep a close eye on the waiver wire and could add a player or two during the Grapefruit League schedule.

Q9: Can Josh Hamilton make the team out of spring training?

A9: Probably not, but he's likely to begin the season with Durham and could be with the Rays by the All-Star break if he stays healthy.

Q10: Are there any potential surprises among nonroster invitees?

A10: The Rays need experienced relievers, so 32-year-old Matt Perisho and 35-year-old Mike James have legitimate chances to make the team. Others to keep an eye on are outfielder Ryan Thompson, infielder Jay Canizaro and left-handed reliever Brian Fitzgerald.

Not the infamous Ryan Thompson. He is still around. Hmm, wonder if Anthony Young is available?

From Tom Verducci of SI on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Will Lou Piniella rush rookie outfielder Rocco Baldelli to the big leagues? How long before Piniella wants laid back Travis Lee, Ben Grieve and Rey Ordonez gone? Did you know the Rays, in the diamond version of American Idol, are bringing 29 non-roster players to camp?

Monday, February 10, 2003

I think there may be some truth to that rumor that Ted Turner wants to buy back the Braves. You see, he just left his position with AOLTW. He is the founder of CNN. Notice the CNNSI site is now

From Gammons column on the Mets : "This is the second highest paid team in baseball, they invested $21 million in Glavine, Stanton and Floyd for this year".

If I had 21 million to spend, I think I'd still rather have spent it all on Alex Rodriguez.

From the Hartford Courant, article suggests a driving Spring Training tour. On March 4, says to check out the Rays in
St. Petersburg:

Ballpark: Al Lang Field (Florida Flower Park) (Devil Rays)

What you should see: Make sure new manager Lou Piniella hasn't resigned yet. He is the only real attraction for the Devil Rays and as a hometown hero will likely make himself available for autographs. The ballpark is right off the bay, which gives fans a wonderful view of the harbor. Make note of the Florida Flower Park signs if you don't see signs for Al Lang Field. This is the only Florida ballpark that has succumbed to corporate sponsorship.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Has anyone taken notice that a major league franchise has shown up in Tampa Bay. Finally the team has a plan. The Rays go with youth, youth and youth...

Up to this point the GM has really done nothing at the major league level that merits him keeping his job. His only saving grace is that he was the one in charge of the organization that picked these young players that are about to arrive on the Rays scene.

Anyone notice every Devil Ray player that was elgible for arbitration was sent on his way out the door. In the years to come, I hope this isn't the practice if the team is to become successful.


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