Baseball In Tampa Bay No Longer An Embarrassing Mess
I predicted that 2009 would be the year that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays caught and passed the aging New York Yankees, but I was wrong. It has already happened. The Yankees, whose players are, on average, 31.4 years old, currently sit five games behind the Rays in the standings. There is little reason to believe that they will close that gap between now and the end of the season, as both teams’ records reflect their team runs-scored/runs allowed totals. The Yankees are only getting older and more expensive, with Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter all locked up for next season and beyond at more than $10 million apiece.
Conversely, the Rays, who are currently, on average, 27.1 years old, are also only going to get better, as a decade of miserable Major League performance has netted them a subsequent decade’s worth of high draft picks. While some teams, like the Rangers, have strong farm systems that are packed with good, Major-League talent, the Rays’ system is loaded with low-risk potential superstars. With yesterday’s #1 pick of SS Tim Beckham, the trend continues. The Rays’ projected lineup for 2010 (I recommend checking out the linked minor league players’ stats, especially the pitchers):
C: Dioner Navarro SP: Scott Kazmir
1B: Carlos Pena SP: James Shields
2B: Reid Brignac SP: Matt Garza
3B: Evan Longoria SP: Jacob McGee
LF: Carl Crawford
CF: B.J. Upton
DH: Jonny Gomes
If this team goes on to win six World Series titles in the next decade, which is well within the realm of possibility, their embarrassing first decade will apparently have been worth it, for if they hadn’t been so goddamn awful then they wouldn’t have received all those high draft picks, as almost all of the players listed above were either drafted by the Rays or acquired in trades for homegrown players. I’m jumping on the bandwagon now.
On an unrelated Rays note, after all the hubbub about changing their name, uniforms, logo, and colors in the past year, why was yesterday’s top draft pick, Tim Beckham, photographed wearing an old Devil Rays hat after being selected? In case you’re wondering, yes, this is my second post in which I discuss Tampa Bay Devil Rays hats. Weird.