Thursday, February 14, 2008

ESPN finally realizes there's a team in Tampa Bay.

Jayson Stark of ESPN posted a column today about Spring Training. He took us through the most interesting storylines, most improved and unimproved teams, best and worst off season moves, rookies to watch and much more. However, unlike years past the Rays weren't just an after thought. Some of the Rays highlights were:

The Rise of the Rays as the 5th most intriguing spring stories in the AL.

We always knew that one of these decades, that franchise in Tampa Bay might crash through the magical 70-win barrier. Well, guess what. This should actually be the year. Is The Team Formerly Known as the Devil Rays ready to slap around the Yankees or Red Sox (or even the underrated Blue Jays)? Nah. Not yet. But the Rays have added Matt Garza to the rotation and depth to the bullpen. Third base stud Evan Longoria might be the most buzzed-about phenom in baseball. And three of the best pitching prospects on earth (David Price, Jake McGee, Wade Davis) are just over the horizon. Here's how promising this team is: One AL executive actually predicts the Rays won't even pick in the first 10 picks of the draft. Pass the smelling salts!

Stark also has the Rays listed as the 3rd most improved team in the AL and Evan Longoria is mentioned as the number one Rookie to watch in the AL.

I may pass out from all this Rays love that is being thrown around the league.