Friday, February 8, 2008

The Godfather

What would happen if this guy and this guy had a kid? It would probably looking something like him. Mr. Gammons gave some kind words to the Rays today in his espn.com blog.

"Tampa Bay may not leap into the playoffs because the Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays can be three of the four or five best teams in the American League, but because of their offseason decisions and the ready supply of young pitchers they are on the brink of being really good. The first vital decision came during last season when B.J. Upton found his role in center field and rolled up 24 homers and an .894 OPS (highest of any player under the age of 26) and gave glimpses of legitimate stardom, emerging as Carlos Pena became the star player (and presence) for the Rays that many believed he would become. Then came the decision to make trades that would lighten Joe Maddon's firefighter role and deepened the pitching. Then came the acquisition of Jason Bartlett, a legitimate shortstop."

"If Longoria is the 30-home run third baseman many predict he will become, catcher Dioner Navarro fulfills Maddon's expectations and Rocco Baldelli can at least DH, then the team in the field will be extremely competitive (David Pinto figures they will be up to nearly 5.5 runs per game, roughly the equivalent of the Tigers in 2008). Now with Troy Percival, Dan Wheeler and Al Reyes in the bullpen, there is maturity and responsibility to preserve what Scott Kazmir, James Shields and Matt Garza start. Maddon will look at Edwin Jackson, Andy Sonnanstine, Jason Hammel and Jeff Niemann at the end of the rotation, but it won't be long until Price, Jake McGee and Wade Davis -- all top 25 prospects -- will be knocking on the door. "

"Can the Rays catch the Yankees and Red Sox and keep their players? The answers will come, in time, but this is the year Tampa Bay will go into spring training considered far superior to the rebuilding Orioles and with none of the big-market teams wanting to play them."

5.5 runs per game? Whoa. If the Rays click on all cylinders and have a healthy Rocco for the entire season then I could possibly see that coming true, but I think a comparison to the 2008 Tigers projected juggernaught of an offense is premature.