The Rays of 2008 are vastly different than any of the ther 10 variations of the "Devil Rays" that we've seen throughout the years. However, yesterday's duel versus Wang proved that we're not the young assassins of the AL East that some national media make us out to be. Yes, we've finally put together a lethal line-up that can score runs by the bunches and actually prevent them with decent fielding....we've yet to get that bully mentality to step on our opponents' throats and give them the idea that we're not going to let up on any pitcher.
In the 5 games played thus far, here's what I've noticed.
- While we marvel at our middle infield's vast improvement defensively, Aki & Barty have yet to get it going with the bats. Barty has been known for his decent patience in his short career in Minnesota, it's yet to appear in any game with the Rays. Aki, as long as he puts together 5-8 pitch ABs, is not going to get an harsh words with me yet.
- Dan Wheeler pitches well when he's given money... I've personally decided to give Dan the nickname of "Jukebox" because he seems to play the tune you want when you put in money. Looks like he's regain the great, unhittable slider that he once used to dominate with.
- For me to say that Jose Conseco and Andrew Friedman have something in common, people would give me funny looks just saying that. Jose is large and over-tanned, while Friedman seems to be not very physically imposing and almost "Conan O'Brien" pale. However, both seem to be cashing in on "Vindication." While many people believed Conseco was cashing in on the steroid era that he was a key part of, just throwing out names of his former teammates and trying to attract a wide scope of readers, he was right about alot of those people and now his 2nd book will probably be read in a better light. While Andrew's vindication has nothing to do with laws or steroid use, he's becoming vindicated in the terms of a non-baseball guy becoming a good/above-average GM(Executive VP) and one that can find talent out of small pick-ups and players who have lost past "luster" or aging veterans who people have questions about their longetivity.
To name a few, here's some nice "rise from the ashes" pick-ups that Andrew has made...
Carlos Pena(2007) , Greg Norton(yup, I'd list him too...remember his 2006?), Ruddy Lugo(2006), Al Reyes(2007), Cliff Floyd(2008), Eric Hinske(2008), Troy Percival(2008)
Can we add JP Howell and Eric Hinske to the list yet?
- Which Edwin Jackson will we see more of in 2008 before the cavalry arrives? Mr. Edwin(Level-headed good young pitcher) or Dr. Jack(Wild and hittable)?
- Evan Longoria is still hitless in Durham....did the guys tell him to not swing his bat once in Durham and he'll get his 1st hits of the year in St. Pete?
- Matt Garza is eerily similar to Carlos Zambrano, he's very "excitable" and his control fades when he loses his mental focus. However, that fastball and curveball are "killer"(both in real life and in MLB The Show 2008, where he broke Aubrey Huff's hand with a poorly aimed pitch by me). If GarZa can win 19 games like Big Z, I'll cope with the bouts of his "excitability"