The other day, I posted Part One of the first ever Devil Ray Blogger Round table. Here is part Two. Again, the Devil Rays Bloggers that participated include :
Jim of Z-Rays
Jake of Rocc Says
Jay of Rays Baseball
Jessica/Sam of Rays Talk
Piniella stated he is not making any predictions this year after saying Rays will get out of the cellar last season. Since Lou is out of the prediction business, do you have any predictions for the club in 2005?
Z-RAYS (Jim) : 75 wins. No idea what the standings will be, that depends greatly on how Baltimore and Toronto will do.
RAYSTALK (Jessica) : I predict that the Rays will finish in fourth place again this year. I think they will finish with somewhere between 70 wins (their total last season) and .500.
ROCC SAYS (Jake) : Look at my latest blogging for my predictions. As for Lou, he's usually a year behind in his predictions. He usually achieves his prediction a year after he predicts it. Last year he was heard that say that the Rays will finish at or near .500 for the season. So I see us probably getting close to that this year.
RAYSBASEBALL (Jay) : Another year of roster upheaval. The veterans will play before giving way to the young guys. This year will be more about the rotation for me - Kazmir, McClung, Niemann, Seddon, Hammel, and Matthews are coming quickly and need shots in the rotation over the next 2 seasons. Brazelton and Waechter either make their move this year or they will be left behind (and maybe out of the organization) next season.
RAYSTALK (Sam) : For next season, I see roughly the same number of wins as 2004. Maybe a few less because of that enormous hot streak we had in June. I think it's gonna be close between the Rays and Jays, though, in the fight to see who avoids the AL East basement: a few W/L either way could seal our fate. So for that reason, I won't say whether I think we'll finish 4th or last.
I think we are in agreement that the Rays best off season acquisition is was DH Josh Phelps. Is he an everyday player or platoon player? Why has he already gone thru two organizations at such a young age?
Z-RAYS (Jim) : Based on recent performance Phelps is a platoon player. However, there is no reason for the Rays to not give him every opportunity to make it as the everyday DH, he was successful in the majors against right-handed pitching initially. Being released by Cleveland was no big deal, they didn't have room for him. I'm not sure why they bothered trading for him in the first place. Why he was traded out of Toronto is unclear, but so are a lot of the things that Ricciardi has done lately.
RAYSTALK (Jessica) : Josh Phelps has not yet put up the numbers that could be expected of an everyday major leaguer. At best, I expect him to be a part-time first base/DH and a pinch-hitter.
ROCC SAYS (Jake) : Delgado, Hafner and Broussard have all been roadblocks in front of Phelps. I could see him as an everyday player if the situation is right. He could be an everyday DH, but an every day 1B is a bit iffy.
RAYSBASEBALL (Jay) : I don't know why Phelps went through two organizations, but he's an everyday player. I'm optimistic on him big-time.
RAYSTALK (Sam) : I think you platoon a guy when he's going to hurt you by playing everyday. Even though he's not as good a hitter against RHP as he is against LHP, Phelps isn't going to hurt us by playing every day. His 3-year splits:
Against RHP (686 AB's): .254 AVG, .323 OBP, .462 SLG
Against LHP (346 AB's): .309 AVG, .373 OBP, .535 SLG
Even against righty pitching, Phelps is going to be one the more productive and powerful hitters in our lineup. And we need that bat badly, so in other words, no platoon. As for the multiple organizations thing, that's silly. He spent
almost no time in Cleveland, where they're seriously overloaded with talent at OF and 1B, which leaves AB's a scarce commodity. They just don't have room in the lineup for a DH type like Phelps, and we benefit from that situation.
Does Brandon Larson have a chance to win the job over Lou's pick of 3B Alex Gonzalez who is technically a defensive minded SS?
Z-RAYS (Jim) : No. Gonzalez is the guy Lou wanted for third base, only injury will keep him from opening the season there.
RAYSTALK (Jessica) : With Gonzo?s history at third base, it shouldn?t come as a surprise if somebody else (Larson, Upton, Cantu, Huff, etc.) winds up being the starting third baseman.
ROCC SAYS (Jake) : God I hope so, I'd buy that jersey in a flash if he did. Too bad he didn't spell his last name "Larsen" or it'd be a perfect match. I could see any of our 3B signees stealing the spot from A-Gone, all you have to do is hit and show some defensive skill and you have an advantage over A-Gone.
RAYSBASEBALL (Jay) : Larson really doesn't have much of a shot. It's too bad, but Lou wants to win, not give guys tryouts. He won't do that to the rest of the team, and in a way I respect that. I just don't see how AGon helps the Rays compete.
RAYSTALK (Sam) : Not likely. Honestly, I don't mind the signing of Gonzalez, except for the fact that I'd rather see the kids play. While Gonzo's production at 3B won't be quite up to league average for the position (think, like, sort of a poor man's Shea Hillenbrand), his defense should be pretty good. Could be worse. Could be better, too.
Roberto Alomar could of signed with managers who both are from Tampa. Why do you think Roberto Alomar chose the Rays with Lou Piniella over the Cardinals with Tony LaRussa?
Z-RAYS (Jim) : The Cardinals had already signed Mark Grudzielanek so Alomar would have been a backup in St. Louis. He still views himself as an everyday player and playing time is especially important to him as he chases 3000 hits.
RAYSTALK (Jessica) : The Cardinals already have a number of big name players. The Rays are a team of mostly young prospects. My best guess is that Alomar was looking to be a big name in Tampa Bay rather than in the mix with St. Louis.
ROCC SAYS (Jake) : Guaranteed spot, possibly drugs.
RAYSBASEBALL (Jay) : The Rays gave him more playing time. And he wants the 3,000 hits. I don't see him doing well here, maybe getting off to a good start but he won't play much in the second half - either due to injuries or poor production.
RAYSTALK (Sam) : Don't make me respond to that question. You won't like the answer.
I hear that watching Brazelton pitch can be frustrating. He throws alot of pitches. Is he a better pitcher long term than Rob Bell or is he still just young?
Z-RAYS (Jim) : Long-term he might be better but probably not by much. I?m pretty skeptical about him ever turning into much. If he isn?t traded he?ll probably be non-tendered before his second arbitration year.
RAYSTALK (Jessica) : Brazelton has had his problems. He needs to settle down and improve his control. However, Bell?s curveball is more often off than not, making him an equal problem. It will take at least Spring Training, and probably some regular season time as well, for them to show which will be the better long-term pitcher.
ROCC SAYS (Jake) : He's better than Bell, but he needs to get his head right and lose some weight. Man, this guy sweats like a mafia stool pigeon. He'll be good as soon as this happens. He's definitely got the skills.
RAYSBASEBALL (Jay) : He has to get his slider over and have confidence in it. Then he needs better control on the fastball. If he makes those two adjustments, he's a long-term answer. If not, he won't be a major-league starter.
RAYSTALK (Sam) : Braz is a hot-topic among Rays fans right now, ain't he? I'll be honest: he's got good stuff, but he's never shown any sign that he can control it. Best-case scenario, IMO, he's another Vic Zambrano. Take that for what it's worth.