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DRays Blogger Round Table Part Three

The third and final Part of the first ever Devil Ray Blogger Round table is finally here.  If you missed any of the earlier Q&A, here is Part One and 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

Who is the one that got away. Is it Joe Kennedy, Chad Gaudin, or Brandon Backe?

Z-RAYS (Jim) : I'm not a big believer in change of scene being a boost for players but I do think that Kennedy benefited by being traded from the Rays. I don't consider him as really getting away because I don't think he would have been very good for the Rays in 2005 and I don't expect his superb performance in Colorado to continue at last season's level. I'm predicting a fairly significant regression for him in 2005. Backe hasn't convinced me either. Gaudin is the best choice since he is still so young and has a lot of potential. There is no excuse for trading him away for practically nothing, even if he does end up being nothing more than a solid reliever.

RAYSTALK (Jessica) : Gaudin has yet to play for another team, so it's too early to say that he's the one that got away.  Kennedy put up some good numbers last season in a hitter's park, but I think the change of scenery is part of what helped him. Backe was a good, promising pitcher with the Rays before he joined the Astros
playoff run, so I would have to say he's the one that got away.

ROCC SAYS (Jake) : I'm glad to see all 3 gone, but if I was forced at gun-point, I'd pick Backe. He seems like he could've been a decent starter. Gaudin had 2 pitches and Joe Kennedy sucked and will continue to suck, he just got lucky last season.

RAYSBASEBALL (Jay) : Chad Gaudin.  JFK wasn't going to make it here, on Lou's team.  I don't believe Backe will be much more than a journeyman.

RAYSTALK (Sam) : They're all bad deals.  Most Rays fans seem to agree that Kennedy needed a
change of scenery, so if that's true, we weren't going to do either him or ourselves a favor by holding him hostage.  Backe ... we gave him away for nothing.  Is he a future stud?  Probably not, but he's a something, and we gave him away for nothing.  Gaudin, same story, except Geoff Blum looks stellar compared to Kevin "I'm not money" Cash.  In that sense, I guess I'd call the
Gaudin deal the worst.

Baseball Prospectus has given Jonny Gomes a nice PECOTA projection. Is this the year he gets a chance, or is there another Rays player who might have a breakout season?

Z-RAYS (Jim) : I think he does get a chance. If BPro is projecting that kind of major league performance then I'm assuming he'll get a good boost in his average at Triple-A that will be enough to get him a major league call-up at some point as the offense goes nowhere. As for a possible breakout season from somebody else, I'd have to say Chris Seddon. I'm starting to realize that I low-balled him pretty badly on my prospect list, I think he'll have great performances at Montgomery and Durham this season, maybe even enough to earn him a couple September starts with the Rays.

RAYSTALK (Jessica) : Jonny Gomes is a talented young outfield prospect caught in a system of talented young outfield prospects.  He likely will see some major league time
this season, somewhat dependant on injuries.  However, there is a reasonable possibility he may never get his big chance in the Rays organization.

ROCC SAYS (Jake) : Orvella will be more of a breakout player than Gomes, though I do see Lou giving Gomes 1 final shot at a spot sometime this season.

RAYSBASEBALL (Jay) : Hitting in the mid-250 (in AAA in a great hitter's park) means a 230-240 average in the majors - he needs a ton of walks and a ton of power to make up for all those strikeouts.  I compare him more to Hee Seop Choi than Adam Dunn, and Choi is with his third team in 2 seasons.  Most managers just don't like a low BA, Lou being one (notice the talk of Danny Bautista in the #3 spot this season).

RAYSTALK (Sam) : With the trade of Jose Cruz, a slow start by Alex Gonzalez probably means that Huff heads back to 3B and Gomes and/or Gathright gets an extended look-see
in the bigs this year. Cross your fingers ...


Delmon Young has been named by several outlets as #1 prospect in all of baseball. What is his path this year? Will he start at AA like Upton did last season with a chance to make it to the big leagues by end of the season?

Z-RAYS (Jim) : I think Young will get to Durham by July and see a few at-bats in September with the Rays. So far the organization has been relatively patient with him, I don't expect him to be in the majors before rosters expand.

RAYSTALK (Jessica) : Delmon Young will likely start out the season at AA.  I don't expect him to make his big league debut until at least September and more likely next season.

ROCC SAYS (Jake) : AA to Majors by late July, I could see Delmon skipping AAA outright and going to the majors. They considered it with Upton last year, but didn't think that he was ready yet. However, Delmon is hands-down better than Upton was at his age and will be ready for the Majors by July. AAA is known for having less top-notch pitchers and doesn't really serve as an upgrade for him. He'd get bored of AAA after 2 weeks.

RAYSBASEBALL (Jay) : He'll get off to a slow start in AA, get hot as the temperatures rises, and make his major-league debut on September 19th in the Trop after helping the Bulls to a AAA playoff crown.

RAYSTALK (Sam) : That's exactly how I hope it pans out.  D'Mitri's little bro starts the year in AA, tears it up big-time, and gets a nice cup o' coffee in August and September, in which he proves himself well enough that he'll be the early favorite for the starting job in RF when we get to Spring Training next year.


Tell me about the minority Owner Stuart Sternberg. Is it true he may be the majority owner some time soon?

Z-RAYS (Jim) : All signs point to that but you never know what the Raccoon Man will decide to do. We may start seeing some pressure on Naimoli to step down soon and similar things might go on behind the scenes as well. I think he?ll be gone before the 2007 season.

RAYSTALK (Jessica) : We never learned much about Sternberg. It has been suggested that Namoli doesn?t want too much information to be leaked out. Nonetheless, Rays fans can only hope he does take over before Crawford and Baldelli become free agents.

ROCC SAYS (Jake) : I've heard that he'll take the reins by the end of next season, but he may do that after this season, if we're lucky.

RAYSBASEBALL (Jay) : If there is a god in heaven....

RAYSTALK (Sam) : I don't know if it means anything, but in my last issue of The Sporting News, Ken Rosenthal specifically named the Marlins, A's, and Devil Rays as teams that DEFINITELY ARE on the verge of getting new ballparks and/or new ownership. Now, I haven't heard anything about replacing the Trop, so I'm gonna take it that Rosenthal is talking about Stu Sternberg. And I like what I'm hearing there.


When the kids are ready, will Lou still be the manager. Could this be the last season with Mr. Piniella?

Z-RAYS (Jim) : I think there will be enough improvement with the team and hope from Sternberg coming in that Lou will be convinced to sign a one-year extension at some point. Sternberg and whoever he brings in as a GM will probably be satisfied with keeping Lou for 2007 to maintain stability but if it is indeed a sabermetric-minded GM then he?ll probably want his own manager in there soon enough.

RAYSTALK (Jessica) : For one thing, it?s pretty obvious Lou has turned this club in the right direction. For another, he is a Tampa native. I think he will stick around for a few more years.

ROCC SAYS (Jake) : I don't think that Lou will go, unless he chooses to leave. However, Stu may have his eyes on a different manager when he's in charge. Also, we've got so many kids, who knows how many years it will be until all of them are up here.

RAYSBASEBALL (Jay) : It wouldn't surprise me if he's gone by midseason. This wasn't the right team or the right time for him (at his age). He's a great manager in my opinion and has gotten alot out of the past two teams.

RAYSTALK (Sam) : I don't know about Piniella. I'm trusting him less and less as time goes by. But he's got a lot of room to redeem himself in 2005, and he can start by taking advantage of Baldelli's injury to see whether any of our young stars-in-the-making are ready to contribute. Will Sweet Lou remain with us after this season? I'm not making any bets.


It does not seem the D-Rays use much sabermetrics in evaluating players. What statistical metric could the D-Rays pay more attention to in evaluating players?

Z-RAYS (Jim) : I know it?s cliched but they need to pay more attention to On-Base Percentage. Although a lot of things have to be considered when evaluating players, just one stat won?t do it, OBP is the single most important offensive statistic. As my favorite Moneyball quote says, OBP is the probability that a batter won?t make an out. Although it can be skewed by extra innings or winning as the home team, at the beginning of each game a team should assume that they will have 27 outs to work with. If they can?t do what they need to do within those 27 outs then it?s over, you can?t get any of those back. In 2004 everyone except for Aubrey Huff and Tino Martinez was relatively easy to get out. When all but two of your players make an out at least 67% of the time those 27 outs are going to disappear pretty quick without you getting anything done.

RAYSTALK (Jessica) : I think the Rays put emphasis on power numbers. I think they should look more at slugging and on-base percentages than they do.

ROCC SAYS (Jake) : Why wreck a good thing, I don't see many problems with the types of prospects we have.

RAYSBASEBALL (Jay) : LaMar's biggest deficiency is his decisions surrounding major-leage level players. His reluctance at using empirical data has hurt him and this franchise a great deal.

RAYSTALK (Sam) : For the hitters OBP, and for the pitchers BB/9 and K/9. Both for pitchers and hitters, the Devil Rays as an organization need to be putting more emphasis on the strike zone. Teach the kids the strike zone because that's where baseball games are won and lost. With all the talented young athletes we have in our system, if you teach the pitchers that it's important to throw strikes and teach the hitters that it's important not to swing at balls, then this franchise is headed for a Golden Age.