Sean Ransom has written the 2005 preview on the Devil Rays. The following statement from the article as harsh as it is, really does give an objective view of what has transpired this offseason.
Instead of building on the progress, however, the off-season thickened the Devil Rays? natural pall of hopelessness. Rocco Baldelli, once the poster child for the Rays? philosophy of team-building through strike-zone-deficient young athletes, blew out his knee in a backyard Wiffleball game. With Mark Hendrickson penciled in as the Opening Day starter, the starting staff could once again be among the American League?s worst. Serviceable players such as Jose Cruz, Jr., have left and new arrivals have been players who couldn?t break into the starting lineups on below-average teams.This offseason was hard to take. I thought when Lou came on board there was finally a vision (for the first time in my opinion). The vision was that they were comitted to going with youth. A perfect example of not executing on this is case A : Jorge Cantu. He showed some pop in his bat for a middle infielder in AAA, then gets recalled and continues with the offensive surge. So, what does the Tampa brain trust do you ask. They consider an array of has been middle infielders before settling for the official "has been" Robby Alomar. A player who if the Rays did their homework was battling back injuries this offseason. Oh by the way, they appoint Cantu as the utility player. That way he can not get better with his bat, he has to worry about which position he is playing today.
It is also true that Baldelli and even Carl Crawford have not shown much plate discipline in their careers to date. This is more a blame to the Devil Rays organization than it is on the players. Its the Devil Rays job to instill this type of plate criteria in batters who come through the system.
The Devil Rays showed poor decision making in bringing Cruz on board from the beginning. He has not been putting up 30 Hr, 100 RBI seasons in a while, and his career has been in regression mode for a while.