2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays Baseball Preview
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays (61- 101) have had one constant—a lack of starting pitching. That will be the same in 2007. The fact is despite the energy of new ownership and leadership the Rays have not made one major move in the off-season to improve the team.
The proven pitching starts and stops with fastballer Scott Kazmir (10- 8, 3.24 ERA), who had won 10 games by last season’s All-Star break and then didn’t win another game in 2006. Lefty Kazmir, 22, is still young, but he’s also had shoulder problems. The rest of the starting rotation includes RHP James Shields (6-8, 4.84 ERA), LHP Casey Fossum (6- 6, 5.53), RHP Jae Seo 3- 12, 5.39 ERA) and RHP J.P. Howell (1- 3, 5.10 ERA). The bullpen situation would be funny if it wasn’t so scary.
The DH for Tampa Bay, Jonny Gomes, hit .216 last season with 59 RBI and 20 homers in 117 games. Jorge Cantu (.249 AVG, 62 RBI, 14 HR), who had an off year in 2006, may also DH due to his poor fielding. Most of punch comes from outfielders Rocco Baldelli (.302 AVG, 57 RBI, 16 HR), Carl Crawford (.305 AVG, 77 RBI, 18 HR), and Delmon Young (.317 AVG, 10 RBI, 3 HR).
Defensively, the team was tied for 12th in fielding at .981%. Baldelli is a run-through-the-wall-to-make-great-plays centerfielder and Crawford and Young are sound in left and right respectively. New third baseman Akinori Iwamura won six gold gloves in Japan and is the promise in the infield.
Manager Joe Maddon knows what he’s doing, but he doesn’t have a lot with which to work. GM Andrew Friedman and owner Stuart Sternberg say they are committed to making this club better but it doesn’t look like they’re willing to spend the money to do it.
Look for more of the same this year. There will be some standout performances but overall fans will get a team that’s last or near last in hitting, pitching and fielding. Wait until next year?
For more info on the Devil Rays check out the MLB official page for Tampa Bay baseball.