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Devil Rays: First Look
Posted by Gus Papadopoulos at 1/18/2007 10:12:00 AM
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Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times recently drafted a preview of the Devil Rays as they prepare for spring training, including this projected batting order for their season opener at New York on April 2:

1. Rocco Baldelli CF
2. Delmon Young RF
3. Carl Crawford LF
4. Ty Wigginton 1B
5. Greg Norton DH
6. Jorge Cantu 2B
7. Akinori Iwamura 3B
8. Dioner Navarro C
9. Ben Zobrist SS
Scott Kazmir P

In case you're wondering, Jonny Gomes, B.J. Upton and Elijah Dukes are all projected to make the Opening Day roster, but to be on the bench for the opener. However, if Gomes is healthy after season-ending shoulder surgery, you've got to figure he'll get regular playing time at either DH or first base. Also, if Elijah Dukes ever gets his act together (a big "if", especially after his arrest earlier this week for marijuana possession), he could easily shoehorn his way into regular playing time as well. As for Upton ... Zobrist's presence on this lineup card is a continued reminder of how little the Rays think of Upton's defense.

Having said all that, if one replaces Norton with Gomes or Dukes, this might be the most talented lineup in franchise history. Note Delmon Young's spot in the order; that's a great spot in which to put up good numbers. Pitching is another story, however.

(Article at )


Maybe it's time to bite the bullet and stick Upton in the outfield. It'd be a shame to waste that athleticism, but there must be a way to get his bat in the lineup.

You also have to figure that once Gomes is ready, he'll be in the lineup.

The big money question is when the Rays are finally going to deal Baldelli to make room for Upton or Dukes in the outfield. It seemed like they received some pretty good offers of pitchers, but they're holding out -- is it a gamble that will pay off?
Posted by bscwik at 1/18/2007 12:03:00 PM
Baldelli to Florida for a guy like Anibal Sanchez just makes too much sense for both clubs for it to actually happen I guess. It's clear that Upton's future lies in the outfield considering they have Iwamura and soon, Evan Longoria. That tells you what they think of Upton as a third baseman, let alone a shortstop.

The D-backs did the right thing with his brother and moved him to CF right after drafting him. It's about time the Rays did the same. I think Upton with his athleticism and cannon arm could make an excellent centerfielder. With his on-base skills, he should be the team's #1 choice to lead off as well.

Worst case, let Upton DH until he proves in practice that he can handle flyballs.
Posted by vtadave at 1/18/2007 12:09:00 PM
Baldelli for Sanchez makes very little sense for the Marlins...
Posted by ESiegrist at 1/18/2007 4:34:00 PM
Because they have a great CF already and no pitching?
Posted by vtadave at 1/18/2007 8:42:00 PM
I'll just be honest and admit I completely missed the fact that Norton hit 17 homers in 294 at-bats last year.
Posted by spianow at 1/18/2007 8:48:00 PM
RE: Norton ... we both know enough not to bet on that happening again.
Posted by sixsigmagus at 1/19/2007 6:35:00 AM
Because they could get more for Sanchez.
Posted by ESiegrist at 1/19/2007 6:50:00 AM
Could be, but I doubt it. Baldelli is exactly the guy the Marlins should be pursuing. He'd fill a huge need in center field, that is, unless they really think Alex Sanchez is the solution to their CF woes. I guess I'm just not as sold on Sanchez as some. He certainly put up a nice W/L and ERA, but a 76:42 K:BB is going to catch up to a guy eventually. May as well sell high.

It probably makes more sense however to deal Willis, but right now I don't see them considering that. The Marlins have a ton of pitching in their minor league system, but most are at least a year away, so perhaps the timing isn't right.
Posted by vtadave at 1/19/2007 8:20:00 AM
I don't see the Marlins getting more than a Baldelli-type (both for his offense and defense) in exchange for Sanchez. Fantasy leaguers don't often account for a player's defense when evaluating a major league deal....but, its a significant factor, especially for CF.

The Marlins should have jumped at the chance to move Sanchez for Baldelli....unless, of course, they want to move D-Train for more.
Posted by catman2051 at 1/19/2007 10:14:00 AM
While the Marlins may have offered Sanchez for Baldelli, there are rumors in the Tampa area that the Rays wanted _Willis_ for Baldelli. If true, that means the Marlins-Rays trade talks probably lasted a lot less in real life than they have in the rumor mill.
Posted by sixsigmagus at 1/19/2007 12:02:00 PM
I agree with Dave in that I think Sanchez is a perfect sell high candidate. They may be able to get more for him like Erik said, but I think Baldelli is a good target for them. The question mark is his health. Willis for Baldelli is an entirely different issue. I think they can get more for the D-train than Baldelli.
Posted by schwang2u at 1/19/2007 3:49:00 PM
Sanchez was a top-shelf pitching prospect who hit the ground running in the majors at the age of 22, with a drop in his K rate that's a concern but not completely out of line. Baldelli is a good, but not great, young defensive CF with an injury history who has trouble getting on base and whose developing power stroke would probably get muted in the Marlins' ballpark.

Sanchez is a much more desirable commodity than Baldelli, in real baseball terms, even if you set aside that Rocco's not a good fit offensively on the Marlins. Sanchez is a "sell high" candidate only if you're a TINSTAAPP hardliner. This is not a kid who came out of nowhere and had a surprisingly good year, this is a kid predicted for superstardom who's done nothing yet to disprove those predictions.
Posted by ESiegrist at 1/19/2007 4:23:00 PM
I am fully aware of Sanchez' credentials, as well as Baldelli's. While you and others may sit there and rant about how great Sanchez is or may be, I see him as a young kid who came into a dumphole division, and put up some decent #'s, though not great, who may end up being a #3 starter someday at best. If he were really superstardom material as some say, his K/BB and WHIP rates would certainly be better than they are(and not likely to ever improve as he ages) and someone who's ERA would take a significant rise if dealt to the American League.

Furthermore, with the Marlins being stacked with young pitching, you have to use these assets to improve the rest of your roster. I really don't think you go after Baldelli thinking about his power stroke, but more as a young CF who can hit for average, and play a good defensive center field when he's healthy(which you need in that park). I would say the Marlins need a young CF more than they need Sanchez. Could they got more than Baldelli? Sure, but who else is available that would significantly better? It's defintitely an area they need to address, regardless.
Posted by schwang2u at 1/19/2007 10:53:00 PM
Gosh, I didn't realize I was ranting.

Sanchez in 26 Double-A starts: 155/43 K/BB, 10.84 K/9, 1.245 WHIP. Based on his minor league track record, last year was what happens when he *struggles* a bit... but since I see you've already decided his numbers won't improve as he ages there's no point continuing that conversation, really. But if the argument is "the Marlins need a CF more than they need pitching" it would apply equally well to Willis, right? Why is one trade OK but the other not?

I don't know which household pet of yours Sanchez ran over, but I hope you get over the loss some day.
Posted by ESiegrist at 1/21/2007 2:23:00 AM
I haven't decided anything regarding Sanchez' #'s. Proven history says that most starting pitchers #'s rarely improve with age, and I believe you know enough about baseball to know this. The only difference I have with Sanchez is that he isn't as good as you make him up to be. That said, D-train likely won't be around there after this year anyways, so I guess it really doesn't matter who they deal.

"Based on his minor league track record, last year was what happens when he *struggles* a bit.."

What's your excuse gonna be next year?

Posted by schwang2u at 1/22/2007 1:37:00 AM
"Proven history says that most starting pitchers #'s rarely improve with age..."

I'm late to the party, but I can't let this slide by. I can't possibly agree with this - many, if not most pitchers, improve beyond their rookie season numbers.
Posted by Erickson at 1/29/2007 2:21:00 PM

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