From the Department of I'm The Only One Who's Laughing At This:
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays' official website (www.devilrays.com) has a rather peculiar masthead:
Maybe I'm missing something, but I thought something had to already be built for it to be rebuilt.
They do have a core of new faces that can create a buzz:
- Rocco Baldelli returns from a season-long injury in 2005
- Phenoms Delmon Young, B.J. Upton and Jason Hammel are expected to join the team sometime this year, but probably not Opening Day
- Last year's ROY candidate Jonny Gomes gets to play in his first full season, with a swell chance to hit 30 home runs
But beyond Jason Hammel, there doesn't seem to be too many exciting young pitchers. The rotation of Scott Kazmir, Mark Hendrickson, Casey Fossum, Seth McClung, and Jason Waechter shows promise but to date no results. And the bullpen no longer features Danys Baez or Lance Carter, but Chad Orvella will have a shot at becoming the full-time closer.
The team is definitely under construction. Now it's easy enough to say "Construction? They need work seen only in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition!" True. But rather than signing Ty Pennington, they acquired third baseman Ty Wigginton, so their mind was in the right neighborhood.
But one area on their roster is in dire need of some retooling: Clean up some of the clutter in the outfield. With Baldelli returning, the outfield now has Aubrey Huff and Carl Crawford on each side of him, which makes no room for the lightning-quick Joey Gathright or the previously mentioned Delmon Young. There has been talk of moving Huff to third base or trading him for a pitcher. Either move would make sense.
There's no hope for the Rays this season, except to play the role of spoiler against either the Yankees, Red Sox or Blue Jays in a late-season series. (After all, they did spoil the Indians season in the last week, remember?) But if they can address some of their issues this season, they could be poised to shock the AL East in 2007 when one team in the three-headed beast that is the Yanksoxjays implodes after this season. (And it will happen.)
So keep building away this year, Tampa. Use your tools wisely. Just don't try to cut through any trees with ... a herring.