The Orioles and their big losing streak helped the Devil Rays get out of the cellar but at 31-39, they’re still one of the worst teams in the American League. Not that the Rays don’t have any individual performances.
Carlos Pena would be the biggest one and what a season he’s putting together. I profiled him briefly last month but he just continues to rake. He now has 17 homeruns and an impressive .401 OBP with a 1.066 OPS. Because the Rays aren’t great he probably won’t get much consideration for the MVP but this is one of those inexpensive, productive players who can really make an impact from time to time. You almost wonder if the Rays will trade him and try to get something for him, or whether they’ll try to commit to him long term because he’s only 29.
On the mound, it’s been Josh Shields who’s gotten it done. He’s dropped his last two starts but he still leads the team in just about every pitching category. Then again, Scott Kazmir is starting to get back to his old form and he’s had a string of nice starts.
Still, the Rays will once again be playing for next year as their chances are slim to none. The whole Elijas Dukes thing will have to come to a head at some point and you hope there’s some kind of resolution there. And what’s up with Carl Crawford. He’s not only stealing bases, but he’s driving in runs and he has his best shot at 100 RBIs this season then he has in any other season of his career.
Al Reyes has been a nice surprise and he’s a great example of why paying top dollar for a closer can be a waste of money. He’s striking guys out (36 in 30 1/3 innings), saving games (16) and he’s keeping base runners off base (0.89 WHIP). You can’t ask for much more then that.
Next up is three against a tough Dodgers team. Saturday’s matchup between Scott Kazmir and Randy Wolf should be a good one. Tomorrow it’ll be Andy Sonnanstine trying to get it done in the series opener. At least the series is at home so that games won’t be on really late.
The Devil Rays had the number one pick and they scooped up Vanderbilt pitcher David Price. This wasn’t a huge surprise with all of the hype leading up to the draft so now the Rays just have to work on signing him. It’s just one more gem to drop down into the Devil Rays Minor League system. He was actually drafted by the Dodgers back in 2004 but Price opted to stay in school so the Dodgers loss is our gain. This is a kid who, if he lives up to the hype, will be a number one or number two in three or so years.
In the meantime, the Rays are working on another top five draft pick although they’re on the cusp of a decent season. They’ve won six of their last ten and two in a row. With the team sitting at 26-32 and with the guys they have down in the minors, I’m getting a little excited about this team.
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