Tampa Bay Rays:
The Tampa Bay Rays have soared this season with an amazing start. Despite being early in the season, the Rays are currently #1 in the AL East division and #1 overall in the American League. The Tampa Bay Rays' incredible offense is led by third baseman Evan Longoria and outfielder B.J. Upton. Longoria has a team-leading 15 home runs and 47 RBIs, while rising star Upton follows with a solid 40 RBIs. Defensively on the mound, the shining star for the Rays is pitcher James Shields. Shields currently has 83 strikeouts in 103 innings pitched thus far in this 2008 season, only his third year in Major League Baseball. The Tampa Bay Rays look to carry their league-leading amazing start towards the pennant race and ending with the World Series Championship. Box office ticket sales are increasing as this team prepares for the impending playoffs.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays haven’t exactly
been the model expansion franchise that the Arizona Diamondbacks
have been. The two teams came into Major League Baseball in the
1998 season and since then the Diamondbacks have been competitive
every year and even won a World Series in 2001. On the other
hand the Devil Ray have been the litmus strip for being a bad
team. They’ve averaged 98 losses a year for their entire
franchise history including two 100 loss seasons. There are signs
of life in the franchise despite their poor performances to this
point. The Rays management brought in manager Lou Piniella last
season who managed the Mariners to a record tying 116 wins in
2001and to four postseason appearances. Piniella is a fiery manager
that will squeeze the most out of each and everyone of his players.
They didn’t capture the American League East crown last
year but the team did seem to play a great deal of inspired ball
that Piniella managed teams are known for. The Rays ended up
finishing in the cellar of the AL East with a 63-99 record but
they still managed to not have the worst record in the AL which
belonged to the Detroit Tigers who disappointed their way to
a 43-119 record.
The Devil Rays aren’t a team in rebuilding mode because there has never
really been anything built there to this point. So the Rays are just in plain
old “building” mode right now. The team is being very deliberate
with trying to stockpile young guys and bringing in a few seasoned veterans to
help the young guys shine. In the off-season they traded for Cardinals first
baseman Tino Martinez who played a big role with the Yankees of the ’90s
that dominated all comers. The team also traded for Mark Hendrickson of the Toronto
Blue Jays. The Rays also picked up free agents outfielder Jose Cruz Jr., shortstop
Ray Sanchez, left handed pitcher Damian Moss, and relief pitcher Danys Baez.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have a few guys on their
team that will be multiple time All-Stars on their roster and
some of them are already realizing their potential. Center
fielder Carl Crawford is one of the few who have stood above
the rest. He batted .281 with 55 stolen bases and 80 runs scored
from the lead off spot during the 2003 campaign. Their big
time slugger is designated hitter Aubrey Huff. He hit for a
.311 average last year and hit 34 home runs and drove in 107
The pitching staff is full of young live arms like
their staff ace Victor Zambrano who is 28 years old. He’s joined in the rotation by Mark Hendrickson, Paul
Abbott, Doug Waechter, and Jeremi Gonzalez. Danys Baez is slated to close out
the 9th inning for the Rays.
The Devil Rays play all their home games at the state
of the art Tropicana Field. The 43,772 seat stadium was features
the “Rays Bullpen Café” that
offers picnic style seating and in-seat service at the park.
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