Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Unveiling....The Official 2005 D-Rays Season Preview: Part 1-The Line-up

After a few days of deliberating, I decided that I should take Jay and Jim's advice and make my own season preview... Here goes nothing.... I've broken every player down into 3 categories(THE STORY, WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT? and PREDICTED STATS/PREDICTIONS)

The Line-Up
1. LF- Carl Crawford

THE STORY:After going the whole offseason thinking that he's gonna be our Starting Centerfielder until Rocco returns and possibly after, Lou drops the bombshell that he's gonna keep CC at Left Field. CC didn't mind it, seeing that Left Field is his natural position.

WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT?: Stolen bases, consistant hitting at the top of the order, triples(Chicks also dig the somewhat longball), bunt singles and Gold-glove Defense. Not much more to say about CC.

PREDICTED STATS/PREDICTIONS: 60 Stolen Bases, 15-20 HRs, 100 runs scored, 70 RBIs, 8 Outfield Assists and a batting average between .280 and .300. I also think that Carl will make his 2nd consecutive trip to the All-Star game. Also, to Rays Fans' glee, he will sign a long-term deal with the Rays.

2. CF- Alex Sanchez

THE STORY: After a 2004 season where the Tigers seen Alex hit for a .322 average, they decided that he wasn't worth keeping any longer. Alex was signed on the same day as Alomar and Bautista's retirements, which many Rays seen as the first few signs of the apocalypse. He was being considered to be our starting LF, then Lou proclaimed that he was going to be our starting RF and this weekend he stated that Sanchez will be our starting CF(his natural position) and most likely bat 2nd in the lineup.

WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT?: Strikeouts, Stolen Bases, more strikeouts and horrible defense. His OBP was only .334 last year when he batted .322, so we shouldn't get our hopes up when we see that nice batting average. Alex is just going to be warming up the seat for Rocco's return and should provide Rocco-like slap-and-hack hitting without the potential for Home Runs.

PREDICTED STATS/PREDICTIONS: 36 Stolen Bases, 5-10 HRs(if we're lucky), .300 Batting Avg., 101 Ks in 82 games(Opening Day til Rocco's July 4th return), 60 Runs Scored, 46 RBIs, 5 Errors, 6 Outfield Assists and 4 Excedrin Headaches for Lou. Alex won't be as horrible as some people predict him to be, but he still will drive most of us crazy like Cruz did last year.

3. RF- Aubrey Huff

THE STORY: We knew going into Spring Training that Huff would be playing a corner outfield position, but we weren't sure which one. The Aftermath of Bautista's retirement ended up with the Rays moving Huff from LF to RF. Huff just wants to stay at one position for the entire season, which has yet to happen in his career. Also, Trades rumors continue to swirl around Rays camp regarding Huff.

WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT?: Think Scott Rolen-Lite, He's got the offensive numbers just not the golden glove. Huff will most likely maintain his golden boy streak of averaging near 30 HR/100 RBI/.300 Batting Avg numbers.

PREDICTED STATS/PREDICTIONS: 34 Homeruns, 120 RBIs, .315 Batting Average, .930 OPS, 50 doubles and about 100 Runs Scored. Expect an eye-opening season by Huff. He's gotten some help on offense and his numbers will show that. However, he will continue to prod at the Front office for offensive support by opening their wallets a bit more. Also, he'll step into more of a leadership type of role on this young team. He'll also let Delmon take over the RF spot when he makes his debut, but will warn him that he'd better produce or he'll take it right back. Could be the other half of the Rays' First All-Star duo of this century...

4. DH/1B- Josh Phelps

THE STORY: After years of being blocked by known hard-hitting players and Ben Broussard, Phelps was one of the Rays top signees of this offseason. He's meant to cure the Rays deplorable DH problems. He's pretty been promised what will end up in a career number of At-bats for him(400+) and some opportunities to play some 1st base.

WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT?: Monster Homeruns and oh yeah, strikeouts. He's always been great against Southpaws and we haven't been given much of a chance to see what he can do against Righties. Lou has been known to improve batters and sluggers, look what he's done with Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner(Thanks Jim). He's also an average fielder and may get a few starts hear and there.

PREDICTED STATS/PREDICTIONS: 38 Homeruns, 90 RBIs and a .274 Batting Average. He'll be a huge surprise to some Rays fans and will show all the doubters in Toronto what they could've had if they would've given him a chance. He'll hit most of these HRs in the 2nd half of the season, which would negate him from any All-Star considerations. He'll be signed to a 2-3 yr. extension late in the season.

5. SS- Julio Lugo

THE STORY: Same old Lugo, nothing new going on with him. Just laying the tracks for Upton's eventual return to St. Pete. He just wants to make sure that Upton is at his tip-top best before he gives him the job.

WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT?: Decent hitting, decent Power, stolen bases and fewer errors. Yup, since his offensive numbers are pretty decent for a short-stop..he'll be able to relax more and his defense should improve vastly from last year.

PREDICTED STATS/PREDICTIONS: A 20/20 season with a .290 Batting Average, 90 Runs scored and 80 RBIs. Oh yeah, he'll end the season with only 14 Errors. The thing is, will he end the season with the Devil Rays? I don't think that he will, just because Tampa feels the need for BJ to play everyday for us and with "The Wiz" helping Upton that shouldn't take long. Lugo will provide to be valuable, nonetheless in our trading of him. He should get us a nice bat or a shiny top prospect. KEYWORD: SHOULD

6. 2B-Jorge Cantu

THE STORY: This past season has been a wild rollercoaster ride for Jorge. He came out of nowhere and launched himself on to the Rays radar in Durham when he hit 20+ Homeruns. Then he impressed the Lou and the Rays enough in St. Pete when he smacked 20 doubles and kept his batting average over .300. Lou guaranteed him a spot on 2005's roster, which Cantu took into mind and continued to smack the ball in the fall leagues. However, the signing of Alomar looked like it would hinder Jorge's progress...yet he took it all in stride. Now, with the retirement of Alomar and the way he's been hitting in Spring Training...he's sure to continue to get better.

WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT?: Doubles, Homeruns, more doubles, decent batting average, some strikeouts, an error here and there and an occasional walk or two. How Jorge does this season is up to him, he worked hard for 6 years in the minors for this chance and now, through a retirement, he has the limelight put on him.

PREDICTED STATS/PREDICTIONS: 24 Homeruns, 75 RBIs, .320 Batting average, 80 strikeouts, 10 walks and 40 doubles. I also believe that Cantu will cement his spot in the line-up for years to come and we won't have to worry about looking or needing a 2nd baseman for many years to come. I also see Cantu signing a 2 to 3 year contract extension.

7. 1B- Travis Lee

THE STORY: Travis left Tampa last year for what he thought were "greener" pastures. Unfortunately, he was proven wrong when he spent most of the season on the DL with a completely screwed shoulder. However, he never burned his bridges and Lou & LaMar were gladly to welcome him back.

WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT?: Gold-glove defense at 1st and an occasional hit or two...

PREDICTED STATS/PREDICTIONS: 5-10 Homeruns, 38-50 RBIs, .275 Batting Average and 1 Gold Glove.

8. 3B- Alex Gonzalez

THE STORY: Hasn't really done much up to this point in his career, spent most of his career playing great defense and short-stop for the Cubs. So it was surprising when Lou stated that A-Gone was our starting 3rd baseman, a spot that Alex has only played for 10 games in his career.

WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT?: Good defense and an occasional game-winning HR

PREDICTED STATS/PREDICTIONS: 10 Homeruns, 40 RBIs, 3 Errors and a .250 batting average. He'll play alot until Upton makes his return and then he'll join a rotating triangle at 3rd and Short-stop with Lugo, Upton and A-Gone

9. C- Toby Hall

THE STORY: Same old Toby, still hasn't been forced into showing his true potential.

WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT?: Decent Defense and shotty hitting...same thing he's consistantly done his whole career.

PREDICTED STATS/PREDICTIONS: 5-10 HRs, 40 RBIs, and plenty of excedrin headaches for Lou and Rays fans. Why, oh why, can't he fix that horrible batting stance? Maybe we can get a decent Catcher out of one of our trades this season...


Blogger Jim Wisinski said...

Great job Jake, looking forward to the rest of it. Sorry I didn't comment sooner, I wanted to write all of mine first so I made sure to write entirely from my head instead of subconsciously stealing things you said. :-D

8:05 PM  
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4:20 AM  

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