Sunday, June 12, 2005


In February I glanced at the Devil Rays schedule. My eyes locked onto the weekend of June 10-12, when the lovably Rays descended upon PNC Park to quarrel with the similarly-plagued franchise - the Pittsburgh Pirates.

But on Saturday night, my season-long anticipation and excitement was greeted with one of the most lopsided sporting events ever attended, and the Pirates disected the Devil Rays and revealed a plethora of flaws.

By the fifth inning, I was sitting in my rain-soaked seat in misery. Was this what I waited months for? Is this the team I abandoned the Yankees to root on day in and day out? Is this organization really paying Eduardo Perez and Nick Green doctor-like dollars to play baseball like Tim Tassa?

Sadly, the answers to the above questions were all yes, and I watched in horror with four friends as the Devil Rays dropped their 40th game of the season. They are - without a doubt - one of the worst baseball teams I've ever seen at the professional level. They are poorly assembled. They have no life. They have very little talent.

The 18-2 thrasing was one of the most difficult losses to take in my time as a sports spectator. That said, I had a great time, mostly conversing with McNeil as each Bucco run crossed the plate. I likened my not-so-smooth transition from the Yankees to Devil Rays to breaking up with Angelina Jolie for Rosie O'Donnell. And we all know Rosie isn't turning into Angelina in less than a year.

McNeil and I discussed a number of the players on the field. Below are some of my non-expert scouting observations.

Scott Kazmir - The obvious first choice as the starting pitcher. I quipped to Drew after the game that, oddly enough, I left more impressed with Kazmir than before I came. He's just electric with his stuff, routinely topping his fastball at 95-97 mph, and a hard cut slider that helped strike out 7 Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. He didnt locate his pitches well and it got him in some trouble, but most of his earned runs could have been prevented with even adequate defense. He reminds me of Oliver Perez when he was with the Padres. At 21 years old, this kid is going to be the real deal, and nights like these will be few and far between.

Chad Orvella - Mentioned as a potential future closer for the Devil Rays, I just don't see it. He doesn't have great stuff, and the Pirates pounded him worse than Kazmir.

Aubrey Huff - Maybe the most disappointing player on the field. I'm convinced he was on the juice. He doesn't have power anymore, and he's noticably slimmer. He's one of the worst rightfielders I've seen in person, and looks lethargic at the plate. Hopefully the D'Rays can move him.

Eduardo Perez/Nick Green - They are just pathetic. I can't believe they actually get paid to play baseball. Perez is a joke, and Green is a minor league lifer.

Oliver Perez - Wow. I mean, the Devil Rays are one of the poorest lineups in baseball, but that doesn't mean that what Perez did wasn't impressive. Drew called for seven innings and 10 k's, and Perez did just that. His stuff was similar to Kazmir's, but he didnt leave any pitches up in the zone and got several double plays to help him out of jams. As long as his body holds up, he'll be good.

Ryan Doumit - This kid can rake. He may not be able to play great defense at C, 1B or OF, but he can rake. Second game in the bigs and he bats clean-up for a hot-hitting team, and reaches base 5 times and drives in 3. Drew was wise to use his waiver-wire spot on Doumit, as McNeil also put in a claim for the switch-hitter. If he plays everyday, he could hit 10-15 homers the rest of the way.

All right, thats all I got for now. Hopefully the final 102 games for the D'Rays are a little better - but this team needs to be scrapped and let the young guys of Upton, Young, Gathright, Gomes, Neimann, etc., to come up.


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