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TB Devil Rays Preview
by Matt Fargo - 02/23/2007
#30 Tampa Bay Devil Rays
2006 W-L 61-101
2006 O-U 70-80-12
Itâ€™s difficult for the Devil Rays to compete in the American League East having to go up against the open pockets of the Yankees and Red Sox. However, Tampa Bay isnâ€™t even competing as it seems to be in transition mode every single season. This year looks to be no different as the Devil Rays will rely on young hitting, young starting pitching and an inconsistent bullpen to try and get out of the cellar. Passing the Orioles is a possibility but beyond that, it will be another long season in Florida.
Despite losing 101 games last season, the Devil Rays were not horrible against the money line thanks to some enormous lines they were given. Tampa Bay did drop 18.5 units throughout the season but all of the damage was done on the road. Tampa won a league worst 20 games away from home last season and that showed in its profits as the Devil Rays dropped 29.3 units. At home, they finished a game above .500 and snagged 10.9 units of profit. It didnâ€™t happen often but when Tampa Bay was favored, it was successful, going 15-8 +5.7 units. Really big moneylines did not help as the Devil Rays went 6-21 -7.4 units as a dog of +200 or more.
Because of the horrendous Devil Rays pitching last season, you would think that a lot of the games went over the total but the offense was so bad that the majority of their games stayed under. They got into slugfests in their own division, going 40-33-1 over in the AL East but went 30-47-11 under in all other games. With a team that did not do much in the offseason in any category, we should expect to see more of the same. Tampa Bay totals are likely going to be inflated once again due to the pitching so early on we should see some value.
Tampa Bay scored fewer runs than any other team in baseball, averaging only 4.3 rpg including a woeful 3.9 rpg on the road. This was due to the fact that the Devil Rays finished with a .314 on-base percentage, the worst in the AL by a large margin. If there is any good news for the offense itâ€™s that it cannot get any worse. The infield is in complete shambles but the outfield of Delmon Young in right, Rocco Baldelli in center and Carl Crawford in left has the potential to be one of the best around. Potential is the key word. There is always the possibility of a breakout but until these youngsters can all put it together at once, expect more of the same.
Starting pitching has always been an issue in Tampa Bay and this season will be no different. Scott Kazmir is the ace of the staff and at 23 years old, he has a huge upside. The concern is his durability however as he was shut down early last year due to shoulder problems. After Kazmir, itâ€™s a free-for-all. James Shield and Casey Fossum are the only other legitimate starters, which is not saying much. As for the bullpen, it was the biggest disappointment last season as Tampa Bay was 27th in the league with a 4.98 ERA. Amazingly, the Devil Rays had leads in 121 games last season but lost 60 of those, which set an American League record. Add to the fact there is once again no closer.