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March 24, 2008 at 11:44 pm ET
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Getting Ready For Week One Of The Rayvolution

Next Monday, I’ll be going to my first Opening Day in Baltimore to cheer on our beloved Devil Rays.

(And since I’m going with Smitty, I’ll be able to gloat in person).

Two players who will be keys to this year’s Rayvolution won’t be there. Ace Scott Kazmir won’t be ready, and top prospect “The Dirtbag” Evan Longoria was sent down to AAA Durham on Monday.

These setbacks can’t dim my excitement, nor should there be any doubts in any minds anywhere in Devil Ray Town.

I am rather glad that I decided to cancel my first order from The Rays Index Store and go for the El Gato Del Crimen Carlos Pena shirt instead of The Dirtbag one. It just seems a little more appropriate for the rightfield seats in Camden Yards. The future is now for the Rayvolution, so it’s important that everything I wear to Opening Day be representative of the Devil Rays past and present.

(I also don’t want to buy anything with the new logo since I still have issues with the absurd name change.)

Besides my wardrobe, our Devil Rays still have a huge advantage on Opening Day as we send out co-ace The Master Of The Modified Circle Change James Shields to face second-year righty Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie is being rewarded for accomplishing the herculean task of posting a winning record for the terrible Orioles last year, but hardly belongs in the same sentence as TMOTMCC.

There’s sure to be much speculation about The Dirtbag not being on the Opening Day roster after all the hype, especially that the decision was based on dollars and not baseball.

Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t — but I’m going to give the Devil Rays organization the benefit of the doubt and believe Devil Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman.

To The Times:

Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman acknowledged it was not a unanimous decision but insisted it was the right one and made for the right reason — that the 22-year-old widely projected for stardom needs more time at Triple-A Durham — and not because of any financial implications.

“It’s one of the things of erring on the side of caution,” Friedman said. “It’s focusing on his development, first and foremost. And that was the decision we made in a vacuum, just focusing on Evan himself.”

To The Tribune:

As for the thought that the only reason the Rays would send Longoria down is to delay his arbitration and free agency clock, Friedman dismissed it.

“It’s something that for us is virtually irrelevant in this,” he said. “As we’ve demonstrated with Crawford and Rocco and Shields and Pena, we are committed to signing our good young players long-term. We’ve demonstrated it in the past and will continue to demonstrate it. If and when that does happen, it would render that irrelevant.”

The organization may be being overly cautious with Longoria, but I do see how it may make sense to take the pressure off the boy wonder and wait until late May to bring him up.

There’s been a lot of gloom and doom talk about starting the season with a Kaz-less rotation of TMOTMCC, Garza, Sonnanstine, Jackson and Hammel — from such leading literary luminaries as Professor Pessimism (“car wreck”), Devil Ray Guevara, Jacob Larsen and R.J. Anderson.

As good as Longoria will be, I can’t see him being that crucial of a difference maker the first two months. As long as our Devil Rays can stay somewhat competive though, a late May callup might be a huge shot in the arm. We are talking about a franchise that has shown in the past that it can climb back into a playoff chase after a slow start.

There is no reason for pessimism. Our Devil Rays should get off to a fast start nonetheless because after the first week on the road in Baltimore and the Bronx, our Devil Rays play 17 of their next 19 at The Trop.

And not only will I be bringing the home field advantage to Baltimore for Opening Day, I’m also headed to two of the games in the Bronx next weekend. Of our 11 April road games, 5 will be in Baltimore. Sounds like a recipe for a winning April to me.

The Rayvolution will not be delayed.

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One Response to “Getting Ready For Week One Of The Rayvolution”
  1. CubfanRaysAddict says:

    Thank you for the optimism! Aybar can get a .345-.360OBP while Longoria ruins a bunch of AAA pitchers dreams for a month or two down in Durham, he will mean one win at most during that time period, we should be more concerned about Floyds K rate, Gomes ability vs. RHP, and Joe Maddons glasses frames. Jamie Shields will hold his own against any current AL East #1 and Garza will give Traschel a run for his money (insert huge sarcastic LOL)

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