Obviously there is a void when it comes to objective team season previews and Devil Rays information on the internets.
Since no one else will, I will fill this void by previewing the 29 other MLB teams and comparing them to our beloved Devil Rays, in anticipation of the 2008 season which is sure to be the greatest in Devil Rays history….
Working backwards through the final Bugs & Cranks Top 30 rankings, we begin with The Pittsburgh Pirates….
Argument #1: The Plane Crash Test
It goes like this: imagine planes filled with the entire rosters of both teams were to tragically crash, say in the midst of a mercy mission somewhere in Central America, killing all aboard.
Quick: name the people you would miss.
Devil Rays: TMOTMCC James Shields, EGDC Carlos Pena, Scott Kazmir, BJ Upton, Troy Percival, Akinori Iwamura, Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, Cliff Floyd, Al Reyes. (10)
Pirates: Doug Mientkiewicz. (1. Unless you don’t want to count him since he was only signed to a minor-league contract, in which case, 0.)
Seriously. Am I missing anyone?
Would you miss Freddy “$18 million” Sanchez? Do you know who Freddy Sanchez is?
You wouldn’t miss him. Just like you wouldn’t miss their best offensive player, Xavier Nady, or Jason Bay or Adam LaRouche.
Or Tom Gorzelanny. Or Ian Snell.
Maybe they’ll reach their full potential once they leave Pittsburgh. Just like Jason Kendall and Kris Benson did.
Argument #2: Let’s compare offseasons.
Our Devil Rays added free agents Percival and Floyd, and traded for Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza. They also signed El Gato Del Crimen Carlos Pena and The Master Of The Modified Circle Change James Shields to long term deals. I’d still like to see them pursue one more high-profile free agent to upgrade at DH, but they have definitely made solid moves to improve the club.
The Pirates did nothing. Well, besides the blockbuster deals with Mientkiewicz and Sanchez.
Perhaps the Pirates were wise to sit pat for now. They seem to be in a similar situation as the D-Rays were a year or two ago; with so many young and unproven players, there’s not much point in throwing money away on free agents until you have a better idea of what you’ve got. Not that any decent free agents would want to come anyway. The major difference is that the Pirates are in such a terrible division they might fluke their way into at least a playoff chase, whereas the Devil Rays will need to win at least 90 games just to have a chance at the AL Wild Card.
Here’s an awesome quote from my new favorite Devil Ray, Troy “Aeneas” Percival, that further illustrates the difference between these two clubs:
Percival said the primary reason he spurned an offer from the Yankees to join the Rays was the potential for success, similar to what he saw in signing with Detroit three years ago, and noting how the Tigers made the playoffs the next season.
“You get a team like this, they’re hungry for a reason to believe in themselves,” the veteran closer said. “You look at the Yankees and they’re obviously a much more experienced team, a very talented team, but this team I’ll go talent-for-talent with anybody if we can get them to believe in it. That’s something that I relish, getting the opportunity to come here with young guys and say, ‘Look, go position-for-position with them,’ and we can do that. There’s not many teams out there that we can’t go position-for-position with.”
I’m pretty sure there weren’t any 4-time All Stars with a World Series ring turning down the Yankees to go to the more talented Pirates this winter.
So, it’s as clear as the difference between the bright edenic sky of St. Petersburg and the dark fog of coal smoke blocking the sun from the beleaguered populace of that tawny Jacksonville of the North that is Pittsburgh, that for now these two organizations are in very, very different places. And it is equally clear that compared to our Devil Rays, the Pirates ain’t shit.
Only meeting of 2008: Friday June 27 to Sunday June 29: Devil Rays @ Pirates.
Coming soon to Your Team Ain’t S#!t Compared To The Devil Rays….
On Deck: #2 The Houston Astros
In The Hole: #3 The Florida Marlins