Saturday, April 4, 2009

Lineup Against the Wall: Tampa Bay REDACTED Rays

The Tampa Bay (Satan, Beelzebub, Old Scratch, Dick Cheney) Rays surprised the living holy hell out of everyone in America last year--well, me, anyway--when they made it all the way to the World Series, where they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies but proved that they actually were a legitimate threat to the power structure of the AL East.

They have some of the finest young talent in the bigs, including a young third baseman who I, probably stupidly, probably extraordinarily stupidly, probably lying-insensate-in-coma-eating-protein-through-tube stupidly, held as my keeper in the fantasy league we HoGsters share--instead of Big Tex, who I'd had for like four years in a row. We'll see how badly that hurts my chances of repeating, but right now it looks like I've done gone and blowed it. Anyway, let's get rollin' after the jump...

The REDACTED Rays have long been a haven for shittiness and laziness, including a late-period Wade Boggs and a disinterested Lou Piniella. They played in front of crowds of dozens, in a "city" with such a strong love of sport that it only recently discovered football was, in fact, played professionally.

But not now. Take a look at this starting lineup:

Catcher -- Dioner Navarro
First Base -- Carlos Pena
Second Base -- Akinori Iwamura
Third Base -- Evan Longoria
Shortstop -- Jason Bartlett
Left Field -- Carl Crawford
Center Field -- B.J. Upton
Right Field -- Matt Joyce
DH -- Pat Burrell

Starting Pitchers:

James Shields (R)
Scott Kazmir (L)
Matt Garza (R)
Andy Sonnanstine (R)
Jeff Niemann (R)

Relief Pitchers:

Dan Wheeler (R)
Jason Isringhausen (R)
Grant Balfour (R)
Joe Nelson (R)
J.P. Howell (L)


Troy Percival (R)

Bottom Line: They have, as I said above, a surfeit of young positional talent. There are GMs who would chew their fingers off to get players like Longoria, Pena and Upton. Their pitching staff isn't too shabby either--Shields and Sonnanstine could both take a huge step next year, and there is depth. The bullpen isn't as exciting; Wheeler is a solid vet, Izzy is just old and there is no way on God's Green Planet that Troy Percival has anything left.

Projected Finish: 3d in the AL East