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Predicting 2006: Tampa Bay

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Continuing from where I left off Monday morning, here is the Tampa Bay portion of the article.

First impressions: Jonny Gomes is the real deal, and Tampa should not attempt to deal him like they tried in July. He's farther along than Crawford and Baldelli, yet they attempted to trade him. I don't know what Eduardo Perez is eating for breakfast these days, but as long as he keeps hitting in the role he's been given I guess he won't hurt. Travis Lee needs to go; his good NRAA score comes entirely from a fluke Rate2 score of 114 (he is much closer to 100 other years) that inflates his value. Lugo is a good option at shortstop if B.J. Upton doesn't mature enough defensively to take over that spot. Carl Crawford needs to either hit more homeruns or walk more (or both would be nice). He is not a superior defensive player, even with his speed, and his offensive game is still not where I would like it to be at. He is below average right now, as hard as that may be to believe for some.

Jorge Cantu (-2.48 NRAA) = Second best offensive threat on the team + worst defender on the roster. If his offense improves than the D-Rays have themselves a pretty good player. As of now he's a less harmful version of Alfonso Soriano.

What I didn't show is what B.J. Upton and Delmon Young are capable of adding to Tampa Bay's lineup. I feel like they could each contribute 17 MLV defensively over the course of 150 games in their rookie years, and should (if Upton can play the outfield) put up basically league average Rate2's. With that in mind, they would both have NRAA scores of 11.33; not earth shattering, but positive contributions that add depth to a roster missing just that. Where are you going to fit both of them though? Here's my 2006 Tampa Bay lineup, assuming both players are promoted:

1. Julio Lugo (SS)
2. Carl Crawford (LF)
3. Jonny Gomes (RF/1B)
4. Aubrey Huff (DH)
5. Jorge Cantu (2B)
6. B.J. Upton (3B)
7. Joey Gathright/Rocco Baldelli (if healthy enough, CF)
8. Delmon Young (1B/RF)
9. Toby Hall (C)

Whoever is a better defender between Delmong Young and Jonny Gomes should patrol right field; the other should move to first base. Aubrey Huff should stick to DH, because he doesn't have defensive value at any position. Jorge Cantu or B.J. Upton might have to steal the DH position from Aubrey Huff eventually, but remember I'm discussing the beginning of 2006, not August 1st. They have one more year of his contract, and it would be in their best interest to move him for whatever they can get for him at this point (unless they think they draft pick would be worth more than the trade). There is no room for him in the lineup if it is to be at its most effective, so moving him is imperative.

Tampa's rotation....sigh. Kazmir is much better than his PRAA/9 shows here, mostly due to his second half excellence as compared to his mediocre first half. Casey Fossum is a realiable #3 guy since he seems to have ironed out some problems, but he is the #2 here. The problem is everyone after these two. Dewon Brazelton has been knocked around past the point of recognition in both the bullpen and the rotation (probably because of Tampa's actions moving him back and forth). Mark Hendrickson doesn't impress. Seth McClung has impressed, but sometimes when he pitches you hear the sounds of chaos. For those who don't know, chaos sounds like babies screaming, mothers weeping, and men gnashing their teeth all at once. Some of these sounds are so terrible, if I were to repeat them you would flee from this website in horror! Yup, thats what some of his starts are like to watch. And Doug Waechter...well he should only start against Seattle (1.99 ERA, 18/4 K/BB, 0.88 WHIP in 22.7 IP). Maybe they should deal Huff for pitching help, and I don't even mean young pitching like Jon Lester. Just a warm body who won't suck.

Edit by Richard B. Wade:

The Equivalent Run system likes the Devil Rays quite a bit more than MLV does.

Player EQRAA Rate2 NRAA     NRAA/G NRAA/162
Jonny Gomes 21.5 93 26.08 0.261 42.24
Eduardo Perez 11.1 103 21.5 0.215 34.83
Travis Lee 5.4 114 19.63 0.196 31.79
Julio Lugo 15.4 107 19.52 0.195 31.62
Carl Crawford 15.4 96 8.42 0.084 13.64
Jorge Cantu 16.3 87 1.05 0.011 1.7
Aubrey Huff 6.3 93 -1.75 -0.018 -2.84
Toby Hall -2.7 99 -3.67 -0.037 -5.95
Damon Hollins 4.9 90 -4.56 -0.046 -7.38
Joey Gathright 1.4 92 -4.89 -0.049 -7.92
Alex Gonzalez 3.3 89 -6.71 -0.067 -10.88
Nick Green 1.1 92 -6.83 -0.068 -11.06