April 4, 2007
RAYS OF LIGHT:
Tampa Too Talented To Be This Bad for This Long (TIM MARCHMAN, April 4, 2007, NY Sun)
So why should you, the Yankees fan, care about this wretched crew? Why would I urge those among you who can swing it to leave the office at noon, catch the train up to the Stadium, and get the best tickets the city's finest scalpers have on offer? Simply this: For all the horrors that have beset the team's player development system, the Rays have as obscene a collection of young talent as has existed in my lifetime. Upton, Dukes, and Young are playing in the major leagues, and they're far too talented not to expect that everything that's gone wrong for them will, 10 years from now, be anything more than vaguely remembered urban legends attached to the early careers of a lot of swaggering superstars. They aren't even the best young players on the team. Carl Crawford hits and runs like Jose Reyes, and Rocco Baldelli crushed the ball into the gaps and ran like a horse last season after not having faced live pitching for a year.
The Devil Rays, as a franchise, may be an ongoing tribute to sheer, voracious expansionism without purpose; some among their players may uniquely embody everything risible about the modern athlete, and the Rays' indecisive, cavalier treatment of teenagers who entrusted their careers to them may be infuriating. But none of this is anything new. You might even have said it of the Mets 20 years ago, when their obscene collection of young talent looked little different from what the Devil Rays' does today.
Baseball is played by teams with fish on their aquamarine jerseys, the modern athlete is risible in direct proportion to how much more thoroughly covered he is than his equally risible antecedents, and this whole, young lot is going to be facing Andy Pettitte in his return to the Bronx. It will be raw, lively talent and instinct against craft and hard-won experience, and the spectacle of some of the game's brightest futures taking their trial by fire. It will be baseball fully worthy of opening week.
Given Baldelli's propensity for getting hurt and Dukes for getting into trouble, it would make sense to trade them for pitching and start trying to win now. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 4, 2007 7:07 AM