Lobby of Numbers: Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Thursday, June 30 2005 @ 05:00 PM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

There are two things we need to remember about the Devil Rays:

1. They've only been around since 1998.

2. They suck, and they always have.

A couple of years ago, they beat the Blue Jays regularly. This year, they've been giving the Yankees fits. The rest of the time... oh, let us not speak of it.

Accordingly, it's somewhat difficult to single out the best players on a team that so seldom has anybody who's actually any good. You can actually count the number of legitimately good players this team has had on the fingers of one hand. So we have invoked a new Emergency Rule for the Devil Rays - if the player achieved something of distinction elsewhere...hello, Mr Boggs... well, we're going to take it. We really can't be too fussy here.

1 - Well, Rey Sanchez spent a year as a semi-regular.

2 - Randy Winn spent five years in Tampa Bay, and as soon as he became a solid offensive contributor he was off to Seattle.

3 - Quentin McCracken hit .292 with 38 doubles for the first year D-Rays. That's still the third best single season for doubles.

4 - The Ice Man, Gerald Williams hit .274 with 21 HR and 89 RBI for the 2000 team; it's one of his very few decent seasons.

5 - Rocco Baldelli is an appealing player, and while his offensive game to this point consists more of promise than actual performance, he is still just 23 years old.

6 - John Flaherty gave Tampa Bay the best years of his life - or at least five of them, and he did a solid job as the number one catcher in 1999 and 2000.

7 - They haven't yet assigned this to a player. Bench coach John McLaren is wearing it now.

8 - As backup catchers go, Mike Difelice was not bad, especially in 1999.

9 - The Devil Rays signed Chris Gomez after the Padres released him in June 2001, and he soon took charge of the shortstop position for the next year and a half.

10 - He couldn't make enough contact to stay in the majors, but Jared Sandberg did hit 18 HR in 2002.

11 - The choices are between Geoff Blum and Jason Tyner. Blum got into more games.

12 - He's going to the Hall of Fame, no questions asked, and Wade Boggs was wearing a Devil Ray uni when he got the 3000th hit of his career.

13 - Carl Crawford. It's tough to overlook Miguel Cairo. Well, not that tough, even if Cairo did a solid job in Tampa. Crawford, at this point, is still more promise (and blinding speed) than actual performance. But any 22 year old who can hit .296 with 11 HRs against major league pitching has a chance to be special.

14 - Toronto fans should remember Dave Martinez, who at least was a bonafide major leaguer. Unlike Jason Tyner.

15 - David Lamb, who played 55 games in 1999.

16 - Dwight Gooden started 8 games in 2000, and won a couple of them. Also admitted under the Emergency Rule provision.

17 - Joe Kennedy could beat the Blue Jays like a drum. The good news: he got traded. The bad news: he went to Colorado.

18 - A minor mystery: Ben Grieve had hit 55 HR with 190 RBI in the two years before he came to Tampa Bay. Something in the Tropicana Dome seems to have drained that talent right out of him.

19 - Aubrey Huff is a legitmately good player. He holds the franchise career records in most counting categories, as well as the single season record for BAV, RBI, and HR (tied with Canseco).

20 - He actually wore number 13 for two years, and this number only in 1998. But at least Miguel Cairo doesn't have to take a back seat to Carl Crawford here.

21 - In 671 at bats with Tampa, Bubba Trammell hit 33 HRs, and drove 107 runs. In their wisdom, Tampa let him spread that production over three seasons because... oh, who the hell knows.

22 - He was only around for one year, but Jose Cruz gave the Rays one of his typical seasons. He drew a few walks, hit a few homers, did a good good job in the field.

23 - He's not a star, but Julio Lugo does give you a little pop from a middle infield position. Still fending off B.J. Upton and clinging to his job.

24 - Ryan Rupe started more games than any other pitcher in team history. Which also means he lost more games than any pitcher...

25 - He wasn't bound for glory, but Russ Johnson had one useful year off the bench.

26 - Atlanta released Tony Graffanino in April 1999 - the Devil Rays signed him and he played quite well in Tampa. This didn't persuade them to give him any playing time - they traded him for Tanyon Sturtze. Unless something dreadful happens, Scott Kazmir will claim this one.

27 - Rick White went 2-6 in 1998, but at least posted a decent (3.80) ERA.

28 - I thought Steve Cox might eventually amount to something, and take over at first base when McGriff got old. Guess I was wrong.

29 - Fred McGriff is a Hall of Fame quality player who actually played very well in his three plus years in Tampa. Has the franchise career records for BAV, OBP, and SLUG. He was the first Devil Ray to hit .300 and drive in 100 runs.

30 - Rolando Arrojo went 14-12, 3.56 for the first year Devil Rays, still the best record posted by any Tampa starter. By far. It is the only time a Tampa pitcher has posted an ERA below 4.00 (minimum 162 IP).

31 - Also in 1998, Tony Saunders struck out 172 hitters while going 6-15, 4.12 - it's still the team strikeout record.

32 - Albie Lopez won 26 games over four seasons, which is good enough to tie him for second place on the all-time list.

33 - Jose Canseco was around long enough to hit 34 HRs in 1999, which still stands as the single season record. He had 31 homers by the All-Star Break that year, then missed a month with an injury and hit just three more after returning in late August.

34 - Um, Herbert Perry hit .254 off the bench in 1999...

35 - We really need B.J. Upton to step up here.

36 - Mark Guthrie had a passable year out of the pen in 2000.

37 - Well, Seth McClung went 4-1 in 12 games in 2003.

38 - Future historians and scholars will surely ponder the mystery of why Lance Carter ever got to go to an All-Star Game without actually buying a ticket.

39 - He's a proven closer and a two-time All Star: Roberto Hernandez notched 101 of his 320 career saves in Tampa Bay, and his 43 saves in 1999 is the team record.

40 - Doug Waechter still has a chance to become something. Pitched a CG shutout in his first ML start in September 2003. He is just the eighth Tampa pitcher with a shutout...

41 - The Mets had three great starting pitching prospects in the mid 1990s, and famously destroyed them all. Bill Pulsipher never did amount to anything; Jason Isringhausen eventually emerged as a fine relief ace. And Paul Wilson, the very first player taken into the 1994 draft, began to rebuid his career in Tampa in the late 1990s.

42 - VACANT.

43 - The man who has pitched in more games than any other player in franchise history is ...Esteban Yan. He's also third in saves, and tied for second in wins.

44 - Naturally, the Devil Rays got Paul Sorrento just in time to watch him decline into ineffectiveness. They compounded this bad situation by trying to turn him into an outfielder, after a useful career spent entirely as a platoon first baseman.

45 - Very few pitchers have posted winning records in Tampa Bay, so the 14-5 mark posted by Jim Mecir deserves a lot of respect. They traded him to Oakland for...

46 - Jesus Colome who has an amazing, electric arm. Although he doesn't actually know how to pitch. He was wearing this a few years ago. When he had promise.

47 - Victor Zambrano is probably the best pitcher in franchise history. He has the most wins and strikeouts, and actually posted a winning record (35-27) in Tampa.

48 - Dave Eiland won 6 games over three seasons, which is 6 more wins than the other two guys who wore it.

49 - The Devil Rays were the fifth organization to take a look at Tanyon Sturtze - they stuck him in the rotation and got an 11-12 season out of him. He followed that up by going 4-18, which was hard to take even by Devil Rays standards. He finally seems to have found a role in the Yankees bullpen.

50 - Terrel Lowrey had a decent year, by Devil Ray standards, as a fourth outfielder in 1999.

51 - Trever Miller in 2004 was a better LOOGY than Steve Kent in 2002.

52 - He doesn't get much respect - well, what the hell, he's John Halama Lama Ding-Dong. But he has actually had a respectable career as a LH swing man, and last year he had a winning record (7-6) in Tampa Bay, which as we all know is very hard to do.

53 - Bobby Witt started 32 games in 1999, and went 7-15. He was a pretty good pitcher once - actually, around 1990, he seemed on the verge of emerging as a truly great pitcher, but a shoulder injury in early 1991 derailed that train.

54 - Jeremi Gonzalez went 6-16 in his two Tampa seasons.

55 - Rick Gorecki went 1-2 in three starts in April 1998, and was never heard from again.

As for the numbers beyond: well, they made a movie about Jim Morris (63), Bryan Rekar (56) pitched more innings than anyone else in team history, and Travis Harper (58) is still around absorbing frightful poundings from time to time.

When the Lobby of Numbers resumes - I'm going to take a little break - we're going to change leagues and coasts. We'll be going to the National League West. That means Dodgers and Giants, people, and I think I need to rest up and gather my strength before tackling those two...