The two deals the Devil Rays (I refuse to call them the Rays; they will always be the Devil Rays no matter what they try to call themselves) made last night show that they are still committed to winning in even after losing key pieces this off season. There have been a lot of articles praising the moves, and I agree, these two additions could keep the Tampa offense relevant this year.
What they lost:
Tampa’s lineup took a hit in the off-season losing Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena. Last year Crawford put up a line of .307 AVG, 19 HR, 90 RBI, .356 OBP, .495 SLG and .851 OPS. Pena also put up decent numbers last year, (.196, 28, 84, .325, .407, .732).
Their departure is huge. The Devil Rays have to replace their production and they have started to by signing Damon and Ramirez. Let’s look at what they got in these two players.
What they got:
Manny Ramirez, in 90 games last year, put up pretty good numbers (.298, 2, 42, .409, .460, .870) and will do the same in Tampa. Johnny Damon, in 145 games, put up good numbers too (.271, 8, 51, .355, .401, .756) and the combination of these two players can arguably make up for the loss of Crawford (with the exception of speed and general athleticism) and Pena.
So, they made up for Crawford and Pena, what does this mean fantasy wise?
By adding Manny as a DH, it allows for another legitimate power threat in the Devil Rays line up behind Evan Longoria. He will more than make up for Pena’s departure and will hit for a higher average. In fact, if Manny hits in front on Longoria, it will force pitchers to actually pitch to Manny rather than pitch around him. Also, by just using him as a DH, literally all he has to do is focus on his favorite thing: hitting. Finally, he is back in the AL East, where he knows the parks and the pitchers.
This is the same for Damon who returns to the AL East after previous stints with the Red Sox and Yankees. He is also important to the Devil Rays and actually had more doubles (36) than Crawford did last year (30). While I am not putting Damon and Crawford on the same level offensively (because there is no way Damon can touch Crawford in terms of ability), hitting in front of Longoria will also let him see more pitches and will score more runs. In short, these two players still have some value. Damon is a better buy because he brings more to the table (like some speed and not being a space cadet) than Ramirez, who will hit for power but not much else. What is also important about these moves is that it protects Longoria, maintaining and even raising his fantasy value.
Do these moves make the Devil Rays playoff contenders? I say yes. I think with the combination of their young pitching and their now pretty good offense will allow them to hang with the Sox and Yanks. Damon and Ramirez will be a major part of their playoff push and will get the playing time to make them more than an after thought in fantasy leagues.