Wednesday, July 25, 2007
A Completely Worthwhile Proposal
Photo courtesy Chricket Go Queek Queek
I love the AL East. I really do. Despite my hatred of the Bombers, it's great that they exist. I am in love with the Red Sox. Always have been. I have nothing but love for the Blue Jays. I think it's cute that the Orioles still field a team. I harbor no ill-will for them, either. In general, I like their teams from the past and their forthright belief that they deserve a future that Old Man Angelos won't give them.
It's the Devil Rays that kill me*. A more pointless franchise (yes, that includes the Rockies) does not exist in baseball. Possibly in all of sports. I understand the small payroll and young team, but this is the same excuse I hear every year. It just ain't happening for these guys. They are are the AAAA of the American League. THis is not to say that they couldn't compete in a different division that the Payroll Division, but the rules are the rules.
In fact, I'm all for losing the team. There, I said it. Let the Marlins own the nation's wang. Let the transplanted New Yorkers cheer against the Mets in the NL East. However, I am NOT in favor of contraction. This leaves the best and brightest of this young team to the top bidders in the league. Instead, I have a plan to make my beloved AL East all the better. Combine the Orioles and D-Rays**. Then, the cast-offs will find jobs in other markets.
The Orioles are closer than many think to being a threat. I like their starters-- three of them at least. Sure, this wouldn't help their insufferable bullpen all that much, but look at the rest of the league. Boston is all starters (minus Okajima and Papelbon). New York is old and all starters (minus Rivera). Toronto is, well, hurt. Right now, the Orioles could make a respectable later-than-May run at the East with this pitching:
Fossum (Long Relief)
Bradford (Weird arm/lefty guy)
Burres (Long Relief/Spot Starter)
Baez (Roster Spot/ They Paved Paradise...)
So, that's not the strongest set of pitchers, but Bedard has become more consistent, Kazmir could pitch with, you know, pitchers, and actually get better rather than flounder near .500 with flashes of brilliance. Chris Ray could look around him and see a few helping hands and not feel the pressure of the world on his chest, and Reyes has pitched well in the AL in case Ray falls apart.
The lineup, then, could be:
Carl Crawford (LF)
Nickie "The Fish" Markakis (RF)
Mel Mora (3B)
Brian Roberts (2B)
Brendan Harris (SS)
Corey Patterson (CF)
Raul Hernandez (C)
You've got Boom Bitch, B.J. Upton and Iwamura on the bench or you can let Mora go since he's a little older. Either way, I can see that lineup scoring a lot of runs with a combination of speed, youth and rejuvenated power. Plus, you can move Markakis and Patterson up and down the order depending upon who you play.
Though, I have not tried to figure the salaries for taxation, look at who you've dropped. The bulk of the Shawn Camp all-stars (aka AAA pitching staff) of the Rays are gone. The Orioles roster of relievers is thankfully depleted. The dropped crew can try their hands as the new Tampa Bay Devil Rays (affiliate of the Orioles) begin their first season in their rightful AAA league. Or they can try new teams. It's completely up to them. They could make some decent Major-League-experienced trade bait (maybe for a catcher that makes contact on either of these rosters). Either way, both the Orioles and the AL East bolster themselves.
I know it's insensitive to kill a team and devastate a small fan base, especially since they've never had a chance to see their team succeed. Also, admittedly, this is still a fairly weak team. Face facts, though, Tampa Bay has been a place where good players grow to leave and old players go to die. It's depressing to watch their 100 loss seasons and hurtful to know what it feels like when Orioles cry. At least this way, one of the two is competitive without having to try and lure away stars that just want the Steinbrenner or Henry cash, anyway.
* Yeah, I was thinking about this while the two teams played each other last night.
**The only catch? Angelos HAS to sell the team beforehand. I can't have that guy messing up my brilliant ideas.