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No. 29 Tampa Bay Devil Rays


In Focus: Ben Grieve
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Offseason acquisition Ben Grieve represents the future of the Devil Rays. Start
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2000 Record: 69-92 (5th in AL East)

The Devil Rays experiment last season with a power hitting veteran lineup was a failure. This year the team is going with some prospects, but it still may be a couple of years before they start winning.

One bright spot may be the rotation. Last year's projected one and two starters, Wilson Alvarez and Juan Guzman -- who made just one start between them, are expected to be back from injuries. Plus, Albie Lopez, Bryan Rekar and Paul Wilson helped the starters post an AL-best 4.52 ERA from June through September of last season.

Veterans Vinny Castilla, Fred McGriff and Greg Vaughn are back in a lineup that was out-hit, out-homered and outscored at home for a third straight season. A key to changing that is a big season from Ben Grieve, who came over in the Roberto Hernandez deal.

Putting the young power hitter In Focus shows he will have to work on discipline to really help the D-Rays. The former AL Rookie of the Year hit 27 homers in 2000, but led Oakland with 130 strikeouts, and led the AL by grounding into 32 double plays.

The Devil Rays are headed in the right direction, but it will take time to turn things completely around. I rank them as the 29th best team in baseball.



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