Ok Tampa fans, it’s time start panicking. It’s April 27th and our Rays are already 5 games under .500 and look like they couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat. The NFL draft just passed and our Bucs took a quarterback in the first round who will most likely serve as the third string quarterback this year for a rebuilding team. The way things are going, 2009 could be a very long sports year for this town.
The Rays obviously have a long way to go but they could definitely use a spark. Bringing up David Price and Matt Joyce might be a start, but if they continue to struggle at the plate, they’re going to need to make a trade to acquire a reliable bat. With Price, Wade Davis, Mitch Talbot, etc. down in the minors, we have the ability to trade one of our proven pitchers and pick up a big time bat. I’ve read some articles lately saying that the Rays should deal Scott Kazmir. I couldn’t agree more. Kazmir is a very good pitcher, but he will never be more than a #2 or #3 starter on this team. You will never get better trade value for him in my opinion than you would right now. Plus, you would bring up David Price and you wouldn’t even miss a beat. The bottom line is the Rays need to do something. They need a big time bat and they need it now. The laid back wait and see attitude isn’t working at the moment and they need to make a move to shake things up. If they don’t do it soon or they might find themselves in too deep of a hole to dig their way out of.
The Bucs have a very different set of problems. They are clearly in rebuilding mode which is what makes the Josh Freeman pick so perplexing. The Bucs have so many holes they need to fill (i.e. DE, DT, LB, WR, CB) and quarterback was not on the top of that list. Luke McCown may or may not be the future of this franchise, but how will we know until he plays? He is at least serviceable and could keep the franchise above water for a while. Why not just wait until next year when the QB crop looks to be very deep, and you probably will have a much higher draft pick? The Bucs needed to draft a Defensive playmaker with that pick and they didn’t. Instead, they took a guy who has all of the things scouts love like size, arm strength, and “upside”. All of those things are great, but did they forget that he didn’t really put up good stats in college. He was 35th last year in total Quarterback rating. That doesn’t seem too bad until you realize that he played in the Big 12, a league notorious for bad defense, and that there 9 Big 12 QB’s with a higher Quarterback rating than Freeman. This was the equivalent of a five tool baseball player going to college and hitting .270 with 9 home runs. Would he be drafted in the first round and be considered a franchise player just because he has upside? I don’t think so. At some point you have to say if this kid hasn’t picked it up by now, it might never happen. I watched the draft with a couple of friends this weekend and when the Freeman pick came in the reactions went anywhere from “wow, I can’t believe we took that guy” to “I’m burning all of my Bucs stuff”. I don’t think those were the reactions the front office wants to hear. I hope I’m wrong and Josh Freeman turns out to be a Hall of Famer. I just think it was too risky of a pick for a franchise that can’t afford to miss on first round picks.
So again Tampa Bay fans go ahead and panic. I just hope the Rays and Bucs front office start feel the urgency it’s too late.