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Devil Rays season wrapup

By Compiled by MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 1, 2000


Notables

Fred McGriff got his 400th homer and 2,000th hit in the same weekend, topped his team record with 105 RBI, and joined Frank Robinson as the only players with 200 homers in each league.

The Power Alley quartet of Jose Canseco (since waived), Vinny Castilla, Greg Vaughn and McGriff through Saturday had 70 homers and 250 RBI (105 by McGriff).

The Rays posted a 43-40 record from May 31-Aug. 31. But they were 16-34 before that and 9-18 since.

The Rays lost 10 straight from Sept. 9-22.

Steve Trachsel scored back-to-back 1-0 wins over Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez.

The Rays scored their first-ever sweep over the Yankees.

John Flaherty broke up two no-hitters in five days.

The Rays recorded 10 walk-off wins and lost nine games on the final pitch, including three on one brutal road trip.

Pitching coach Rick Williams was fired after eight games.

Gerald Williams hit the first pitch of the first game of the season for a home run.

Five good things

THE ICEMAN COMETH: With 21 homers, 89 RBI and a .275 average for a $2.5-million salary, Gerald Williams could be MLB's bargain signing of the year.

FELIX THE CAT: Slick-fielding shortstop Felix Martinez, claimed off waivers from Philadelphia and promoted after the release of Kevin Stocker, made the biggest difference of any one player.

YOUTH WAS SERVED: Though it wasn't in the original plans, Rays got a good look at promising prospects such as Aubrey Huff, Toby Hall, Travis Harper, et al.

FOR EVERY ACTION . . .: Albie Lopez's move to the rotation was almost an act of desperation. Turns out, he might end up being the No. 1 starter the team sorely needs.

THE GRASS WAS GREENER: The catwalks still make Tropicana Field something of a, umm, novelty, but FieldTurf proved to be a success that could spread throughout sports.

Five bad things

HIT SHOW: Rays will finish last, or close to it, in a dozen key offensive categories. Like "new" Coke, some ideas are doomed from the start.

TONY SAUNDERS' COMEBACK: Courageous pitcher did everything he could to get back from a horrific broken left arm. Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BRAWL GAME: Maybe Gerald Williams had his reasons for charging Pedro Martinez, but the ensuing fracas and attempted retaliation, which led to five Tampa Bay suspensions, was bad news all the way around.

COULD YOU BRING YOUR X-RAYS?: Juan Guzman had a history of arm trouble, and there were whispers of more when he signed a two-year, $12-million deal. Vinny Castilla's three trips to the disabled list and .221 average doesn't make the trade for Rolando Arrojo look too good either.

THAT'S ONE MILLION DOLLARS: With an opening-day payroll of $64-million, the Rays averaged nearly $1-million per win. Probably not Vince Naimoli's idea of cost efficiency.

Five weird things

RAYS WIN! . . . (13-MINUTE GAP) . . . RAYS WIN!: The Rays began to celebrate victory over Baltimore on May 31, only to be called back on the field when the umpires reversed a call. Thirteen anxious minutes later, they got the "final" out for a second time and celebrated again.

BACK-TO-BACK-TO-BACK JACKS: Rays pitchers gave up consecutive homers on April 21 to Anaheim's Mo Vaughn, Tim Salmon and Troy Glaus in the fourth inning, and again to the same trio in the ninth. It was the first such double triple in 172,236 major-league games.

BAYSIDE, UM, BOMBERS?: Through the first 157 games, the supposedly power-laden Rays hit back-to-back homers once -- when shortstop Felix Martinez and pitcher Esteban Yan (in his first pro at-bat) smacked their first major-league homers on consecutive pitches on June 4 at New York.

DID YOU SEE WHAT I SAW?: The Rays lost an Aug. 12 game to Chicago when umpire Rick Reed called a 10th-inning balk on Roberto Hernandez that never happened. "I made a mistake," Reed said. "Damn right," said Hernandez, who had never been called for a balk in 563 games.

WHAT GOES UP . . .: In a season in which nothing went right, it seemed the perfect metaphor: a seemingly routine fly ball by Seattle's Jay Buhner on Sept. 18 stuck in a stadium catwalk, leading to a ninth-inning run and a 4-3 loss.

Ouch

It was another painful season for the Rays, as they made 16 moves to the disabled list involving 13 players. At one point Wilson Alvarez, Juan Guzman, Jose Canseco, Vinny Castilla and Greg Vaughn -- representing about $32-million in payroll -- were on the disabled list at the same time.

Revolving door

The Rays went through a team-record 52 players. Here's a quick look at the more prominent moves:

Traded/released/waived -- Acquired/promoted

Kevin Stocker -- Felix Martinez

Dave Martinez -- Aubrey Huff

Jose Canseco -- Russ Johnson

Dwight Gooden -- Dwight Gooden

Mark Guthrie -- Mark Guthrie

Rick White -- Paul Wilson

Bubba Trammell -- Jason Tyner

Jim Mecir -- Jesus Colome

Steve Trachsel -- Brent Abernathy

Todd Belitz -- Travis Harper

Herbert Perry -- Ozzie Timmons

Tony Graffanino -- Tanyon Sturtze

Marc Valdes -- Tony Fiore

-- Toby Hall

Quotes of the season

"I don't want to predict a number of wins, but I'd be real disappointed if we don't make a run (at the post-season)."

-- Vince Naimoli, managing general partner previewing the season

* * *

"I'm tired of all the excuses. I'm tired of the pouting. This ain't day care. Nobody in here is a babysitter. Let's go. Nine innings. Every day."

-- Greg Vaughn, in the midst of the 10-game losing streak

* * *

"I feel like I (need) Prozac or something when I walk through that door."

-- Vaughn, on what he said is a depressing and negative clubhouse atmosphere

* * *

"I hope the first team to celebrate in here is us."

-- Larry Rothschild, after Rays prevented Yankees from clinching the AL East at Tropicana Field

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