The Rays, With a Dash of Garza, and a Hint of Percival.
Maybe I am in the minority here, but I don’t mind the Troy Percival signing. After research, and well thought out arguments within my own mind, I don’t see that this will backfire too much. After all I have read, and all I see, the Devil Rays do not look as though they will be serious contenders until the year 2010. They threw $8 million dollars at an injury prone reliever for two seasons who may only be decent. But they addressed one of their needs with the signing of Percival, and another with the acquistion of Matt Garza.
Statistically, the Rays had the absolute worst bullpen in the American League. And the bullpen didn’t show much promise any other way one looks at it, whether on paper, or from a blimp overhead. What they did in signing Percival, was take a chance. While Linebrink is under contract for four years with the White Sox, Percival is only in Tampa for two, and will be gone before he has the chance to absorb funds from a contending team. Percival is old, and he is expensive. But if they did not have the available funds then they wouldn’t have signed him, I am learning that well as rent is due today. And he may not have been the first choice, maybe they went after Linebrink, or another free agent reliever, but could not get them to come play in what is not the most attractive of destinations. The destination may have been a little more attractive if it is Percival perspective though, as he is 38 and possibly looking to live where the sun is shining more frequently.
And from a different perspective the Percival signing shows signs of caring. An organization that hasn’t given much to the fans in the past, just signed a veteran, and is trying to address a serious problem. And that problem is that the bullpen could not get outs. Percival will help that bullpen if he stays healthy. That is an "if" and I know, but again, he will not be hindering the Rays from competing, as they will not be good enough just yet. If he adds a few wins, he adds a little enjoyment to the few lives of actual fans that are in Tampa. It was about a little more than just throwing too much money at a veteran, injury prone reliever. And I cannot stress enough that it is still fairly low risk because of the length of the contract.
Tampa not only had the worst "Bullpen ERA" in the AL, they also had the worst "Team ERA," and were 13th in "Starter ERA." They were pitiful all around. So they went out and traded Delmon Young who has a heck of a lot of potential to get what could potentially be a number two starter in Matt Garza, and should be no worse than a number three (although it is all just projection at this point).
So they now they have a legit front-end of the rotation, a few decent bullpen arms, and a young, talented offense that will only get better. It is a shame that they couldn’t have traded Baldelli for a young starter a year or two ago, but they didn’t and they had to part with someone in Delmon, in order to get someone in Garza. But with the acquisition of Garza, and the signing of Percival, I see an organization that is trying to give the fans something decent to watch until they are able to be serious contenders…in 2010.