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Tampa Bay optimistic about 2004

The Devil Rays are not as improved as many people are saying and will likely fall short of 70 wins.

Updated: April 2, 2004, 9:58 AM ET
By By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
As you can imagine, I get up pretty early in the morning to write the MLB Insider so that you can crack it open as soon as you get settled into your desk at work. Because of that, it was no great hardship for me to hoist myself out of bed for the 2004 opener featuring the Yankees and Devil Rays from Japan, televised on our own ESPN2. I do have to say I could get used to watching a ballgame every morning while I work on my column. That's selfish of me, I know. For most of you, the five (or four, three or two) AM wakeup call is a hardship of untold proportions.

Anyway, as I write this, the Rays are looking like a wrecking crew in this game, but no team looks better than it does after a good performance on Opening Day. Don't believe the hype, though: the Rays are not as improved as many people are saying they are. The weight of the talent in their division and the starting rotation they are throwing out there are not going to be enough to carry them over 70 wins. I hate to deliver a cold slap of reality in the face of a young hopeful, but I'm thinking it's going to be another mid-60s victory season for them this year. This would make the seventh year in a row they have failed to make it past 69 wins. In spite of that, owner Vince Naimoli has given his general manager, Chuck LaMar, a two-year contract extension. In conjunction with that, he had this to say about his GM: "I'm very pleased. We've always had a plan here to build a championship club and Chuck LaMar has been our chief architect."

Man! Don't you wish your boss was that delusional about your performance? Don't you wish you had a supervisor who wasn't all hung up on petty annoyances like "outcome" and "success" and "good decision making?" What a sweet ride life would be then, hey?

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