Feedback: Ray of light amid darkness

Everyone knows that the Devil Rays have been the worst team in baseball in the first half of the season. There's no debating that. But in some of your responses, we found that there are still optimistic fans out there in Tampa, who see good things in the future for the Rays. Here are a sampling of your responses:

Give us three years...
Yes things have been terrible so far, but we are almost purged of the binge that was the winter of 2000. If we can get something for our veterans, so much the better, although I personally would like Fred McGriff to stick around to try and help Ben Grieve and some of the others. A wise head that's seen it all before is always an important asset, no matter what he may fetch on the market. If we have any luck at all, we may have a respectable team next year, and one that could challenge in 3.

Nicholas Murray
Tampa, FL

The key to the Rays is patience and trust in their talent judgment rather than jumping from one hot hand to another in the vain attempt to increase attendance by garnering a few extra wins now. I think there are a number of major league starters on this roster right now who should contribute for the next 5-10 years: Cox, Abernathy, Huff, Grieve, Wilson, Rupe, Kennedy and Rekar. They may also have some useful bullpen pitchers, such as Phelps, and some other players who may surprise, though I would not count on it, such as Winn and Tyner. At high level minor leagues, there are some players showing promise. The big question is are they being taught to play baseball, or are they simply relying on tools. If the latter, if they never learn plate discipline, for example, then all is lost. Hamilton may be big, fast and strong, but that does not mean he can play major league baseball, and he never will if he is not taught properly. There is no evidence the Rays are doing that, which is worrisome.

Bob Rittner
Spring Valley, NY

The main goal of the D-Rays should be on focusing on their future so Tampa can have a team in the years to come. The D-Rays should concentrate on pitching and try to lure young free agents to the beautiful town of Tampa. McCrae is a good coach to build around and Tampa should give him a shot to stick around. Keep him as a mainstay and then build with youngsters. Tampa deserves a franchise and instead of signing aging sluggers with their money, they should get some young pitchers and maybe an ace, like the braves in the early 90s.

Bradenton, FL

...And now for the negative
First-half MVP: We don't have ANY MVP's.

Biggest Surprise: The fact that 13,000 (including myself) come to watch these guys play ball (well, we will call it "playing ball").

Biggest disapointment: General Manager Chuck LaMar. It's too bad we didn't "stick with the plan." Why did we sign Vinny Cash-stealer again?

Second-half goals: Win enough games so we don't break the Mets record for most losses in a single season.

Minor-leaguer to watch: Everybody from Double-A ball down.

Grade: I believe that goese without saying.

James Dragon
Englewood, FL

Hey! At least the weather is nice.

Timmy Metevelis
Cleveland, OH

I think the Devil Rays are a terrible team and orginization. They have claimed that they have been planning for the future from the start yet they are holding on to their old players like McGriff and Vaughn when they should trade them for prospects while they can still get some quality prospects for them. If they wait untill the offseason or next year trade deadline then no one will want these washed up players. They have "planned for the future" by signing Mcgriff, Vaughn, Canseco, Guzman, Alvarez, and Boggs, after their prime. Since they are in last place anyways they should give their younger prospects more time to play like Carl Crawford, Tyner, Huff, and maybe even Hamilton. It will be a long time in the cellar for the Rays before they gain any respectability. Even Tampa, a city that loves baseball won't come to the ballpark to watch the Rays. I live in the bay area and I would rather watch the Clearwater Phillies or the Dunedin Blue Jays than the lowly rays because I see the same "quality" teams plus I get free hot dogs.

Jimbo Samson
Palm Harbor, FL

A few more Rays of light
You missed out on another surprise contributor, probably the biggest surprise of all. Travis Phelps is the lowest drafted player in major league history to make it to the show. He has had some good outings against top teams like the Yankees, and has four saves on a losing team. He is a huge overachiever who I played high school baseball with in a town of 500 people. He deserves some recognition for his efforts to help baseball's worst team.

Chris Dee
Monet, MO

Sure got all the negative stuff out in the open. They have two releivers that will be sought after by contenders. Doug Creek and Travis Phelps. They both have done a B+ job out of the pen for a very weak team.

Mike Mosa
Simi Valley, CA

Poor Crime Dog
Fred McGriff should demand a trade to a contender and play for a contending team. He will provide a spark just like he did for Atlanta in '94. Fred is the most underrated player in the history of the sport.

Johnny Anderson
Zebulon, GA