As recently as last year, the Florida MLB teams were considered a joke. No one took them seriously and fantasy players didn’t look to those teams for many top flight players. All that has changed.
Devil Rays are playing good baseball and you should get used it. The major change in their organization has been an ownership change (Stuart Sternberg) followed by a new GM (Andrew Friedman) who believes in building from within and keeping that talent. The Rays have a ridiculously large number of stud prospects in the minors and some good, young talent on the big league team. Freidman has done a great job accumulating talent and the ownership group led by Sternberg has done a nice job of signing these kids and keeping building blocks (Carl Crawford) around to be a force in the A.L. East. The Yankees and Red Sox will never quit buying talent, but the rays are building the right way and should challenge the big boys for the next decade.
The Marlins play on Florida’s other coast and are playing just as well. The Marlins have traded away their veteran stars (Josh Beckett, Paul LoDuca, Carlos Delgado, Dontrelle Willis, Miguel Cabrera) for budding, young stars (Hanley Ramirez, Mike Jacobs, Anibal Sanchez, Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin) and have melded them into a good team. Assuming the ownership will pony up the cash to keep these players like they did with Ramirez’s new deal, the Fish could be a contender for quite a while too.
I saw the Rays happening, but I didn’t expect the Marlins to put it together quite so soon. Maybe they will experience some growing pains, but right now they are sailing along. Pitchers on both teams should be taken seriously and could provide wins that weren’t expected to be there on draft day.