Taking a bite out of the Crime Dog

The Devil Rays gave some bad news to a group of veterans today. Four recognizable names – Mike Williams, Todd Jones, Fernando Tatis, and Deivi Cruz – were given their walking papers by the worst team in the AL East. Williams had his fill of humiliation last year, when he was named to the NL All-Star team despite a 6.44 ERA at the break, earning him the title “Worst All-Star ever.”

Tatis… well, Tatis has been a bust, huh? It seems like forever ago that he was any good, but Fernando’s only 29 years old. On the other hand, over the past three seasons he’s batted .225/.305/.357, in 208 games.

The other big D-Rays move wasn’t exactly unexpected, but it’s still odd to see: Fred McGriff was assigned to minor-league camp. The Crime Dog is only 9 homers away from 500 in his career, but he’s 40 years old and coming off the worst season of his life. You’ve gotta figure somebody will give him a shot, if for no other reason than the publicity #500 could generate.

A year ago there was a lot of debate about Rafael Palmeiro as a Hall of Famer. Now, with Palmeiro closing in on 3000 hits (and with a decent shot at 600 homers), that discussion is becoming moot. McGriff will be the real test – he very well could hang around long enough to reach 500 HR, but it’s doubtful that will be enough to sway Hall of Fame voters.

McGriff is like mini-Raffy, or something. Palmeiro could end up with 3000 hits and 600 homers, while McGriff is going for 2500 hits (he’s got 2477 right now) and 500 homers.

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