A David Price trade is pretty much inevitable; the question is when and with which team.
The reigning Cy Young award-winner could leave Tampa as early as this summer if the Rays fall out of contention, but could possibly stick around for two or even three more years. My guess is that he’s dealt this offseason, but when GM Andrew Friedman decides to pull the trigger depends any many factors.
After mammoth contracts signed by other elite pitchers recently (Zack Greinke, Justin Verander and Felix Hernandez), the Rays clearly won’t be able to afford Price long-term, which is why it’s time for the Rays to search for potential trade suitors.
Here are a few potential trade packages that should be able to pry Price from Tampa Bay.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals definitely have the capability to acquire David Price with the extremely deep farm system that they have.
The question is whether the Red Birds will want to take a huge chunk out of their talented pool of prospects, giving up some depth that they might need in the future.
Their top prospect list is highlighted by phenoms Oscar Taveras and Shelby Miller, but the Cardinals might not need to trade away either of the two in order to get Price. Matt Adams—who’s had a terrific start to his MLB career this season as St. Louis’ first baseman—is one player who needs to be included in this deal.
Right-handers Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha could also both be possibilities, as well as Triple-A second baseman Kolten Wong.
Here are two different Rays-Cardinals trades that I think would be fair:
Price to St. Louis in exchange for OF Oscar Taveras, 2B Kolten Wong and RHP Seth Blair or Price to St. Louis for Wong, 1B Matt Adams and RHP Michael Wacha.
Rangers everyday shortstop Elvis Andrus also inked a massive eight-year extension recently.
Like St. Louis, Texas has a stacked organization that should be able to bring them a superstar even of Price’s caliber via trade. So even if they decide to hang on to Profar, they probably could still put together a deal.
Touted Triple-A slugging prospect Mike Olt has already been subject of many trade rumors this offseason. His high offensive potential is something that should be very appealing for the Rays.
Tampa’s also going to want a high-ceiling arm in the package. Southpaw Martin Perez, another top prospect whose name has come up in multiple trade rumors, is a good fit.
Catcher Jorge Alfaro is one prospect that should be essential for this deal, as the Rays could really use a talented backstop like him in an organization that seriously lacks it.
Again, here are two different trades that might work:
Price to Texas in exchange for SS Jurickson Profar, C Jorge Alfaro and RHP C.J. Edwards or Price to Texas for 3B Mike Olt, C Jorge Alfaro, LHP Martin Perez and OF Roland Guzman.
Yet another organization loaded with minor league talent, the Cubs have a very impressive trio of top prospects to offer in shortstop Javier Baez, outfielder Albert Almora and outfielder Jorge Soler.
Right-handed pitching prospects Arodys Vizcaino, Dillon Maples and Pierce Johnson are all potential pieces to consider in a Price-to-Cubs trade.
First baseman Dan Vogelbach is another player the Rays would like to include in the package. He’s a good well-rounded hitter with great plate discipline and raw power.
Here’s a swap that I think the Rays would go for:
Price to the Cubs in exchange for SS Javier Baez, RHP Arodys Vizcaino, Dan Vogelbach and OF Jae-Hoon Ha.
With the MLB offseason now in full swing, trade rumors around the baseball continue to heat up. With already one huge blockbuster trade made between Miami and Toronto earlier this week, it may not be long before the Rays finally trade someone from their plethora of talented starting pitchers.
James Shields is once again one of the central trade rumor names on the market for pitchers. The veteran right-hander will make more than $10 million in 2013, which is obviously a big dent in the Rays’ very limited payroll. Tampa’s also in search of offensive help, and they’ve made it clear that they’re open to trading away starters this winter, Shields being one of the most likely options.
Plenty of teams would love to add a pitcher like Shields to their rotation, and a few of those teams may have the necessary pieces to get the Rays to trade him away. Here are a few clubs in search of starting pitching who may have what it takes to acquire “Big Game James” this winter.
It seems the Texas Rangers are one team always seeking big-name starters on the free agent and trade market. The Rangers have the players to put together a deal for Shields, but their hesitance to trade away their offensive assets are the reason why they haven’t had any serious trade talks yet.
They have two young and talented shortstops on their roster in Jurickson Profar (considered baseball’s top prospect) and Elvis Andrus, either of which the Rays would love to have on their team. Texas has already considered trading away one of the two, and not many teams could use a solid shortstop as much as Tampa could.
If the Rangers were to attempt a Profar/Andrus-Shields, they would have to throw in a couple more players to complete the deal. Slugging first base prospect Mike Olt is one player that would likely be thrown into the deal plus maybe another outfielder (such as Julio Borbon, Craig Gentry or David Murphy).
If the Rays were offered a deal like this, they’d probably accept, but the real question is whether Texas is willing.
The Minnesota Twins’ saw their starting rotation have a miserable season in 2012, which is why nobody should be surprised to see them pursue rotation help this winter.
With a potential trade package featuring center fielder Denard Span, who’s name has constantly come up in trade rumors this fall, the Twins could probably snag Shields from the Rays. As fellow outfielder Ben Revere emerges as someone capable of taking over Span’s position, they would probably be willing to give him away for a player of Shields’ caliber.
With two or three solid prospects thrown into the mix, the Twins could very possibly bring Shields to Minnesota.
As you’ve probably heard, there’s been speculation recently of the Diamondbacks and the Rays joining for a blockbuster trade that would send star slugger Justin Upton to Tampa Bay. Some have suggested that the Rays trading Jeremy Hellickson and an additional prospect could work, but I believe a flat-out swap of just Upton and Shields could be a possibility as well.
Arizona could really use a pitching boost and the Rays need a bat like Upton’s more than anything.
For small-market teams like the Tampa Bay Rays, the trade market is the key to filling in holes on the roster. The Rays are in desperate need of hitting, particularly a first baseman and a DH, which means they will likely need to trade away some of their excellent starting pitching. Fellow starters Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann are probably more likely candidates to be traded away, but James Shields trade rumors haven’t totally disappeared. With Shields entering his first club option of his contract coming into the offseason, rumors starting heating up since last season’s trade deadline. After Shields was optioned by the Rays back in October, the trade possibilities started to gradually cool down. However, there are still plenty of teams in need of starting pitching help that they couldn’t find from free agency. Trading James Shields seems to be more like ‘food for thought’ at the moment, rather than a serious possibility. There might not be many clubs who are willing to offer enough for Shields, and the Rays themselves may want to hang on to him. The exciting part about a potential Shields trade is that the Rays would get some serious offensive production out of the deal, while hoping that rookie Matt Moore can replace Shields at some point in the future. The question is, what kind of deals can teams offer to make the Rays bite? Take a look at ten different trade possibilities that may be enough to send the Rays’ ace out of Tampa Bay.
If any team is looking to add a big-time starting pitcher, it’s the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto has been in many discussions to acquire a starter since the offseason began, including being barely outbid on Japanese prodigy Yu Darvish. As far as we, the Jays haven’t been looking into a James Shields trade yet. However, it wouldn’t be a shocker if they show interest in him at some point in the future. What would it take to get the Rays to send their ace out of Tampa Bay? Veteran first baseman Adam Lind could potentially be a start to a deal. With the Rays in desperate need of a first baseman, Lind could be a great addition for the club. The left-handed slugger owns a lifetime .267 batting average and has established himself as a consistent 20+ homer-type player. Blue Jays’ No.1 prospect Travis d’Arnaud would essentially be the center of the trade package. The 22 year-old first-round draftee is one of the best position-player prospects in the American League. He hasn’t reached AAA yet, but his .311 batting average with 21 homers and 78 RBI’s in Double-A last season show that he isn’t far from moving up. d’Arnaud is a catcher, which would be his most attractive asset if the Rays were to pursue him. His defensive skills are pretty impressive, lead by his great arm behind the plate. The most interesting part about the possibility of d’Arnaud being traded is that he may not have a bright future in Toronto. Rookie catcher J.P. Arencebia appears to be emerging as the team’s main catcher. Outfielder Jake Marisnick is one minor leaguer you’ve probably never heard of. Marisnick is also considered one of Toronto’s better prospects, and clearly for a good reason. Marisnick has the ability to a be a five-tool outfielder in the majors. The 20 year-old possesses great fielding and throwing ability, excellent speed, and rapidly rising hitting skills. Marisnick hit .320 along with 14 homers, 77 RBI’s and 37 stolen bases through his 118 games in Class A Lansing.
Possible Trade: James Shields to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for 1B Adam Lind, minor league C Travis d’Arnaud, and minor league OF Jake Marisnick.
2011 was another disappointing season for the New York Mets, and poor starting pitching has been a big part of their struggles. The Mets simply need at least one more good starter to become a competitive team again. James Shields would give the Mets’ rotation the boost they need, and they may have some offensive players to offer. Daniel Murphy, a first baseman who also can play other positions around the infield, could very possibly be in the interest of the Rays. As Ike Davis appears to be the future first baseman of the ball club, Murphy probably has a much better job opportunity in Tampa. Former star outfielder Jason Bay just hasn’t been the same in the past two years like he was in his glory days with Boston and Pittsburgh. The slugging leftfielder is still only 33, and many wonder if he can put up the ridiculous run production that he did in the past. Bay’s big bat joins Murphy in the main focus of a potential James Shields trade. However, just Murphy and Bay would still probably not be a good enough offer for the Rays to take. A talented offensive prospect like Wilmer Flores is someone the Mets can throw in there to make this deal possible. Though I would think that it would really be a blow to the team to give away a young shortstop like that after losing Jose Reyes this offseason. Flores, who is the Mets’ top hitting prospect, has a while to go before he hits the big leagues. At just 20 years old, Flores still managed to drive in over 80 RBI’s in a full Single-A season. The youngster is progressing in all parts of his game, but his exceptional hitting skills are what could ring bells in Tampa.
Possible Trade: James Shields to the New York Mets in exchange for 1B Daniel Murphy, LF Jason Bay, and minor league shortstop Wilmer Flores.
The New York Yankees are really one good starting pitcher away from being the best team in the MLB. If the Yanks had a arm like James Shields in their rotation in the last two years, they probably would of won the pennant in both of those seasons. New York is very aware of that, and it’s no surprise that they have been seeking starting pitching this offseason. It doesn’t seem like they’re heading towards any sort of blockbuster trade to get a starter, but they have some young talent that makes a potential swap an interesting idea. Catcher Jesus Montero, who is the Yankees’ top prospect and baseball’s No.1 catching prospect, would be the guy to lead the young trade package for Shields. Montero has very impressive hitting abilities and he is a catcher; something that should obviously attract the Rays. Montero, who hit .328 during his first brief stint in the MLB, has all the tools to become a star slugger in the big leagues. Outfielder Chris Dickerson possibly would be another piece to the trade. Dickerson is nothing special quite frankly, as he spent most of his time with the Yankees down in AAA. The Yankees would need to offer more to make this deal work, and they do have a couple of exciting prospects deep in their farm system. First round draft pick Slade Heathcott and prodigy Mason Williams are two more young outfielders that the Rays would love to add to their minor league system. Both are just in Single-A right now, but their left-handed hitting abilities plus their good defense could be enough to complete a potential trade package for Shields.
Possible Trade: James Shields to the New York Yankees in exchange for C Jesus Montero, OF Chris Dickerson, minor league OF Slade Heathcott, and minor league OF Mason Williams.
The Texas Rangers made it all the way to the World Series in both of the past two years. I think it’s fair to say that starting pitching is what was the difference between a AL Champion Rangers ball club and a World Champion Rangers ball club. Their starting pitching was simply not adequate to prevail on baseball’s biggest stage. The Rangers would surely love to pick up an ace like James Shields, but the question is whether they are able to give away some of their outstanding offense. First baseman Mitch Moreland’s name pops up right away as a player the Rays could definitely use on their roster. The 26 year-old power-hitting lefty is in just his second year in the big leagues, and he already plays the first-base role pretty nicely. Speedy outfielder Craig Gentry had his first year of decent MLB playing time last season, and he could likely be a trade piece for Texas in the future. Gentry is emerging as someone who could be a solid MLB player. His excellent base-running skills and above-average defense are already very impressive, but he’s also improving as a hitter. Don’t be too shocked to see either (or both) Gentry or Moreland be traded away sometime in the future, as Texas may not have too much need for them on their squad. Both David Murphy and Julio Borbon can take over in the outfield, while Mike Napoli could probably fill in at first base. If the Rays were to work out a Shields trade with Texas, they would likely also get pitching out of the deal. With Neftali Feliz and Shields (if they are to make a trade) joining the rotation next season, southpaw Matt Harrison probably won’t have a consistent spot in the rotation, making him another trade piece. The Rays are certainly not looking to add to their starting pitching, but they have been seeking bullpen help throughout the offseason. The Rays would love to use Harrison as an effective left-handed reliever out of their bullpen. Still, I think that the Rangers are going to need to throw in another prospect into the pile to make a deal possible. First-round draft pick Jake Skole, a member of the Rangers’ top 10 prospects, is a thought. The 19 year-old outfielder has plenty of pop in his left-handed bat, which would be a great addition to the Rays’ farm system. Adding Skole as the final player of the trade might be close to enough to pry Shields away from Tampa. Below is the final deal that I think would get Texas the deal.
Trade Possibility: James Shields to the Texas Rangers in exchange for 1B Mitch Moreland, OF Craig Gentry, LHP Matt Harrison, minor league OF Jake Skole, and cash.
First of all, the chances the Arizona Diamondbacks acquire a starting pitcher before spring training are close to none. Even though the D’Backs would like to improve their starting rotation, there are some obvious reasons why a future James Shields trade is unlikely. They already made a big trade for Trevor Cahill earlier this winter, and also used some of their spending money on Jason Kubel. Also, it seems as if rookie first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is making a name for himself in Phoenix. Being a young first baseman, Goldschmidt would probably be the main trade target if the Rays were to discuss trade talks with Arizona. The problem is that the Diamondbacks aren’t looking to give away their future first baseman. What the D’Backs do have to offer is leftfielder Gerardo Parra and third baseman Ryan Roberts. Parra, who won a NL Gold Glove Award last season, is clearly on an upward rise in his three year-old career. The 24 year-old left-hander hit .292 last year and stole 15 bases (caught only once), and was a big part of the Diamondbacks’ successful 2011 season. Ryan Roberts didn’t exactly put up the same numbers as Parra, but he probably should get more credit. 2011 was the best of Roberts’ career, belting 19 homers and 65 RBI’s while batting .249 and stealing 18 bases. You’re probably asking why the Rays would want a third baseman when the have Evan Longoria. The fact is that Robert can actually play at second base and in the outfield. So Roberts could be a fit on the Rays, but in reality the D’Backs would way rather trade away Parra. Two additional top prospects should be enough to make a discussable deal with the Rays. If they were to negotiate a trade, the Rays would probably have a keen eye on both first/third baseman Matt Davidson and outfielder A.J. Pollock. Both sluggers are considered among the organization’s top prospects. Davidson smashed 20 homers and 106 RBI’s in Single-A ball last season, showing off is outstanding power. Pollock spent the whole season in AA Mobile, and batted a high .307 with 73 RBI’s and 36 stolen bases.
Possible Trade: James Shields to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for LF Gerardo Parra, 3B Ryan Roberts, minor league 1B/3B Matt Davidson, and minor league OF A.J.Pollock.
Like the Diamondbacks, the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals also don’t have high odds of a James Shields trade. With the team’s ace Adam Wainwright returning (who missed all of last season due to injury) and the same starters from last year, the Cards’ rotation looks pretty set. It seems as if St. Louis will enter the spring with Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse, and Jake Westbrook. To reel in James Shields to St. Louis, the Cardinals would need to sacrifice much of their talent that they would use to replace Albert Pujols. Right off the top, Allen Craig’s name comes to mind. Craig, who plays in the outfield and first base, batted an impressive .315 average in his second big league season. Craig would probably be someone the Rays would like to add to their roster, but his offseason knee injury could have them thinking otherwise. The Rays have emphasized their focus on strengthening the bullpen this offseason. Considering that, right-handed reliever Fernando Salas could be a player that the Cards could add to the trade package. The 26 year-old Mexican-native posted a 2.28 ERA last season through 75 innings pitched out of the ‘pen. Craig and Salas are a pretty good start to a potential Shields trade, but the Cards would probably need to throw in a couple of high-ranked prospects. 19 year-old phenom Oscar Taveras would be an exciting addition to the Rays’ system. The left-handed outfielder has just started his venture in professional baseball, but he has proven that he can flat-out rake the baseball. Prospect first baseman Matt Adams is also a big left-handed bat. The 23 year-old slugger has some big-time raw power, which he displayed in AA Springfield by smashing 32 homers with 101 RBI’s and a .300 average. With the loss of Pujols, the Cardinals are most likely going to want to get a grip on Adams rather than trade him away. That’s another reason why this trade seems unlikely. The Rays would probably demand a first baseman, and Adams would be vital to a possible deal.
Possible Trade: James Shields to the St. Louis Cardinals for OF/1B Allen Craig, RP Fernando Salas, minor league OF Oscar Taveras, and minor league 1B Matt Adams.
The Colorado Rockies have been aggressively seeking help for their starting rotation this offseason, and have even had interest of Rays pitchers. James Shields would be dream acquisition for Colorado considering their situation. The Rockies’ have two outfielders, Seth Smith and Charlie Blackmon, who would make a a decent start to a deal. The Rockies don’t seem to mind parting ways with Smith, as he has already been a hot topic amongst MLB trade rumors for a while now. Smith had probably his best season of his career last year for Colorado, batting .284 with 59 RBI’s and 15 homers. Rookie Charlie Blackmon would be every bit as much valuable as Smith in this trade. The 25 year-old only has 27 games of MLB experience under his belt, but his great minor league numbers can’t be overlooked. Blackmon played his first season of AAA baseball last year, hitting .337 through his 243 at-bats. It’s debatable, but I think one really good prospect could complete the trade package. Colorado’s No.1 prospect Wilin Rosario is a name that should surely light up eyes in the Rays’ front office. The 22 year-old phenom catcher has all the tools to be a successful big league backstop. Rosario doesn’t hit for a high-average like Smith and Blackmon, but he sure has plenty of power. His great arm behind the plate is also impressive. Rosario spent most of his season in Double-A last year, where he hit 21 home runs with a .249 average in his 102 games. Despite not experience AAA baseball yet, Rosario still earned himself 16 MLB games with the Rockies last season. In his brief 54 AB’s, Rosario was able to knock out three homers and drive in eight RBI’s.
Possible Trade: James Shields to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for OF Seth Smith, OF Charlie Blackmon, and C Wilin Rosario.
A trade for a James Shields would likely put the Detroit Tigers over the top. The Tigers have been seeking a starter to complete a pretty good rotation lead my AL MVP Justin Verlander. I doubt they are looking for an ace-type pitcher like Shields though, but rather a fifth-spot starter. Detroit probably wouldn’t want to trade away a chunk of their young talent, but they have the right players to make a big deal work. Former Ray and outfielder Delmon Young could be a potential trade piece for Detroit. Last season in his first year as a Tiger, Young didn’t meet the expectations that were brought upon him after the blockbuster Tampa-Minnesota trade before the 2008 season. Young did a pretty good job producing runs, but his .268 average was the lowest of his career by 16 points. Also, his RBI total dropped 48 runs from the previous year. All reasons way a future Delmon Young trade is by no means impossible. Rookie outfielder Andy Dirks seems to have a bright future in the big leagues. Dirks played 78 games in his first season last year, batting .251 with seven homers and 28 RBI’s. Dirks holds a career AAA average of .343 (2010 and 2011) with 41 RBI’s and 11 homers through his 63 games in Toledo. Young and Dirks would make up the offensive part of the trade package, but the Tigers would probably also have to sacrifice their No. 1 prospect Jacob Turner. The first-round drafted right-handed pitcher has been surrounded by scout hype for years now. To acquire an ace like James Shields, that would mean giving up a potential future ace like Jacob Turner.
Possible Trade: James Shields to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for OF Delmon Young, OF Andy Dirks, and minor league SP Jacob Turner.
The Washington Nationals have been the center of offseason excitement this winter. They came into the offseason in search of starting pitching help, and may of found their guy when they acquired Gio Gonzalez in a trade. The Nationals and GM Mike Rizzo are definitely not a team that shies away from big moves, but getting James Shields to Washington seems unlikely. If a trade were to work out, the Nats would probably have to send their slugging outfielder Jayson Werth to lead the trade package. The Rays could use his offensive production, and it’s possible he would be a demand in this deal. Even though Werth had an off-year last season batting .64 points lower that 2010, I doubt the Nationals would be willing to trade him. They signed him for a mega seven-year contract last year, and they probably don’t see any reason to give him away while they’re looking for as much outfield talent they can get. This trade possibility is more of a “what if” situation, rather than a trade rumor. Shortstop Ian Desmond and relief pitcher Henry Rodriguez would be the additional pieces to complete the trade package. Ian Desmond would be a very intriguing acquisition for the Rays. It’s amazing how well Desmond could fit in Tampa; he’s an absolute textbook Tampa Bay Rays player. For starters, Desmond is a speedy infielder (25 steals last season) who plays well defensively and does all the little things right on the baseball diamond. He puts his best efforts into the game every night, which was acknowledged when he won the Nationals’ Heart and Hustle Award. These are all traits of a Rays ballplayer. In addition to all this, Desmond was born and raised less than an hour away from Tropicana Field. Henry Rodriguez, the final piece to the potential deal, is a key part of the Nationals’ bullpen. The 24 year-old right-hander was a MLB Futures Game Selection and posted a 3.56 ERA through 65.2 innings last season. As I mentioned earlier in the article, the Rays are still continuing their bullpen rebuilding process and wouldn’t mind adding some relief help in their ‘pen.
Possible Trade: James Shields to the Washington Nationals in exchange for OF Jayson Werth, SS Ian Desmond, and RP Henry Rodriguez.
Just like the Boston Red Sox regular season last year, Boston’s offseason with new GM Ben Cherington has been a failure so far. The Sox have some good starting pitching, but there’s no arguing that they need to improve their rotation. Although the Sox will likely want to sit tight with their rotation for the rest of the offseason, they may have enough young talent to pry Shields from Tampa Bay. Ryan Lavarnway and Darnell McDonald are two interested names that probably would be thrown into a trade for Shields. Lavarnway, who played 17 MLB games in his short 2011 stint, is catcher/DH with outstanding hitting skills. Through 116 games in the minors last season (AA and AAA), Lavarnway batted .290 with 93 RBI’s and 32 home runs. Darnell McDonald, who’s played five seasons in the majors, might not have a future in Boston anyway. The 33 year-old corner outfielder struggled hitting .236 for the Red Sox last year, but hit .270 in 2010. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks is unanimously ranked the top prospect in the Red Sox organization. Middlebrooks has the ability to be an all-around excellent baseball player, which he displayed while making huge amounts of progress in the minor leagues during 2011. Because third is the only position he plays, I’m not sure what kind of future he would have alongside Evan Longoria and the Rays. First baseman Lars Anderson may not be a big name, but he would be a crucial part of this deal. As the Rays are in search of a first baseman, the big left-handed slugger would be an attractive asset in the deal. Anderson batted .265 with 14 homers and 78 RBI’s last season for AAA Pawtucket.
Possible Trade: James Shields to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for OF Darnell McDonald, C/DH Ryan Lavarnway, 3B Will Middlebrooks, and 1B Lars Anderson.
Two days ago, a Cleveland Indians blog called DidTheTribeWinLastNight.com asked me a few questions as part of their Offseason Swap Series. Their goal is to feature five Q & As from every MLB team to feature on their site. Below are the questions DTTWLN asked me regarding the Rays. Click here to view the full link of the post.
Question 1 – The Rays had a great September but couldn’t keep it going in the playoffs. Do you think the energy they used to get into the playoffs was just too much for the rotation and team to handle?
I don’t think this was the reason for their abrupt exit at all. The team they played, the Texas Rangers, simply outplayed the Rays. The Rangers were very ready for the postseason again this year, and proved that they were the champions of the American League. Although the Rays had the advantage in pitching, the offensive production was not even comparable. Texas has some excellent veteran hitters on their roster, including Michael Young (second-highest average), Josh Hamilton (2010 MVP), Adrian Beltre (3 home runs in game 4), Mike Napoli, and more terrific players. What makes Texas such a great club, is they are able to get the clutch hits that the Rays can’t. This is why they were just one strike away from a World Series title. The Rays rotation definitely didn’t choke, they were just met by the hottest bats in Major League Baseball.
Question 2 – Rumors are abound that the Rays ownership is short on funds. Do you have any insight into the teams financial situation?
It’s pretty clear by now that the Rays have financial problems. I definitely do see a baseball future in the Tampa area, but some improvements will eventually need to happen. At the moment the attendance is not adequate, which is the main reason for low income. The media has constantly ripped on Tampa Bay, claiming that the fans don’t deserve the Rays and etc. Popular reasons why the Rays have low attendance is because of bad stadium location, high unemployment rates, etc. These reasons may all be a part of the issue, but everyone seems to miss the biggest reason. Tropicana Field is located near Florida’s Gulf Coast, home to some of America’s most beautiful beaches. There are so many outdoor activities that residents can do from spring to fall. When you think of the other teams that have a similar situation, one that comes to mind is the Marlins. They have even worse attendance. They also know how to win, as they have won two World Championships in their 18-year history. At the end of the day, I think that the Rays need to continue to have successful seasons for their financial issues to improve. The more wins the better, and one World Series title could change everything.
Question 3 – Fans seem to stay away from Tropicana Field in droves. What are the chances we see a new ballpark for this, now, very competitive team in the near future?
The Rays new ballpark is something that would surely help with the financial problems, but it doesn’t seem like something to anticipate for now. Unfortunately, any new stadium for the Rays is at least 3-5 years from any kind of reality. Contrary to popular belief, Tropicana Field is not a low-quality stadium at all. A new stadium, however, would excite sports fans and would get more people to come to the ballpark. Building a brand new stadium also costs money though, a lot of money. And money is the thing that most limits the Rays, and is really not helping this situation. I don’t feel much progress happening now, but it could happen in the future if the Rays feel that they truly need it.
Question 4 – How much longer can the Rays keep battling the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox when they don’t spend big bucks the way those two teams do?
The answer is simple; As long as the terrific farm system lasts. The Rays are built around their great young prospects, and good coaching is what transforms them into quality ballplayers that can play with the big boys. What’s impressive about the Rays young roster more than any other young club, is that they probably make less mental mistakes than the veterans. The Rays have the youngest team but amazingly are able to play the most error-free and clean baseball. Most would think it would be the opposite, but a lot of incredible things happen with Joe Maddon’s management. The Rays unique style of baseball is what keeps them in the competition year after year. When you can’t ever be like a team, don’t try to be like them. How the Rays run their ball club is the true definition of ‘Moneyball’, rather than Oakland’s past efforts that never actually led to any more success than a playoff spot.
Question 5 – What does the 2012 season hold for the Tampa Bay Rays?
I believe that 2012 will be another successful season for the Rays. My prediction is not just purely out of optimism, but the Rays look like they will have a pretty good roster next year. 2011 was a very exciting and memorable season, but the Rays really want to take the next step. Being stopped in the ALDS two straight years by the same team is pretty frustrating, especially after having such impressive regular seasons. The two players that Rays Republic should be most excited about in 2012, are Desmond Jennings and Matt Moore, two phenom rookies with never-ending abilities it seems. Both of them showed that they are ready for The Show after their impressive performances this season. These next few months will also effect the Rays in 2012, as there are some offseason moves to be made. It’s still early in the offseason, and there will probably be more new faces to join the Rays next year. Andrew Friedman seems to know what he’s doing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulls off another great offseason. So far the Rays have acquired a veteran catcher and traded away a young catcher. Still some holes need to be filled in, such as DH and first base. Also, the new MLB playoff format will have an impact on the Rays’ future, maybe more than any other team. In the toughest division in baseball, finishing in third place and making the postseason is great news for Rays fans. It will be pretty interesting how it effects the Rays in 2012 and the following years to come.
For the second straight year, the Rays have lost the ALDS to the Texas Rangers in front of their home crowd. This time it ended in Game 4, with another frustrating loss last night at the same close score of 4-3. So close yet so far, as they say. The Rays just lacked the timely hitting that would of put them in the ALCS both this year and last year. Very bothering to see one player (Adrian Beltre) hit three crucial solo homers in the game and the Rays again coming back late and just falling short.
It’s amazing how drastically the mood of Rays Republic changed in just a matter of a week. Evan Longoria hits the biggest homerun in franchise history, and a week later the Rays are knocked out of the playoffs. I was very surprised in the outcome of the series. Not only that the red-hot Rays lost in four games, but also the games they won and lost in the series. The Rays struck first, destroying Texas’ ace in Arlington and getting boosts from unexpected sources. Game 2-4 featured the Rays core 3 starters, including two games at the Trop. I don’t think anyone would have guessed they would drop all three. Overall, there has been more disappointing days in the franchise’s past. In a matter of fact, last year’s ALDS was more upsetting considering the regular season the Rays had. With a bad beginning and bad ending, 2011 wasn’t such a bad result at all. It will be remembered throughout baseball for many years, just like the magical 2008 run. It was a season of miracles and shock. They may have not went as far as they wanted, but they definitely did something that they should be proud of. And that’s knocking out Boston and stunning Red Sox nation. With their $39 million payroll, the Rays did something great dismantling their pompous rivals and miraculously making the playoffs. For how they did this with such passion, I must say it was a great season.
Maybe the Rays just weren’t ready to go all the way this year, and the third time wasn’t the charm. But with the incredibly bright future they have, nobody can be surprised to see the Rays playing in October next year. The potential pitching staff they have is unmatchable; with Moore, Price, Archer, Hellickson, and hopefully Shields. Today is not a day for Rays fans to hang their heads in disappointment, but rather to remember all the great moments of 2011.
It’s been a fustrating past few days for Rays Republic. Two close losses, and one that for sure could have been won. Let’s start with yesterday’s pivotal Game 3 at the Trop. Firstly, Price was called to start that game over Jeremy Hellicson. To me that makes no sense. Why would Maddon start David (who has struggled this month) for Game 3 instead of Hellickson, who has more rest and is pitching great recently. Although I have great confidence and respect for Price, I just thought that Jeremy would be a better choice for the game. Despite all this, Price didn’t have such a bad outing yesterday. But that leads to another thing that irked me in yesterday’s heart-breaker. I haven’t discussed much about J.P. Howell on this blog this year, but he is definitely a subject of matter in this ALDS. For some reason, Maddon has a lot of trust in Howell.
Although I think Howell has been a big part of the Rays in the past and have a lot of respect for him, he frankly hasn’t been the same since recovering from his disastrous injury. It’s really too bad it had to happen to such a good guy, but that’s the reality of baseball. Unfortunately, Maddon is not totally aware that J.P. is hurting his team late in games (like last night). With Juan Cruz, Wade Davis, and Niemann in the bullpen; I don’t see the logic in putting him in in that situations. There’s plenty of other scenarios that would fit Howell, like a lead of at least 3 or a large deficit. Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann have done plenty this year to prove that they are deserving of this responsibility. The next frustrating ALDS decision I want to discuss, is the Game 5 starter. Optimistically assuming that the Rays win today, I don’t understand at all why James Shields is starting Game 5. Let me get this straight; James† Shields is the best pitcher by far on the Rays.
On the other hand, rookie Matt Moore has a day more rest than Shields and the Rangers have absolutely no answer hitting him. I’m aware that this means Matt Moore will be the ALCS Game 1 starter, but you got to get there first. At the end of the day, I still like the Rays chances in this series. This is virtually nothing compared to how much the Rays have been through. They came back from 9 games behind in September, I think they can win two games in a row. That’s truly how I think of the Rays being of the verge of elimination; win two games. I’m very confident the Rays can do this after the unforgetable miracles I’ve witnessed this year.
A better script couldn’t be written than the story of the 2011 Tampa Bay Rays. In 2008, it was a story with new “chapters” added as the magical season progressed. The sequel to that story is not 2009 or 2010, it’s this year. This year is the second year that the Rays have shocked the baseball nation. What makes this season so amazing is how the Rays earned a spot in the playoffs after this long and winding road of the regular season. An unforgettable season that will go down in baseball history because of the epic collapse of the Boston Red Sox. A team that was often a preseason favorite to win it all, after their enormous off-season. Just like in 2008, everyone wrote off the Rays in the beginning of the season. It seemed as if many criticts would prove to be right when the Rays were trailing the Wild Card by 9 games in September. The hustling and worry-free Rays then started to slowly climb back into the picture, as the pressured Red Sox were totally collapsing. It would come down to the wire, game 162, to decide who would play in October or if there would be a tiebreaker. The Rays were trailing 7-0 in the 8th, and Boston was up in the 9th with two outs and nobody on. It couldn’t more perfect than what happened on that historic night. The Rays would comeback and be saved by Dan Johnson, just like in 2008, and would walk-off by none other than Tampa Bay’s sports icon Evan Longoria. But it gets even better though. Meanwhile in Baltimore, Paplebon is trying to close out a sure win. With a 3-2 Boston lead, the O’s were down to their last out of the season with the bases empty. There would be no Irish Jig for Paplebon that night, as the Birds would smack three hits in a row for a comeback victory.
The last hit was a catchable line-drive to left field, and guess who dropped the baseball to end their depressing season? Oh yes, it was Carl Crawford. It was just a perfect day of baseball. That night really defined the miraculous season for the Rays into a nutshell. Being down 7-0 in the 8th with their rivals an out a way from winning, the Rays once again showed the world that anything is possible in the game of baseball. Nobody would of ever thought it would all play it like this; but that’s not what the Rays needed to win. The incredible season isn’t over, as they still have another big mission in 2011. The Rays want and can bring a title to Tampa. Doing that would silence the countless critics and fans that have been putting down the Rays’ fans and stadium all year. Winning it all would surely quiet the many saying that relocation is the only option for the franchise. Last night was a step in the right direction, as the Rays stunned the Rangers with a brutal 9-0 Game 1 win in Arlington.
Phenom Matt Moore was called to start the game against the huge Texas bats in just his second major league start. Just called up a few weeks ago, Moore didn’t let anyone down with a stellar outing. Seven scoreless innings in a postseason game at Arlington is absolutely remarkable. With all the momentum, it will be exciting to see what the Rays can do in the postseason. But just like in the regular season, we’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.