Let’s Talk About The Rays

by Brandon Jopko | Posted on Saturday, January 25th, 2014
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Let’s talk about the Rays, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about the Rays
Let’s talk about the Rays
Let’s talk about the Rays
Let’s talk about the Rays

Did you catch the tune from Salt ‘N Pepa?

So, the Rays then. After having lost the ALDS in October and fearing David Price may have pitched his last game for the team, the Rays found themselves at a crossroads prepared to retool their roster by trading away their star player. That hasn’t come to fruition yet. In fact, it appears the Rays may be all in for 2014 as principal owner Stu Sternberg recently had this to say,:

“My expectation is that David Price will be here,” Sternberg said. “None of this was done with the belief David would or would not be here. This was done to take a baseball team that has the opportunity to be special this year and give it the best chance to be special. Stuff happens, but we’re not waking up every morning waiting for the phone to ring, and we’re not dialing around the league trying to make something happen.”

So, with Price still in the fold, the Rays would indeed be bringing back their really good starting rotation of Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Matt Moore along with Jeremy Hellickson in the fifth spot. In addition, they keep their solid depth at Triple A with Jake Odorizzi, Alex Colome and Enny Romero among others.

Furthermore, in an unlike Rays move, with payroll already higher than ever before the Rays still went out and signed free-agent closer Grant Balfour. That will push their opening day payroll near $80M. This addition really sets them up for an exceptional bullpen with the likes of Joel Peralta and Jake McGee returning as the set-up men along with newly acquired Heath Bell and former closer Juan Carlos Oviedo.

Even earlier in the off-season they resigned (YES RESIGNED) James Loney to a new three-year deal. That’s something that just isn’t done in Rays land. I expected them to get a Logan Morrison or a Mark Reynolds type of player to fill first base rather amiably, but nope, they brought back Loney who seems like a perfect fit; a Rays success story to be sure.

In response to the new eminence placed on payroll Sternberg said:

“We want to give this organization and teams like this a chance to compete and win. And we know that it’s going to cost us more than we can afford.”

So, to hell with money then, right Stu? This signing still has me rather shocked. The Rays spent money? For a closer!! A position where they’ve had so much success just picking up guys off the garbage heap and turning them into something. Personally, I thought Bell would be the guy this year who would come in and rack up 35 plus saves. Anyway, Balfour undoubtedly makes them better and he loves being a Ray!

That’s not all. In typical Rays fashion they wanted to acquire another player (hello Sean Rodriguez) who is a play all over the place type of utility player. The Rays pulled off a rather peculiar two for five player trade with the Padres for Logan Forsythe. This added versatility enables Joe Maddon to rotate his players through the DH spot keeping his roster fresh while adding depth in case of injury.

Earlier in the off-season they acquired (ANOTHER) all defense no offense type of catcher in Ryan Hanigan. I know they value defense and pitch-framing, but enough already!! All kidding aside though, it is rather obvious that GM Andrew Friedman values run prevention which, I have to say, they’re pretty good at. Consider the fact that in 2012 and 2011 the Rays allowed the fewest runs in the A.L. and in 2013 they were fifth best. All the playoff teams last year were in the top half of that category.

As a result of this new found all-in mentality of the Rays, they offer some fierce competition in the A.L East for Boston and New York. Unfortunately for the other two teams in the division, the Blue Jays and Orioles have yet to make impactful additions which leaves them alone to partake in a kind of basement dwelling duel to see which team can finish fourth.

Right now, as a Blue Jays fan, I have to tip my cap to the Rays and what they’re preparing to do. They may just be the sexy pick to win the East in 2014.

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Brandon Jopko
About the Author

Senior Writer for Baseball Hot Corner and die-hard Blue Jays fan longing for another chance to experience his team in playoff glory. You can visit his blog at pumpedupjays.com or follow him on Twitter @pumpedupjays

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