Sometimes, I am wrong. Very rarely, and usually the circumstances leave that status debatable, but every once in a blue moon, I make a mistake. Far less than ordinary mortals, I grant you, but I have occasionally made errors in judgement concerning things in all walks of life.
Today, I would like to highlight three of those as they pertain to the game of baseball, and specifically, the Rays. I get so caught up in analyzing the successes and failures of Major League GMs and front offices that I fail to recognize my own shortcomings in this regard after a period of time has past. I recently reflected on this over the last week, and came to a conclusion of three things that I was wrong about, in varying degrees. One of these three things happened very recently, the other two happened several months ago. One of them has to do with a DRO business decision, while the other two are baseball operations moves.
And thus in an effort to prove to those of you out there with illusions about my perfection that I am indeed not always correct, and that the people I criticize sometimes are, I present to you my three things that I admit to being wrong about. I am sure that there are other relatively minor (or perhaps even significant) things that I have said which are false, but these are the three things which stick out.
#1. The Trade of Joey Gathright to the Royals was a Mistake
This is the only particular error which I regret in full. There is absolutely no retaining factor which can save this remark from complete and utter failure, and I take responsibility for that.
Back on June 22nd of last year, the Rays traded demoted outfielder Joey Gathright to Kansas City after a disappointing start to the season for former Royals first round pick J.P. Howell. I cited Howell's lack of velocity, underwhelming secondary pitches, his injury, and potential that I saw in Gathright to chastise the move. In this piece I made one remark that truly sums up the depth of my mistake.
In all actuality, this was a statement that I would come to regret. Even though Howell's 5.10 ERA in eight starts don't exactly disprove my remark, I've seen just about enough other evidence to convince myself that my opinion on this matter was false. Howell appeared to regain some of his velocity late in the season as he recovered from injury, and he posted excellent peripheral stats the whole way in the major leagues to convince doubters (that would be, um, me) that he could pitch. Only the truly stubborn would cling on to the falsehoods that I cited in that post any further.
Gathright wasn't terrible with Kansas City, he hit .262/.332/.328, and you all know that having someone as speedy as Gathright on base can be dangerous for the opposing team. However Gathright still isn't getting on base enough to be a productive everyday player, he was just 10 of 16 on stolen base attempts, and for all his speed, he is still a liability defensively. For those reasons, he will likely amount to nothing more than a backup outfielder. The Rays, on the other hand, have a serviceable left-handed starter with good peripherals, rebounding fastball velocity, and decent secondary offerings. I know which one I would rather have.
#2. The Raise in Ticket Prices was a Disgrace
That was, more or less, the feeling I conveyed in this October 9th rant that I posted on this here web site. To be fair, this really isn't a complete falsehood that I am admitting to. I still do believe that certain parts of the raise in ticket prices were not appropriate, and I dislike some of the funny math the team used to try and soften the blow. And I still dislike the way in which it was reported, in which the root details of the move were masked in favor of PR-friendly writing.
However, with all of that said, the tone in which I went about voicing my opinion on the changes was far too extreme, in retrospect. The upper deck pricing still makes not a lick of sense, however for a relatively minor aspect of the ticket pricing that really doesn't affect me too much ($8 tickets are still $8 tickets, sans the prime games which I try to avoid anyways) I came off as too extreme in my distaste for the move. For that, I would like to admit error.
#3. The Trade of Brendan Harris to the Rays was a Bad Move
On this particular point, I would like to clarify my position, which was admittedly incorrect. On January 2nd, the Rays traded a Player to Be Named Later or Cash to the Cincinnati Reds for IF Brendan Harris, as documented here. Initially I expressed disgust, calling it, among other things, a "waste of time", "an attempt to mask free agency failure", and "Luis Ordaz but without the fielding". On all counts, I express regret at my position.
To be fair, this move in itself is not bad. However the overriding displeasure with the lack of activity towards signing affordable free agents still stands. There were relief pitchers out on the free agent market worth going after, who were not being vastly overpaid. Those pitchers were David Riske and Octavio Dotel, and both went to Kansas City for very reasonable prices. I very much wish to announce my displeasure with the lack of movement on those fronts, however to take it out on a completely unrelated move in the signing of Harris was wrong, and I regret the error.
Even if he does turn out to be nothing, the investment put in to trade for him was essentially nothing at all, so there really isn't much to lose, and Harris may very well turn into a decent option. While his 120 major league at bats show absolutely no virtues to be optimistic about, his .295/.363/.469 minor league batting line leaves a lot of potential for improvement at the major league level, and is far from the "waste of time" that I proclaimed. Even if his defense is sub par, he still provides us a viable backup infield option, an improvement on Tomas Perez, and most of all, he didn't cost anything. Taking that all into account, my sentiments about him were mistaken, and I regret my error in judgement that those sentiments reflected.