ST PETERSBURG FL - OCTOBER 07: Desmond Jennings #27 the Tampa Bay Rays waits on deck during Game 2 of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field on October 7 2010 in St. Petersburg Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
I'm not exactly sure how to say this tactfully, so I'm just going to throw it out there: this Rays team is boring. It feels so weird to say that, considering the Rays are only four games out of the division race and they have the third-best record in the American League, but it's nonetheless true. Our expectations have been set high due to having one of the most exciting teams in baseball these past few seasons, but still, when this team is struggling offensively, it can be downright painful to watch games.
But the reason I find this current team boring goes beyond the play on the field. Around this time last season, I remember looking forward to the 2011 season in a weird sort of way. I think Erik summed it up well in one of his posts last August:
As weird as it may sound to some, I think next year's less talented team will be more fun to root for. Sure, we probably won't enjoy as many victories as the 2010 team provides us with, but we'll get to watch Desmond Jennings, Jeremy Hellickson, and Jake McGee try. Once again the Rays will be an underdog, with freshly minted stacks of house money to gamble with.
This season was supposed to be a relaxed, youth-driven year. A year to allow our young players to develop and see what they could do in the majors. We'd be underdogs again -- and we are -- but I was hoping and expecting to see more players in the majors that are part of the Rays' long term plan. Instead, the Rays have spent the majority of the season with what feels like -- no, what is -- an inferior roster, playing bench players while keeping their top prospects in Triple-A.
So here we are. The Rays have an outside chance at reaching the playoffs (BPro gives them 1:10 odds), but they aren't making easy roster moves that would help increase their chances. The Super Two date has passed, but Desmond Jennings is still in the minors and Sam Fuld and Justin Ruggiano are still splitting time in left field. Sean Rodriguez has only 70 more plate appearances than Elliot Johnson, and Andy Sonnanstine is being paid to sit on his bum while Jake McGee is striking out 10 batters per nine in Triple-A. And I keep asking myself: why?
I'm not asking the Rays to sacrifice development in order to field a better team this season. What else does Desmond Jennings need to work on in Triple-A? In what world does Elliot Johnson deserve to get a start instead of Sean Rodriguez? And hasn't Jake McGee already made improvements since being sent down earlier this season? Right now, it feels to me like the Rays aren't playing for this season, but also aren't playing for the future. They seem stuck in limbo, and it makes it painful to follow and watch the team.
This isn't just an isolated incident, either. The Rays chose to give Andy Sonnanstine multiple starts earlier this season before calling up Alex Cobb, and this front office has typically been very slow and deliberate in promoting prospects. That's a fine strategy most of the time, but right now? With Desmond Jennings having a career year in Triple-A? This is passing into the realm of the absurd.
So please, Rays, promote Jennings already. Stop playing Elliot Johnson so often. And cut bait with Andy Sonnanstine. Why are you entering a series against the Yankees -- a series with big ramifications in the standings -- with a daily lineup that features Fuld or Ruggs? I've been as patient as possible, but I've run out of excuses. Please, stop boring us.