"The names have all changed, since you've come around..."
With Juan Epste, er David Eckstein being named the MVP of the World Series, it pretty much starts the clock on "Offseason 2007". Lessons were learned this season, good and bad ones. The Rays took chances on Free Agent hitters/pitchers and did pretty well on some of our smaller gambles(Wiggy's "breakout", Branyan being a tradeable product, Meadows' Jerkyll & Hyde trick, Norton doing his best Tupac Impression, etc.) Our biggest problem that we dealt with in 2006 was our insane amount of injuries to our best players and the non-cohesiveness of our pitching staff, especially it's assortment of older "horsesh*t" (Harville, Harper, Meadows and at times Miceli) bullpen pitchers.
What does a team, that's losing money, do to make a "rebuilding" phase team into a team that is a few parts away from becoming a "contending team"?
- Use our farm system to fill most of the holes that we're going to have after we release/non-tender/demote players. Use Ridgway as our LOOGY, make sure Niemann is healthy and hand him a rotation spot, convert one of our young starters(Hammel, Howell, Stokes) into a long-reliever to replace Harper and allow some of our top prospects to contend for starting jobs in the infield and rotation. Outside of our OF and Catching spot(Navarro and Riggans), no job should be locked.
- Listen to all trades that don't involve Crawford, Rocco, Delmon, Niemann, Brignac and Kazmir. All others, especially ones with problems, should be shopped around as actively as possible.
- If we make any signings, make sure that the player isn't on their last legs of their careers and have some stuff(not pies) left in the tank.
- Have Ned Colletti on speed-dial, now that top exec Terry Collins is no longer in the front office. I enjoy this friendship that we've got with the Dodgers, but do we know for sure that "the well is dry". I'd love if we got Dodger Draft Guru Logan White, in a trade, myself.
- Place some bids on Japanese Free Agents/Posted players, even if we don't get them.
- See if there's a 3rd Lugo Brother or cousin that plays baseball. We've got decent luck with players of that last name.
- Find a stern manager for Durham. We have no need for a patient to run the asylum again... We may not have our hot tempered prospects there anymore, but Tamargo was an embarassment.
- Keep up-to-date on all our prospects' doings, during the offseason and during the season. If someone is dominating, move them up when they deserve it.
- Do extensive college scouting, so that we get the best players available and not so many "signability" picks in the upcoming Rule V(Amateur) Draft.
- Be creative, keep Rays fans thinking