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Jake's Take: Devil Rays for Dummies

Now, I'm the first to point out the irony of the post title. However, in my "researching" (which basically consists of me going through random baseball/devil rays-related articles), I've started to see consistent misconceptions and horrible inaccuracies when it comes to the Rays.

Misconception #1: The Rays continue to look for lopsided trades and always try to "ask for the moon". No matter the Front Office, the Rays remain the same.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong-ity Wrong.

That was a definite tactic of Chuck LaMar, however the Rays new front office don't seem to make those kinds of trades anymore. If you want any indication that they aren't "ask for the moon" types anymore, check out last year's trades.

  1. Danys Baez & Lance Carter for Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany. Result: Basically even in results. Neither side has an advantage, as of now. Baez may not be on the Dodgers, but he brought them Betemit.
  2. Dewon Brazelton for Sean Burroughs. Result: Definite loss trade, however I'm still glad that AWOL is gone.
  3. Travis Schlicting for Josh Paul. Result: Major League catcher(though not a great one) for a minor leaguer who outright sucks overall.
  4. Aubrey Huff for Ben Zobrist & Mitch Talbot. Result: Rays clearly have the advantage with Huff going to the Orioles and Zobrist profiling to be an above average Util guy and Mitch Talbot being way better than advertised.
  5. Carlos Hines for Tyler Walker. Result: Wash, seeing as Hines got his chances as a Ray and never did anything. Bad thing is, nor did Walker.
  6. Mark Hendrickson & Toby Hall for Dioneer Navarro, Jae Seo and PTBNL(Justin Ruggiano). Result: Rays win, with Hendrickson being the only former Ray remaining on the Dodgers. Navarro is 22 and already has matched Hall's TB OPS. Seo=meh and Ruggiano is a Sickels' favorite.
  7. Julio Lugo for Joel Guzman and Sergio Pedroza. Result: Yet to be determined, for now. With Logan White heading up LA's draft warroom, who knows what he's gonna get for the Lugo draft pick(for him signing with Boston). However, we got some talent prospects that it'd be hard for the Rays to be upset about.
  8. Russell Branyan for Evan Meek & PTBNL(Dale Thayer). Result: Not a great return, but far more than what we should've expect for a .206 hitter. Something is better than nothing.
Misconception #2- All we draft is H.S. Outfielders or "hard to classify" infielders, while we should be drafting MLB-ready College Starting Pitchers.

I've seen many places which think all the Rays do is get who they deem "the best hitter" available while following our "needs"(i.e. Pitching) in Amatuer drafts. However, we've drafted our fair share of pitchers with our picks and none have really panned out just yet. Niemann, out of the 3 first-round SPs drafted by the Rays, still has the potential to be dominant in the major leagues while Brazelton and Townsend are less likely in my mind.

This year's draft was the catalyst of a huge debate that still rages on. The Rays chose Evan Longoria, deemed the best player available over pitchers who put up gawdy numbers in college(Tim Linecum and Andrew Miller). Evan far exceeded every scout and Rays executive's expectectations rampaging through the minors and showing far more potential than originally projected. Linecum continued to impress in his K/9 numbers and K/BB, but questions still remain about whether or not he's a starter or reliever. Andrew Miller didn't really have enough time to show any indication of what kind of major leaguer he is. However, the Rays moved former heralded prospect BJ Upton to 3B and signed Japanese Gold-glove IFer Iwamura to play for the Rays at one of Longoria's 2 potential positions, which have made the Longoria factor more confusing.

The Rays have a tough decision this draft as well, picking between a high-profile college pitcher(David Price) and a great position player at a "need" position(Wieters). Most believe that we'll "do the right thing" by picking Price over Wieters. Who knows, though.

Misconception #3- The Rays grow/develop players, only to trade them away or lose them to Free Agency

Many Rays fans believe that we develop good players, only to let them walk away. However, if you look at a list of players that we've ever let go. I only see a small handful of players that have turned out to be above average or even major league average at their positions, post-Rays. Bobby Abreu, which we had nothing to do with our development department, and Randy Winn, who was a late-bloomer who was a part of the Lou deal, are the only 2 players that come to mind. Tanyon Sturtze, Nick Green, Damian Rolls, Jorge Sosa, Jesus Colome, Steve Cox, Jared Sandberg, Victor Zambrano, Nick Bierbrodt, Damon Hollins, Carlos Hines, Quentin McCracken, Greg Vaughn, Jason Johnson, Travis Lee, Dewon Brazelton, Aubrey Huff, Travis Harper, Dan Wheeler and Matt Diaz come to mind in players that we're better off without. Some of those names, ironically, are Rays record holders. However, we've been fortunate enough to have a system full of better and much more high profile players.

Misconception #4- The Rays new ownership isn't, and never will be, willing to spend money and are only biding time to move the Rays out of Florida.

The first part is still in it's "gray area", mainly due to the small amount of time that the Rays new ownership has been in full control and due to a few moves. The NDRO has spent cash on keeping it's best players(Crawford and Baldelli) by signing them to long-term deals, signing International talent. opening international talent development camps and rennovating Tropicana Field & Port Charlotte(it's future ST site). However, 2 consecutive offseasons have landed 0 "big name" Free Agents. Iwamura was a Top 20 FA this year, but the posting system has it's limits in some ways and the Iwamura signing wasn't a "big risk" player. Still "gray" area, until we know for sure.

I, on the other hand, am almost definite that the NDRO isn't planning a move from Florida anytime soon. If we wanted to move, we wouldn't have spent the money that we are to rennovate Tropicana or went to look for a new Spring Training site and rennovate that. Also, I'm almost definite that the NDRO had to give Florida indications that they're keeping the team in Florida in order to get the grant money for the Spring Training rennovations. However, by not being a Floridian citizen, I'm not up-to-date on all of the political situations of Florida.

Misconception #5- The Rays need pitching, at all costs (even if it means their best players)

One of the things that irks me the most, is how every rumor site or "baseball columnists" always seem to throw our best players in trade rumors for veteran/young pitcher possible. I don't know how many times I've seen Rocco and Carl in trade rumors, even after Friedman deemed Carl "untouchable" and made his "we're not trading major leaguers for prospects anymore" comment. However, Rocco for Hayden Penn for Adam Loewen pops up on websites?

We do need pitching, that's not entirely false. However, the misconception is that we need any kind of pitcher just as long as he pitches. More specifically, we need a true #2 pitcher or another "ace"-type of pitcher and a set-up man/closer. Even more specifically, we need a veteran prescence at those spots. We don't need "bottom of the order" pitchers or even guys who would be great middle-rotation guys, seeing that we've got plenty of those options already on the team and "in the wings". Hell, if we don't get one through Free Agency or a trade this offseason/season, we may fill those holes from within from our own farm system. We've got THAT good of a system, actually.

While I may get chided or heckled for saying this, We've got a good enough farm sytem that we could possibly contend with a team that is 90% or more "homegrown." We've nearly got a self-sustaining farm system that is only going to get better because of the upcoming draft and international scouting. If you don't believe me, look at how many "expendable" parts that we've got at the Major League level right now.

(Possibly)More to come later??