Losing the ALDS was deflating, and we've been feeling it over here at DRB. Thanks for your readership, and for sticking with us as we look to the off season.
To catch us up to speed, here are some quotes and news blips from the past week that may be worth your time.
On Defining Success
Rays Manager Joe Maddon:
"With 90-plus [wins], it's been a pretty good year, regardless of what anyone else might want to think. You're always going to talk about the different levels of success. And what is ultimate success? Probably winning the World Series. Retrospectively, we didn't get where we wanted to get, but cannot be more proud or pleased with our group.
"I kind of think we almost played to our potential. Boston just outplayed us this year. You can't deny that. They were better than us this year. If we could've gotten by them, this could have gone pretty far, I think. But it just happens. We just have to be able to somehow figure our way through this first round and get a little bit deeper. ... But our guys have nothing to hang our heads about.
"You keep trying to pound on the door on an annual basis to try to get the last game of the year and win it. And if you do, obviously that's the ultimate success. I don't even know if success comes in different levels. For me, for us, yes, this has been a successful season to this point, no question about it. A lot to be proud of within the entire group. But our goal still is to play the last game of the baseball season this year and win it."
"We've been very, very fortunate to put together the kind of run that we have. It's just tough to come to grips with the fact that we have been there four times and haven't reached the ultimate goal, but in retrospect, I think we're all happy with the opportunity that we've gotten in the past four years, to be able to say that we were counted among the eight or 10 [postseason teams] at the end of the year."
"Seeing the potential in our team and believing we're much better than where the season ended up, yeah, it's frustrating. We really thought that we could have virtually switched places with the Red Sox, not only in the playoffs but in the regular season, with the way things went.
"We can talk all day about if this would have been different and that would have been different, but I think when it came down to it, it's about executing in the postseason. Getting to the postseason is really hard, just to get there. That's about trying to be as consistent as possible through the course of 162 games. But then once you get in the postseason, it's anybody's game. If we were to get hot, then we could just as likely be moving on."
"It's just the way the playoffs go. Our goal is to get to the playoffs, and then you assume that if you're good enough to get in the playoffs, you can go all the way."
Fuld's quote could be a line by Billy Beane line at the close of Moneyball, and properly captures my own thoughts as well. Qualifying for the postseason is the chore in baseball. Winning it all is something else entirely.
On Returning Free Agents
Joel Peralta wants Fernando Rodney back next season:
"Fernando and I, we're like brothers right now. If he's not here, I'm really, really going to miss the guy. He's one of the best as a pitcher, one of the best as teammates. We've got a great relationship, and I'm really hoping that he's back.
"Let's just see what they offer, how many offers they've got in the market. I think he's going to get a lot better offers somewhere else."
Delmon Young would like to remain with the Rays in 2014:
"I'm looking forward to my first offseason since 2010, when I can do weight training and baseball activity. First get that taken care of*, and this time around, I have an opportunity to pick a team that I think I can fit in well with and has a great opportunity to get to the World Series.
"I don't know what [the Rays'] offseason plans are, but with the starting pitching they have... [Longoria] will be back and Wil has a chance to have 35 home runs next year, so it's a place I'd like to come back to."
*Young rehabbed injuries the past two off seasons, and has not had the luxury of working out during the winter since he started the 2011 season.
Andrew Friedman was his usual ambiguous self talking with Bill Chastain about next year's roster, saying, "It's who we are."
"I anticipate there will be a decent amount of turnover. That being said, there are a lot of guys who are going to be free agents from our 2013 team that we might bring back. There might not be that much turnover, but that's really difficult to answer right now."
The Rays will be losing. Friedman also noted that high turnover is really a part of this team's identity (or as we call it, "ball on a budget"):
"It's who we are... We've had a lot of change, really, every offseason. There hasn't been an offseason with minimal turnover. The important thing is that for the most part, our core guys have stayed in place, and we've been able to supplement around our core group.
That core is built around Evan Longoria, who signed a contract extension with the team this off season that could keep him in a Rays uniform through 2023. Longoria shared his throughts on turnover as well:
"It's definitely tough, but at the same time, you understand how much of a business the game is, as much as it is a profession and a game that we play. Everybody has to do what they need to do to get what they want out of it, whether it's a player moving on to either bigger or better things or that better suits their needs, or the front office and staff making the moves that they need to make us better for the future.
"It's tough to stand here and think that maybe some of the guys I've played with for a while may not be in the same clubhouse with us again next year. But really, my goal has to be to prepare myself the best I can for the next year."
Longoria also called this year's iteration a "tight knit group" in other interviews, and credited the team's enthusiasm and the way each individual carried themselves as reasons the team made it into the postseason.
Jose Lobaton Serves
The Rays back up catcher received a $5,000 check to give to charity from the Rays for being the first player to hit a home run into the Rays Tank in franchise history.
He chose a noble cause to support, as noted by GomesSweetGomes this morning:
A little bit about the Children's Home
The kids he was giving ice cream to were basically at a large scale group-home, with the exception being that their parents were there too. Thus when there is a parent who has a severe drug addiction for example, instead of taking the kids away and in turn ruining their lives for the mistakes of the parents, they will keep the whole family unit intact, and have them live there short-term while mom/dad gets help. In short, not only are these kids virtually homeless, but they've likely been through a lot of crap most of us have never had to deal with.
A really noble choice for Lobaton to choose to give 5k to help. And showing up in person, serving ice cream, and signing autographs is even better.
Tampa Bay Times has a video from the event as well.
Team Thanks Fans
The Rays took out a full-page ad in today's Tampa Bay Times to thank you, the fans.