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Holiday wish list for the Rays

Here’s what we want to find under the tree Christmas morning

MLB: Spring Training-Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Chanukah just ended, Christmas is days away, so it’s high time that DRaysBay shared our holiday wish list.

These wishes range from those totally within the control of the fanbase (#2 and arguably #1), to made-up fairy-tale impossibilities (#3 and arguably #4).

If you have any Rays wishes of your own, toss them in the comment section.

#1 No more trade rumors

This was originally written before the Longoria trade. I only agree with the sentiment even more after the move of the Face of the Franchise.

I’ll admit that I am a bit of a curmudgeon about trade rumors. I think they are pointless and a true waste of time. But the world does not agree with me. It is proven every time DRays Bay (or any other baseball site) posts a trade rumor article, and it goes on to be the most popular content the site has for an entire week.

What I’m here to argue is that, right now, trade rumors aren’t exactly looking good for the Rays. Any time their name comes up in a rumor, it’s an opposing team looking to gut the Rays, stealing away Alex Colome and/or Chris Archer, and usually for what to us seems like pennies on the dollar.

Let the rumors die.

#2 Self-confidence

As you can find within any fanbase (except maybe the obnoxiously over-confident Yankee and Red Sox fans), there seems to be a Lost-esque split among factions of Rays fans. (You bet your sweet tush that that is multiple references within my last three articles to a TV show that went off the air seven years ago.)

There’s one half of the fanbase that has had any shred of optimism pounded out of them. It’s been four straight seasons without a postseason; it’s been twenty years of low payrolls, stars lost to trades and free agency, and hopes placed on over-the-hill vets seeking comebacks.

The other half of the fanbase thrives on rooting for the perpetual underdog, believing that the Rays can shake off the challenges that come with being a small market team to compete with the big dogs. They (we) will cite the fact that the Rays have finished with fewer than 80 wins in only two of the past 10 seasons, and that, by third-order winning percentage, they’ve actually been one of the better teams in baseball over the past decade.

Now, being one of the best teams by third-order winning percentage is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine, but it can give us hope. And as Andy Dufresne is fond of noting, “Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.” Plus, as my colleagues and I are fond of noting:

I’m not suggesting that the Rays would somehow magically perform better if their fanbase had the J.R. Smith-level of irrational confidence that the Red Sox and Yankee fanbases have, but I am suggesting that it might not hurt to give it a try. It’ll be tougher than ever after moving Longoria, but hey, this is a wishlist after all.

#3 A one-year-specific Brad Miller time machine

Please let 2018 be closer to 2016 than 2017, Brad. If you could be the San Francisco Giants of players and just dominate every even year, I’d be totally fine with that. (At least until 2019.)

#4 Willy Adames and Brent Honeywell 2018 debuts

My first couple of wish list items may have been a bit controversial, but here’s a wish that all Rays fans can certainly get behind. The Rays have a consensus top-ten farm system in all of baseball, and it is highlighted by a position player/starting pitcher duo that any team in baseball would be hard-pressed to match.

Adames is a 22-year-old shortstop who has flashed five-tool potential at each stop of his minor league career. Honeywell is a future ace both in the mind of many Rays fans, as well as in the mind of Honeywell himself (which you have to love). Both players spent a good chunk of the 2017 season at Triple-A, so it’s not much of a stretch to imagine the two on the Tropicana diamond together in 2018. Of course, if there is one weakness to the Rays front office, it is a love for kicking the can (and by “can” I mean “arb clock”) down the road a bit, so it still is a wish and not a guarantee.

#5 A continuation of the McKay Experiment

Another wish that will be determined strictly by Rays management, the “Brendan McKay as both a pitcher and a hitter” experiment is one that any baseball fan should enjoy. Heck, the vast majority of the baseball offseason (Jeter and Giancarlo excluded) has revolved around a player coming to the states in a similar situation.

If the Rays do end up deciding that McKay will be used strictly as a pitcher, it might speed up his eventual MLB debut (possibly as soon as late 2018), but personally, I’d love to see them (slightly) slow play the “McKay Two Way,” which is definitely what I will be referring to McKay’s quest to make the big leagues as both a pitcher and a hitter from now on.

Despite the previous wish, I’m totally fine with the Rays delaying McKay’s big league debut until 2019 if it means he is given a fair chance to be the first true homegrown two-way star in most of our lifetimes.

#6 Evan Longoria fathead for the lockerroom

Would this count as a veteran presence?

#7 Realignment?

The last item is controversial and honestly I’m still ambivalent about it. MLB realignment gets tossed around every offseason when there’s not much to talk about, and baseball writers need something to fill their column inches. It’s an interesting discussion, and it’s tempting to think about the Rays not having to compete with two of arguably the three biggest markets in all of baseball. At the same time, it’s very unlikely to happen any time soon, and even though it would be nice to face an easier schedule each year, part of the fun of being a Rays fan is getting to play the Severe Underdog Card 38 times a season. It makes those divisional wins all the more satisfying.

So it’s decided, Baseball Gods. We’ll settle for the first six items on this list for our holiday reward. See you next December with another long list for you.