Anything is possible… unless it’s not: Rays’ roster now regrettably unrecognizable

KG“Anything is possible!”

In 2008, Kevin Garnett shouted those words minutes after winning his first and only title as an NBA big man.  Earlier that season, he and Ray Allen defected from their franchises to join Paul Pierce and others to bring the Boston Celtics their first title in over twenty years.

Garnett’s emotion was unmistakable, the pride of a man who had fought years to achieve his lifetime goal.

Anything is possible.

Well, almost anything is possible.  It certainly helps to win championships when you have two other Hall of Famers playing alongside you.  Things are a little more difficult when you don’t.

In the NFL these days, you can’t win without a star quarterback.  In the NBA, you can’t win without having a trio of superstars.  And in Major League Baseball, you can’t win unless you have solid pitching, timely hitting and a healthy dose of veteran leadership.

Giants celebrateOf course, the money a team spends on baseball talent comes into play but it’s not the end-all, be-all in a cap-less sport as we once thought.  We’ve debunked the myth of big-market teams dumping exorbitant salaries as a recipe for success.   Championships have become more about money well spent.

The Tampa Bay Rays have decided to do exactly the opposite, or so it would seem.  The Rays team that will take the field in 2015 will be barely recognizable.  It will be a Dollar Store team in a Neiman Marcus league.

Last year, the Rays were 28th in the league in payroll.  They spent $77 million on player salary.  They missed the playoffs.  The teams that were 29th and 30th in the league, Miami and Houston, didn’t sniff the playoffs all season long but at least the Rays were somewhat close.  For a brief moment, they allowed us to believe.

That won’t be the case this year.

In 2015, an already stingy Rays team won’t come anywhere close to their budget of the previous year.  Their off-season roster moves read like a ticker tape parade, a stock market floor flooded with nothing but ripped tickets, shattered dreams and a harsh dose of reality.

Maddon CubsIn only two months, they traded or released Cesar Ramos, Jeremy Hellickson, Joel Peralta, Jose Molina, Sean Rodriguez, Matt Joyce, Wil Myers, Ryan Hanigan, Brandon Gomes, Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar.  That’s nearly half their roster!  That doesn’t include the loss of their fearless leader, Joe Maddon and GM Andrew Friedman, who jumped ship to Chicago and Los Angeles respectively, two franchises that are considerably less frugal than Tampa Bay and have the means to be so.

Fans that hit the Trop this year, and those are already few and far between, will need a who’s who manual to decipher their lineup.  Aside from their still solid starting rotation (assuming Matt Moore returns healthy from Tommy John surgery), the only recognizable face will be Evan Longoria, who secretly has to be questioning the contract he signed long ago.  Despite being their best player, it’s hard not to look at Longoria and question whether he’s underachieved.  He hit .253 and only knocked 22 home runs last year, not exactly numbers you want from the face of the franchise.

There once was a time, not long ago, when Rays fans would blindly believe in the organization’s decisions.  Solid players traded away were unproductive elsewhere.  Underachieving players they acquired suddenly rejuvenated their careers.  Such blind faith is becoming more and more difficult to believe in.  After all, they just traded away Ben Zobrist, one of the teams most likeable and reliable players, for a utility catcher that hit .230 and played for them three years ago.  Didn’t they get rid of him for a reason?  Their moves have become harder and harder to understand.

TropOn top of all that, their stadium is commonly considered the worst in the league.  Rumors about the team moving to Tampa have gone on for years but little progress has been made in breaking their current contract with the city of Saint Petersburg.  Talk of the team leaving the area altogether has become far more believable.

With a brand new GM, a manager with no experience, no new stadium deal in the works, a pennies-on-the-dollar roster nobody will recognize and the entire future of the team uncertain, the Tampa Bay Rays organization will once again try to convince their fans that anything is possible.

The only problem is they won’t be listening.

16 thoughts on “Anything is possible… unless it’s not: Rays’ roster now regrettably unrecognizable

  1. great post chumpy
    worst or second worst in attendance each of the last 4 years
    this will help
    initially thought maybe they’re trying to rid themselves of all the friedman/maddon guys, which would be pretty much everybody
    but then remembered getting rid of good players is what they do… shields, price…
    wouldn’t be surprised if there was some behind the scenes stuff going on
    could be planning a move to, say, montreal
    who knows?
    just a shame for loyal rays fans
    wait… there are loyal rays fans, right?

  2. Chris

    Matt Silverman will be a pale shadow of Andrew Friedman as a general manager .

    The loss of Ben Zobrist and his being traded away with Yunel Escobar to the A’s show that organization to be devoid of complete intelligence. They make money as you suggest but the vast majority of that profit repeatedly comes by way revenues derived the ongoing asinine tax sharing monies from the league . While we’re at it , where do you believe the money should come from for the stadium that the petulant a##hole Stuart Sternberg continues to whine on about ? Not once, as a gesture of goodwill has Sternberg or any of his partners have been willing to even place $1 million let alone $15 million into an escrow account and state they’re even prepared to in part, finance the building of a new venue . Yet there continues to be the constant idiocy and apathy shown by the local politicians idiotic fans within the locale , calling for a new for the Tampa Bay Rays. How about them placing an emphasis of putting a winning product on with the field with a player actually willing to lead by example ?

    I mean what the hell has Evan Longoria done for the Rays over the past four seasons apart from having a fat contract ?

    The Tampa Bay Rays are refining the art of incompetence at an astonishing rate .

    Tophatal ……….

  3. There is a cap in baseball , a soft cap of $200 million and the league hierarchy taxes teams exceeding the threshold . Last season only the Dodgers and Yankees exceeded the figure but years past when the sum was lower, it benefited far more small-market teams.

  4. I…

    The Rays are perennially in the top ten in television viewership. That’s because that stadium is about an hour from my house. As I like to have a couple pops at the stadium just like most people, more people catch them on the tube than make that trek across the water.

    My understanding is that there will be a new television contract to hit the majors soon which should mean that teams like the Rays will have more money to spend. That should also mean that others do too.

    Look, major league ball players need a reason to want to play in this area. I’m not sure that reason exists much anymore.

  5. The contract you’re talking about , what type of disbursement will there be that’ll be of real benefit to the Rays ? It’s not be as impact-ful as you believe ?

    Let me ask you this what type of template do you believe is needed in baseball if teams are to be benefit equitably ?

    How bad is that Broncos’ defense given the money John Elway spent there ? DeMarcus Ware , Vonn Miller and Aqib Talib simply didn’t turn up against the Colts . The mantel has been passed as Manning is now on the wane after today’s performance .

    Indianapolis’ defense more than up to the task.

    Chuck Pagano completely out-coached Jon Fox with ease .

    Tophatal ……

  6. Chump, This sounds like the San Diego Padres of the east… sigh… sorry. At least the good teams will still have to visit once in a while

  7. Wouldn’t it be easier to just root for your boyhood favorite team the Red Sox? Why do it to yourself? You ditched the BoSox for the Rays? Is Dana White going to have to drug test you?

  8. Al…

    This could be a tough season for the Rays. And if they thought attendance was bad last year.

    A friend and avid Rays fan told me he thought the Zobrist deal might be the straw that broke the camel’s back. We shall see.

    For the longest time, I was convinced this team would stay in the area. Now, let’s just say, I’m not entirely sure.

    I’ve also accepted the fact that baseball will remain a capless sport. I’m okay with that. It’s become fun to root for the small market, less-spending underdog teams and against the ones who dump coin on salaries. What’s it done for New York and LA lately. Heck, small market teams are still able to win things. Just not if they’re in the bottom five in the league.

  9. Tree…

    When the Rays first started out, Sox and Yanks games were always packed, most of the time with fans of the other teams.

    As the Rays became more competitive in that division, we saw a changing of the guard, a lot more people actually rooting for the home team.

    We’ll see if that trend is about to reverse back to the way it once was.

  10. D…

    Perhaps I’m a glutton for punishment.

    And apparently White’s boys have ways to figure out when the drug tests are coming so I’m pretty sure I’d pass with the right people in my corner.

  11. Chris

    MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner still uses an abacus for counting and that’s all you need to know . MLB hierarchy remains bereft of ideas as to how create a level playing field in terms of their financial fiscal situation .

    It should be fun watching things pan out in the AL East .

    I am still in state of bewilderment concerning the moves made by the Atlanta Brave. John Hart succeeds Frank Wren as the general manager and he begins to gut the roster like a butcher seeking to trim fat off a slab of beef. Unfortunately, he took to cutting way too much, rather than simply trimming.

    AJ Pierzynski has nothing to offer Braves’ catcher Christian Bethancourt , by way of teaching him to be a great defensive catcher, much less being a productive hitter.

    Your thoughts on Hank Aaron possibly becoming a co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks ?

    There are no do-overs in the NBA and LBJ can’t rethink his move to the Cavaliers .

    So the Nets’ payroll of $90 million pales into comparison concerning the franchise’s losses for the fiscal year just ended ? Team owner Mikhail Prokhorov must be so proud the franchise can lose $140 million (salaries and paying the league’s luxury tax) and still have nothing to show for it all at the end of the day .

    Tophatal …………

  12. Chris

    Jerry Jones was named as Executive of the Year within the NFL ? What the hell have the members of the PFWA been drinking over the course of this season ?

    Your thoughts ? Valid in terms of the award ? Or was someone else more deserving ?

    Tophatal ….

  13. Chris

    Muhammad Ali back in hospital and the boxer recently celebrated his seventy-second birthday (January 17th) . I was certainly he survived and made it into 2015 ! It’s now a coin toss to see whether or not he can make it through this entire year. Complications before were said to have been a respiratory problem and a urinary tract infection. Now the latter has returned and the complications of pneumonia have also come back into being . It’ll be a sad loss if his demise happens .

    Tophatal …………

  14. I remind you, Al, that the Rays were actually slight favorites to win the AL East last year. Pretty sure that won’t be the case this season.

    Aaron a potential investor in the Hawks? I didn’t realize he had that kind of coin. I’ll tell you what. These days, with the way the Hawks are playing, that’s not all hat bad of an investment.

    Executive of the year in the NFL? Who’s calling the shots in Seattle? I’d say that guy deserves a sniff.

    And sad news about Ali, that’s for sure. No doubt that when he passes, he’ll be remembered as one of the greatest sports figures of all time.

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