Parting thoughts on Price

Kazmir Shields GarzaThis time around was different.

The Tampa Bay Rays have lost big name players in the past, faces of the franchise, players their fan base had come to know and love.  Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza and James Shields were all solid starting pitchers who left an indelible mark on the team.

All of them now pitch elsewhere.  As do Rafael Soriano and Fernando Rodney who each logged 45+ save seasons in a Tampa Bay uniform.

Rays fans have become accustomed to losing players who become too big, or rather unaffordable, for their team to keep.  We understand that our current circumstance limits how much the team can spend to keep marquis players.

But David Price was different.

I wrote six weeks ago that losing David Price, one of the game’s top ten if not top five pitchers, was inevitable.  Rays fans braced for impact.

Price winsThen the Rays went on a torrid win streak, winning nine straight games sweeping Minnesota, St. Louis and taking two out of three from both Boston and Milwaukee.  Within a month, they went from 16 games under .500 and basically out of contention to flirting with .500 altogether.  They became baseball’s hottest team, winning 20 of 25 games.  People even started mentioning the P word.

And for a brief second, fans thought trading Price might not happen.  After all, why not ride Price out for the rest of the season and see what could happen.

They didn’t.

Despite the win streak, mere minutes before the trade deadline, the Rays pulled the trigger on a three-team deal that sent David Price to an already stacked Detroit Tigers squad.  In return, the Rays received three players, none of whom are of David Price’s caliber but who will be forever linked to the loss of arguably the greatest pitcher in team history.

David PriceSo the team moves on, one big locker now empty, hangers hanging there with no jersey, their former number one starter and mentor to the rest of the staff this much closer to a ring while his former teammates tread water in his absence.

Yes, this time around was definitely different.

Losing Price stung just a little more, hit a little closer to home, another reminder of the injustice of a league sans salary cap.

The Rays had the day off on Thursday after news of the trade broke.  They took to the field on Friday, at home, against the Los Angeles Angels.  You couldn’t see it through the domed roof but there was a dark cloud hanging over the Trop.  There had been for 24 hours, understandably.  The Rays kept things close, coming one clutch base hit short from tying the game in the ninth.  That base hit never came.  They lost 5-3.

David Price was not there to see it.

For the Rays and their fans, the Moneyball act is getting tired, Major League Baseball’s consistently cruel way of telling small market teams you can’t afford this so you can’t have it.

Yes, this time around was most definitely different.

Losing Price was the end of the innocence.  You heard that from every player in every interview.  Losing their teammate weighed heavily on their hearts.

It was a stark reminder that the game they grew up playing is nothing but a business.  Unfortunately for Rays’ fans, losing Price was business as usual.

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21 Replies to “Parting thoughts on Price”

  1. Without a salary cap, the Nfl would be the same. With the attendance so low in Tampa, the Rays had no choice but to trade David Price.

  2. Given the rules small market teams in MLB live by, trading David Price was ultimately the best thing the Rays’ management could ask for. What if they were front running in the AL East? Management would have been compelled to hold on to Price. They would still have been a long shot to win it all and he’d have been gone during the off-season anyway because they simply could not afford the Cy Young award winning lefthander. The Rays would not have picked up a thing to offset their loss. As it is they got 3 potentially good players for Price. This was for the best if the team is to remain relevant into the future…
    Now, once again, how many years are left on that contract with Tropicana Field? In other words, how many more years as a player development team do the Rays have left?

  3. Jody…

    I didn’t mean to come off as whiny in the post. I guess I could have saved you all from reading 600 words and said it all in two.

    This sucks!

    Rays attendance remains low and while there will still always be talk about moving the team to this side of the water, I’m not sure how that’s economically feasible. There are no guarantees that attendance will get any better just because they move the stadium twenty miles to the east.

  4. Exactly, Dwin.

    I think the contract with the city of St Petersburg ends in 2027 but don’t quote me on that.

    If you had asked me a while back, I’d have said (and I did) that I thought they’d be closer to breaking that contract and moving to the other side of the bay. As of yet, no ground has been broken.

    Now I’m starting to wonder if it’ll all happen while I still have hair.

  5. I recall the sting of losing hometown guys. Steve Garvey, Mike Piazza and Kurt Rambis being the most prominent in my memory. It’s like losing a family member.

    In LaLaLand, we’re far more accustomed to taking other cities’ franchise players. Thats a much better feeling. I do feel for the smaller market teams fans, but the majority of the time it’s the players choice to leave, so it is what it is. Supply and demand.

    Doesn’t sting any less, but it’s the right thing. Otherwise Curt Flood would have lost.

  6. Price’s departure leaves a huge whole, Bleed.

    He was the rotation’s leader.

    While their front four are still pretty solid (Cobb, Hellickson, Archer, Moore), they’re gonna have to lead by committee and not use the loss of Price as an excuse.

    No one’s gonna feel sorry for ’em.

  7. It sucks, indeed. There’s an All-Star squad of ex-Rays drawing pay checks all over MLB. Small market teams have a very small window, every 20 years or so, to catch lightning in a bottle and make a short playoff run. Surprisingly, the Rays stretched that out for a few years. It was fun while it lasted.

  8. Hanogram…

    We essentially have to resort to winning with unproven prospects and aging veterans they get on the cheap.

    Once someone who’s farm-raised become too unaffordable, they’re gone with the wind.

  9. Chris

    All of this could have been avoided , if Stuart Sternberg was amenable to taking on a partner with deep pockets willing to pay the big bucks to bring big named players to this baseball club. Instead he bitched and whined about getting no help for a new venue and showed, he is way in over his head . I’ve repeated that statement to you in various pieces you’ve written down the years, concerning the Rays and you have never acknowledged what I said was actually right on the spot concerning the organization. Like I said fans concerning the team remain delusional and prefer seeing apathy rather than a full blown effort from the ownership group.

    What use is stating the Rays are profitable (often stated by yourself) when they are provided an assist courtesy of the MLB hierarchy by way of the luxury tax scheme implemented by MLB ?

    Price’s career with the organization was exemplary but it is unfortunate he was unable to fulfill a personal goal of winning a World Series’ title with baseball franchise.

  10. Yes, Triple SC!  It Sucks!!  I remember Price’s debut in 2008! I still have the Baseball Digest magazine featuring Price as the Rays post season “secret weapon.” And Lester is gone from our Red Sox, among others.  I know the emphasis is on the loss of small market teams, but loss of Lester had to be mentioned. We have to lean on each other’s shoulder! Lol! We should both be used to this by now, but still never easy to see talented players leave our beloved teams. Truly does SUCK.
    Dee Dee

  11. Your last sentence says it all Chris…baseball’s trade deadline provides excitement for only those who can afford it. I just find it to be another lesson in economics none of us really needs to be taught…again.

  12. Al…

    With what revenue would you like for them to do that? No shrewd business owner will continue to dump money into a losing investment. So why would anyone expect Sternberg to spend tens of millions, or rather hundreds of millions in the team, when there’s no way he’s going to see a return on that money?

    I can’t possibly blame them for not wanting to lose money.

  13. Dee Dee…

    At least the Sox have money to play with. They just dumped salaries to rebuild in the off-season, which they’ll have the money to do. Heck, there’s even talk of Lester re-signing.

    The Rays have no such means.

    Oh, and stay tuned. Your post will be the next one up. Tell all your friends.

  14. Why thank you, Burnsy.

    I was quite fond of that last sentence myself.

    With the money they’re not paying Price, the Rays should have enough money to tie up loose ends like paying Zobrist and Cobb and probably have enough to land another player or two.

    They’ve been known to spend their money wisely in the past. Let’s see if they continue to do so and whether the Price move pays off in the long run.

  15. Chris

    No shrewd businessman ? Have you looked at the owners within baseball ? What makes you think they are shrewd to begin with ? Other than the Steinbrenners . the ownership groups of the Red Sox , Cardinals , Dodgers , Tigers , A’s and Angels , indicate to where there is said to be acute acumen being shown in this sport when it comes to owning a baseball team ?

    What has Sternberg really achieved during his tenure as an owner of this franchise ? Year in and year out, more of the same thing from this organization and the comments from the ownership have now become repetitive , mundane and damn well boring . Either do whatever it takes , or sell the ###king team . Which is it ? Or are the fans willing to still accept the excuses and mediocrity season in and season out ?

    The Rays have been cheap-skates all along dating back to the days of Vince Naimoli . Perhaps you have forgotten those years of ineptitude during his ownership tenure ?

    McIlroy is now the most dominant golfer on the PGA Tour and his win of the event at the Bridsgestone Invitational proved that very fact . Woods goes down again, with a recurring back injury. I guess he won’t be on Tom Watson’s Ryder Cup squad in September , given his health issues ?

    For your consideration

    tophatal …………….

  16. Yes I knew you’d go there with the money the Red Sox have and Rays have not. But I still had to share my loss.
    Poor Rays. I’ll be at the Trop soon-wearing Rays gear this time since they will be hosting the Yanks.
    Dee Dee

  17. Al…

    The GMs of the teams you mention also have a lot more money to work with. They’re not strapped like some of the smaller market teams.

    I’d say overall the Rays have done a pretty job of competing. Heck, they’re usually in the race every year at 1/3 the payroll.

  18. Tough for Tampa fans to lose such a talented player and a good personality…. clearly had a good head on his shoulders and was an anchor to the rotation. As you said though, it is “business as usual”, and that’s unfortunate. The city has to find a way to get a new stadium, and perhaps some income could show. Either that, or they move away.

  19. There’s no new talk about anything of the sort, Kev, at least not publicly.

    There’s no guarantee that building a brand new stadium on this side of the water will bring fans in droves plus, as of yet, there’s no way to pay for any such stadium.

    Until then, the team is forced to operate within their means and that means, having to trade away players before they get to unaffordable.

    The good news is that that won’t happen again in the foreseeable future as most of the guys that remain on the roster are locked up for some time.

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