Tell us how you really feel, Kevin. Fine in 10…9…8…7…
“Terrible. Terrible. It’s embarrassing,’’ he said. “We spend so much time on pace of play, let’s just the damn call right on the field. It’s terrible. They ought to be embarrassed. Feels like we got beat twice tonight.’‘
Actual salary: $30.5 million / Translated salary: $35.4 million
Highest-paid player: Miguel Cabrera / $7.5 million
Players over $1 million: four
Best position player: Ramirez / 5.3 WAR / $0.4 million
Best pitcher: Sergio Mitre / 2.3 WAR / $0.38 million
It’s hard to think of a more quintessentially Marlins team. Okay, actually, it’s not—you’ll see a few Marlins teams that are even more Marlin-y down below. This team, though, certainly looked like it had the young core of a perennial contender: Ramirez, Cabrera, Johnson, Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez, all 24-and-under. It’s hard to imagine a core this great getting away from any team other than the doggone Marlins.
Also only 25 at the time, with a ceiling as high as the sky and 16.2 career WAR under his belt before this season started was Dontrelle Willis. Oh Dontrelle, how we miss you. This would be the last season that Willis would throw 100 major league innings — plus he was fifth on the whole team in wRC+.
4. 2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays: 66-96
Actual salary: $24.1 million / Translated Salary: $28 million
Highest-paid player: Crawford / $4.12 million
Players over $1 million: six
Best position player: Carlos Pena / 5.5 WAR / $0.8 million
Best Pitcher: Kazmir / 5.1 WAR / $0.42 million
This isn’t the only year this is the case, but in 2007, Florida’s two teams barely combined to create the salary of a single mid-market team. In Tampa, this was the last year that the team was called the Devil Rays and it was also the last time they weren’t the coolest doggone team around, what with their storming into the 2008 World Series the next year.
In case you forget why that 2008 team was so surprising, things were still pretty rowdy with this 2007 version. Breakout contenders do not, for instance, tend to have players like Elijah Dukes taking hundreds of plate appearance. They tend to not have 5.53 staff ERAs. But, doggone it, that’s what happened. By 2008 Opening Day the Rays’ payroll nearly doubled, up to $43.7 million, with the team paying (comparatively) big bucks for Troy Percival and Cliff Floyd in free agency.
The Rays don’t seem to be attracting much notice this season and I wanted to highlight them. They lost their GM and manager during the offseason, traded away various players including ones who had been a key component of the team in the past, and didn’t make any big splashy free agent signings (as usual). Things haven’t been easy during the season either as Alex Cobb went out for the year without throwing a pitch, Drew Smyly only made three starts before going on the DL and is out for at least two more months, and Matt Moore won’t be back until sometime in June. Despite all this they’re in first place by a game and a half a little more than 1/4 of the way through the season. Whether they can keep it up remains to be seen (I’m guessing Logan Forsythe won’t keep that 136 OPS+ going) but so far they’re doing pretty damn well and deserve some notice.
With the help of savvy scheduling, the Rays are hosting the Yankees mid-week, and normally that’s a strong draw, but it’s supposedly a doubly-strong draw with A-Rod in the house and the Yankees leading the division. The Tampa Bay community is saturated with Yankees fans of old, so the numbers were anticipated to be decent this week. Instead, the opposite has happened:
- Attendance was at it’s lowest ever in franchise history for a Yankees game on Tuesday night, at 10,619.
- Then last night, the attendance was announced at 10,417 for the new all-time low featuring New York.
Of course, last night’s number was surely compounded by the Tampa Bay Lightning hosting Montreal and winning their division in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but the number is still rather close to Tuesday’s figure when the hockey team was travelling. Unless fan interests intersect directly with the NBA playoffs, of which the closest team playing is 500 miles away, then there’s not a good excuse.
Tampa Bay Rays president Brian Auld told a St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce lunch crowd Tuesday that baseball is the only sport that can create “its own sense of place” due to its 81-game home schedule.
“No other sport can do that,” Auld said.
Auld touched briefly on the long-running stadium impasse between the team and the St. Petersburg City Council, repeating the Rays’ mantra that a new stadium has to be good for the team and the region.
A new stadium could spark development, help solve the Bay Area’s mass transit quandry and create jobs, he said.
The City Council has scheduled a workshop to discuss the stadium situation for May 28. Rays owner Stuart Sternberg and Mayor Rick Kriseman, who saw his attempt to ink a deal scuttled by council in December, say they’re not likely to negotiate during the regular season.
The Rays have long said they need to evaluate possible stadium sites in Tampa and other parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. They have a use agreement to play at Tropicana Field that expires in 2027.
“This is the time in the process when I’d get a little more excited and start to focus on maybe a mid-June-ish or what part of June (to return),” Moore said. “It feels good. It’s nice to come to the park and have days like this.”
Cobb received PRP therapy, in where platelet rich plasma is injected to speed healing, during a visit to see noted specialist Dr. James Andrews.
Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said the team was still in “a wait-and-see mode’’ and it was “premature” to speculate about surgery. “He has had some tests performed and we’re awaiting results,’’ Silverman said.
I wonder if they’ll play “Seven Nation Army” every five minutes to make Orioles players feel at home.
Moving the series was a monumental task, but one the Rays have been able to execute under the leadership of VP of Operations Rick Nage, team President Brian Auld, and VP of Sales Brian Richeson. Nafe said the air has been like post season play, with sudden mobilization to make the series happen.
Tickets are general admission for the weekend, lower-bowl only, and according to Brian Auld the Rays will not make any profit off the series. There are no fees to purchase online for this series.
All revenue for the 18,000 tickets made available per game will first pay off the 700 staff it will take to run the series, then all profits will be given to the Orioles. Special offers have also been made to season ticket holders to the O’s Spring Training facility in Sarasota. Ticket prices were set by the Orioles in cooperation with Richeson.
Each team will have their mascots on hand this weekend, supposedly to create a more neutral environment, but I smell shenanigans!
“You’ll see us being really respectful of the fact that these games belong to Baltimore,” said Auld.
Before and after throwing out a ceremonial first pitch, with gusto, on Thursday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn chatted with team president Brian Auld and other Rays officials.
That level of banter is about all they can do for now, at least until St. Petersburg and the Rays work out a deal for them to discuss stadium sites on the other side of the bridges. Those talks are on hold, likely until after the season, after the St. Pete City Council rejected the last proposal.
“We still are willing to talk when they get the opportunity,’’ Buckhorn said. “We just want the Rays to be able to stay in this area. Until the city of St. Petersburg and the Rays come to an agreement, we truly are in the dugout. But when that day comes, I think the entire community will say, “Okay, let the Rays look, let them make the appropriate decision.” The decision may be Pinellas County, it may be Hillsborough. But they’ve got to have the ability to look.’‘
And though Jeff Vinik’s master development plan doesn’t include a stadium, Buckhorn said he was confident there are good options in downtown Tampa.
Former Devil Rays infielder Julio Lugo (2003-2006) has been charged in court with kidnapping, according to multiple reports out of the Dominican Republic.
Lugo last professionally played baseball for los Leones del Escogido, and last played stateside for the Braves in 2011.
Lugo’s arrest warrant was issued in the cities of La Romana and Santo Domingo for kidnapping and the posession of fire arms. According to the paper, Lugo and four men held their hostage and his girlfriend at gunpoint, demanding money that had allegedly been invested in a business venture.
A rough translation of the article includes how Lugo had, “always been willing to talk about it, assuring him that the money invested in the company, as well as that of other investors, was sure.”
This unconventional strategy is emblematic of the cutting edge of modern, in-game sabermetrics. With every team from the small-market Rays to the moneyed Dodgers now employing a host of analysts, all the obviously beneficial tactical techniques are already in use. All that remains are the scraps. So even as the tactics have become unconventional, the margins have become thin and the advantages minute. For clever front offices like the Rays, negotiating the brave new world of saber-equality may mean relying on subtle, trifling tweaks like reliever-first outings.
Does Uncle Charlie really believe the Rays will be better offensively?
The same brainy and creative 20-man baseball operations staff now run by Matt Silverman, who merely changed seats after a decade working alongside Friedman, and backed by the same cutting-edge computer system — still named Uncle Charlie — packed with proprietary data and research that is at the core of much of their decision-making.
The Rays are one step closer to moving to Paducah, Kentucky.
ch over a minor monetary amount, with many council members taking offense that the team was not interested in negotiating in public forums.
The sticking point were any profits that might have been had if the City redeveloped a portion of Tropicana Field’s 80-acres while the team still occupied the site. Under the current agreement, the team and City split profits equally….
The Rays owner has already made two intentions very clear: that the Rays must be allowed to explore all options in Tampa Bay for their next stadium in order to have a long term solution, and that the search will begin by 2022 with or without City Council approval due to necessity. The Team and Council are at odds.
Separately, Sternberg has also said that without a new stadium, the Rays will be sold and likely moved out of Tampa Bay. By denying consideration of the amended agreement, particularly after efforts by the Rays to re-negotiate the deal to meet the Council’s concerns, means the Rays are that much closer to leaving Tampa Bay.
The team is being backed into a corner, being legally unable to search for a new stadium means the ownership’s prospects of staying long term in the area are not bright. How will that impact their pending negotiations for a new television contract?
Welcome to Grantland’s 2015 MLB division previews. From now through next week, Jonah Keri and I will analyze each team in each division, focusing on offseason triumphs and failures, roster strengths and weaknesses, telling projections, revealing stats, and off-field story lines, and wrapping up with our over/under verdicts on each team’s projected record. As always, all overly pessimistic opinions should be blamed on the well-known grudge we bear your team, and only your team, because of that thing it did to us that one time that we’re still extremely bitter about.
“He has not done anything this spring to look like he’s lost range,” Cash said last week. “If I had to say, from spring training, this spring, I’ve had the benefit of seeing him his last two years in Cleveland, he looks better. … His body looks better. He’s moving really well.
“He’s made a couple nice plays where he is moving, soft line drives, a couple plays up the middle, and then a backhand play (last week) where he kind of pulled (first baseman James) Loney off the bag, but still he showed his range.”