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The Rays are toast

Jun 5, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT

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I just taped today’s HBT Daily and in it we played the “dead or alive” game. I declared the Tampa Bay Rays dead. I did so based on how poorly they’re playing, how injured they are and the fact that they don’t have the horses or dollars to make big changes in the middle of the season.

David Schoenfield of ESPN is a bit more statistically-oriented than me, and he made the case today in more compelling statistical terms:

I looked up all teams over the previous 10 seasons that had won between 22 and 24 of their first 60 games. This provided a list of 26 teams off to bad starts similar to the Rays.

Only one of the 26 teams finished with a winning record and the average final record of those 26 teams was 67-95. Devil Rays, indeed.

Schoenfield says it’s time to trade David Price. I can’t say he’s wrong.

  1. rmdiv - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    Can I have your job?

  2. El Bravo - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    Hey Longo and Zobey both went deep last night. The turnaround just started. These are the Rays! They always do a lot with a little.

  3. jfk69 - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    And the Yankees are not far behind.
    Stick a fork in them. They are starting to look burnt
    McCann should be moved to first base NOW. 85 million for a 220 hitter who bats left handed and can’t hit the short porch in right.
    Where is Cervelli???

    • sabatimus - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      You really think Cervelli is a serviceable replacement?

      • jerze2387 - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:58 AM

        Im thinking theyd be better of having Girardi back behind the plate.

      • jfk69 - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        When my catcher starts putting down signs for pitches that I am having trouble getting over. Then blows me off and won’t put down any sign while looking over to the Yankee dugout like a little sissy boy. You bet I would have a problem.
        The shift has killed McCann. That and the fact he seems to have lost his power stroke. Even with the bandbox Yankee right field. He is looking more like Stewart by the day. Cervilli was raking to all fields for a 300 avg before he was hurt. Last but not least..
        Have you ever seen McCann run?
        Nobody else has either.

      • jfk69 - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:13 AM

        Yes ..spring
        While no fan of Aceves. McCanns actions that night infuriated me from a pitchers point of view.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:16 PM

        jfk69, teams don’t emply the shift against hitters who hit to all fields. I think McCann has a better excuse than most, seeing how he is learning a new pitching staff and a new division and league of batters. He probably does not have as much time to devote to his cage work or film of the opposing pitcher. I am fairly certain McCann will be fine.

        As for any disagreement between McCann and Aceves, they are both kinda a-holes so I am not going to try taking sides on that. Aceves might have a little more credibility in the argument if he wasn’t the worst pitcher on the staff though.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:43 PM

        raking to all fields for a 300 avg before he was hurt.

        It’s 2014, why are we still judging people by BA?

      • chc4 - Jun 5, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        Teams had been employing the shift on McCann for years. What’s killing him is his eroding skills.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:11 PM

        The entire team is hitting like crap save Ellsbury and Solarte. It might help if a few others do to see if it’s just the shift or something worse.

  4. sclobernocker47 - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    Hate to say it, but he’s right, and it is time to trade price. its been a great ride having him as a and ace since 08, but this season is done and lord knows we can’t afford him next year. Send him somewhere he compete for a title and get something in return.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:11 AM

      Time to trade Price to … the Cardinals! I’ve already worked out the starting idea of an offer that would give you back a pitcher with “contract control,” an outfielder with “contract control,” and a AAA 2B/SS to replace Zobrist, presuming Tampa lets him walk:

  5. TBaySlim - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    love the rays, but with all the injuries to this team i would just chalk it up to a off year an try to reload for next year

  6. imnotyourbuddyguy - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    If they’re gonna trade Price, may as well include Zobrist in the deal.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:12 AM

      Zobrist would be for a team that has to have a “filler,” unless it’s a team that wants to pick up his option year next year.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:15 PM

        Zobrist would be good for the Yanks because they could use his versatility all over the field, especially with the good players getting hurt all the time.

        Whether the Rays would trade him is another matter.

      • hittfamily - Jun 5, 2014 at 5:22 PM

        I’m usually not one to call names or say opinions are stupid, but only an idiot would think ANY team declines his option! Seriously an uninformed and ridiculous comment!

        The guy has been arguably the best player in baseball since 2009, and is on pace for a 4 wins above replacement season. MLB average is about 2. His option is for 7.5 million. He has no injury history, playing in 150+ games every year of his career. I mean seriously, he just dislocated his thumb and the Rays took 3 days to decide whether he goes on the DL or not. He missed the minimum amount of time, and hit a homerin his 2nd game back.

        Ben Zobrist is not great at anything. He is very good at everything though. He has speed, power, on base skills, good defense at multiple positions, and doesn’t get injured. When you are good at everything, that makes you extremely valuable!

        Omar Infante signed a 4 year 30 mil contact this offseason. That is 7.5 mil per season. Infante has been worth about 1 fWAR over his entire career. Zobrist was worth 11 fWAR in just his last 2 seasons. In 2006, Zobrist was a trade throw in. He will never be a trade throw in again. If he doesn’t net a top 100 prospect, he won’t be traded at all/

      • hittfamily - Jun 5, 2014 at 5:24 PM

        Edit: My 5 key sticks a little.

        Infante has been worth about 15 fWAR, not 1. Dayton Moore is a bad GM, but not that bad.

      • SocraticGadfly - Jun 5, 2014 at 7:30 PM

        He actually would fit the Yanks. And, if they’re OK with his declining bat, and age, I suppose they could blow the Steinbrenner bucks and at least pick up his option, or else offer a new deal.


        As for Hittfamily … I was thinking primarily in terms of the Rays declining his option, especially if they had someone cheaper to step in. That’s why, from the Cards, I explicitly mentioned Garcia as part of the trade.

        At the same time, as of next year, Zobrist will be two years older than Infante was this year when the Royals signed him. So, even with his versatility, I think the Rays would let him walk IF they had a cheaper option. If not, I think they’d be a bit hesitant unless they could get him to roll that 1/7.5 into a say, 2/12.

      • raysfan1 - Jun 5, 2014 at 8:15 PM

        The Rays will not let Zobrist walk. The Rays are many things but stupid isn’t one of them. They will not only retain him, they will demand an astronomical price for any trade–and will do that only if they think they can’t re-sign him. He and Longoria are the two most popular players on the team with the fans too.

      • hittfamily - Jun 5, 2014 at 9:52 PM

        You think that if Zobrist was a free agent, he would get a 2 year, 12 million dollar deal? Seriously? Wow. I don’t even have words.

        I know the Jays are in first, but I didn’t realize I hopped a Delorean back to 1992.

        If he was a FA right now, I’d say 4 years, 75 mil, and that accounts for decline. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs says teams are spending 7-8 mil per win right now. Over the past 5 years, Zobrist has posted 8.5 fWAR, 3.7 fWAR, 6.3 fWAR, 5.8 fWAR, and 5.3 fWAR. He’s worth a lot more than the 7.5 mil he’ll recieve next year.

        If they don’t trade him, they absolutely pick up his option. Even Jeff Loria picks that option up. If his option was for 25 mil, they’d pick that up too. And they do have cheaper options. They are loaded up the middle. Hak Ju Lee is a BA top 100 prospect. Sean Rodriguez is a 2 fWAR middle infielder. They just traded for Logan Forsythe. They have #1 overall pick Tim Beckham back next year. Kean Wong (Koltens bro) is tearing it up in the minors and will help in a few years.

        A team can legitimately expect 40 mil in surplus value out of Zobrist. He likely has more value than Price.

      • SocraticGadfly - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:24 AM

        I don’t know if he gets 2/12, but, if I’m Tampa … NOT “the league,” but Tampa, that’s where I start.

        And, I didn’t realize I’d gone ahead to 2040 and an atomic powered car. 4/75? Please, sir, put down the Kool-Aid.

        First, nobody literally gets $7M for every full point above WAR. Mike Trout would own Anaheim Stadium, if true.

        Per B-R, I’d realistically pay 7M for each point above WAA, a different critter. At that level, I could see 3/30 on the open market. I know I wouldn’t pay more, even allowing for relative scarcity at 2B.

      • SocraticGadfly - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:31 AM

        If you think Zobrist will produce more ultimate value than Price, I’m sure there are a few GMs who will gladly disagree.

        Now, back to Zobrist’s future contracts. A three-year deal would run through age 36.

        Looking at relatively recent history? Robbie Alomar’s last season was at 36. Lou Whitaker’s last full season was at 36. Bobby Grich’s last full season was at 36. Second base has a pretty rapid aging curve on the far side of 35.

  7. paint771 - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    It’s too bad, as the Rays haven’t really done anything wrong to deserve their fate – they’ve just somehow angered the baseball gods. It’s a rare year that I’d bet against the Rays to pull a season out of the hat, but yeah, this year looks like a complete wash. At the very least, they don’t have to worry about competing late, so can just sit back and pull strings on next year in terms of offloading twilight talent, while planning for a good draft position next year.

    • Old Gator - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:01 PM

      After watching last night’s fiasco, I must agree. The Rays’ awful play has nothing whatsoever to do with their position in the standings. They are where they are because of rotten karma, the antipathy of the baseball gods (and who knows, it was so easy to piss off Zeus and Hera, for all we know they might have it in for the team as well), and an endless concatenation of broken mirrors, black cats, goopher dust and pecadilloes from a parallel universe converging interdemensionally at Tropicana Tumulus.

      My suggestion for the Rays is simple: it’s out of your hands. Just keep playing exactly the way you have been playing and sooner or later all of this will pass.

  8. bigmeechy74 - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    I’m surprised they suck. They have a bunch of guys with “good gloves.” That matters so much! I love it when people talk about guys that bat .220 with 3 hr’s and say “but he has a good glove!”

    • SocraticGadfly - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      Why are you surprised? The numbers don’t lie. Per Schoenfield’s piece:

      Wil Myers is out for two months. Matt Moore is gone for the season. They’ve been outscored by 42 runs. Only the Diamondbacks, Phillies and Astros have a worse run differential.

      As for “glove guys,” this year, B-R has Loney at 1B, Escobar at SS, Longoria at 3B (yes), Joyce in LF and pre-injury Myers in RF all in negative numbers on fielding runs.

    • roundballsquarebox24 - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:14 PM

      It does matter. The Rays have not been defending their field like they normally do. If you can have pitchers who keep the ball low, and have some really good defense behind them, you will win a lot of games. Many teams win like this. Most games will be close games, and you just have to try to scratch in a few runs. Obviously, it is not ideal vs. having a lineup stacked with guys who can hit bombs and plug the gaps with ropes. However, the Rays have always relied on their great defense which has not showed up this year. This is exactly how the Pirates won so many games last year. Keep the ball in the park, play really good defense, and try to put up a few runs. This is what people meant last year when they said that the Pirates “always found a way”. Actually, a lot of games that people term “pitchers’ duel” because of the scoreboard, is actually a defensive duel. You don’t need to have a pitcher go out there and “dominate” to hold a team to a few or no runs if you can play a tight defense.

      • SocraticGadfly - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:35 AM

        One other thing to note is that Rays’ players’ dWAR will decrease as more and more teams follow the Rays into using shifts more, since dWAR is, of course, on a comparative basis.

  9. okobojicat - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    So, you’re saying the Cubbies have a chance for a winning record. Good to know!

  10. southpaw2k - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    “Only one of the 26 teams finished with a winning record and the average final record of those 26 teams was 67-95. Devil Rays, indeed.”

    So you’re telling me there’s a chance! YES!!!!

  11. rdillon99 - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    Even a .600 winning percentage from this point forward (which seems highly improbable) only gets them to 84 wins on the season…. They are done.

    • indaburg - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      Exactly. I did the basic math hence my question this morning on ATH–when is Opening Day 2015? This season is over for us. The best we can do is be spoilers.

      • hittfamily - Jun 5, 2014 at 5:40 PM

        I don’t want to be a spoiler. I want to lose every game from here on out. Anyone with 3 years or less remaining we are fielding calls on. In 2006, the Royals had the worst record in baseball with 3 games to go. They then somehow swept the Tigers in the final series, finishing 1 game ahead of the Rays. With the first overall pick of the 2007 draft, we got David Price. They got Mike Moustakas.

        If we can’t finish number 1 in the standings, I want # 1 in the draft standings. I don’t really trust Friedman come draft time, but with the new slotting salary system, he’d have been able to get Posey, instead of the cheaper, Boras-less Tim Beckham. I just don’t want to finish behind the Cubs, and have to get Theo’s leftovers.

  12. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    I wonder if they would trade within the division. Not doing so seems silly, as each side would have ample opportunity to flaunt their new pieces in fron of the other (unless it was a salary dump trade).

    The Yankees have some high end catching prospects, and at least a few OF prospects they could deal. Coupled with a desperate need for rotation and infield help, the two teams could match up. Prolly never happen though.

    • 18thstreet - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:46 PM

      I think teams believe that, if they’re going to trade within the division, they have to make the other team worse (along with making themselves better). It’s pretty hard to work out a deal if that’s true.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:49 PM

        But isn’t that silly? If the Rays are out of it, what do they care if the Yankees improve, as long as the Rays get a good return on Price or Zobrist? Why should they accept a lesser package in trade, just to “stick it” to the Yankees?

        I know that is the common thinking, but it seems small minded.

      • 18thstreet - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:56 PM

        I don’t really know. But it does seem as if intra-division trades are rare.

        I also think that it’s understandable that, if the trade goes wrong, no one wants to see the mistake show up in the home ballpark 9 times a year.

      • clydeserra - Jun 5, 2014 at 1:05 PM

        A’s and Angels traded Alberto Callaspo for Grant green last year

    • indaburg - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:28 PM

      The Rays’ tendecy is to not trade within the division. In their 15 year history, I could only find one trade within the division, a minor one with the Blue Jays which pre-dates the Sternberg era. Just wait until he’s a free agent and sign him for a huge contract, which Price has made no secret of wanting. That seems more the Yankee way.

      • cshearing - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:57 PM

        Price to Toronto: confirmed.

      • indaburg - Jun 5, 2014 at 5:26 PM

        Really? Source, please, and for what?

        I wouldn’t mind. I would much rather see him in Toronto than wearing pinstripes.

      • hittfamily - Jun 5, 2014 at 5:44 PM

        Price and Zobrist would make a lot of sense for Toronto. Unfortunately, Toronto doesn’t have the pieces. I don’t want their pot smoking, 5’8″ starting pitcher. His name escapes me, but when that is your #2 prospect, you can kiss the David Price sweepstakes goodbye.

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