Thursday, February 25, 2010

2010 Team Analysis: Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays:

2009 Record: 84-78

General Manager: Andrew Friedman

Manager: Joe Maddon

Organizational Philosophy: pity the poor Rays! Here is a franchise doing everything right; they draft well, they scout well, they can crunch numbers and stats with the best of them and they have taken this formula and found success through their miraculous World Series run in 2008.  Last offseason, most analysts figured the Rays had the talent and capability to dominate not only the AL East but all of baseball until 2014. However, youth, regression along with a lack of overabundant finances have conspired with one another and have seemingly transformed the Tampa Bay Rays into a very good but not-quite-good-enough team.

Obviously, if the Rays were in the NL East or AL Central talk would center on them being huge playoff contenders but being stuck in the AL East only makes things harder.  Since coming on board in 2005, GM Andrew Friedman took a directionless franchise and installed a sense of purpose from top to bottom.  Friedman knew the Rays would never enjoy the financial benefits the Yanks and Red Sox shared so he implemented a greater focus on player development that installs talent and depth in pitching and offense.  The Rays also use their resources to find value in players disregarded by other franchises, it's a strategy now used by most MLB teams (Astros and Royals seem to be a few of the exceptions).

Looking ahead to 2010, I do expect the Rays to fully contend despite their unfortunate geographical position on the AL map.  I also look forward to them coming up with new operational strategies not yet shared with the public that will give them advantages to compete against both the two reigning superpowers and all of baseball.

2010 Commitments:

Starting Rotation:

James Shields ($2.5M)
Matt Garza ($3M)
Jeff Niemann ($400K)
David Price ($1.9M)
Wade Davis ($400K)


Rafael Soriano ($7M)
J.P. Howell ($1.8M)
Dan Wheeler ($3.5)
Randy Choate ($700K)
Grant Balfour ($2M)
Lance Cormier ($1M)
Andy Sonnanstine ($430K)
Dale Thayer ($400K)

On the field:

C: Dioner Navarro ($2.1M)
C: Kelly Shoppach ($2.2M)
1B: Carlos Pena ($10M)
2B: Ben Zobrist ($415K)
SS: Jason Bartlett ($4M)
SS: Reid Brignac ($400K)
3B: Evan Longoria ($950K)
LF: Carl Crawford ($10M)
CF: B.J. Upton ($3M)
RF: Matt Joyce ($410K)
OF: Desmond Jennings ($400K)
DH: Pat Burrell ($9M)

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