Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Alternate history: What wouldn't have happened if Rays had taken Weeks over Young

PORT CHARLOTTE

We don't know what would have happened had Devil Rays officials gone the other way on what was basically a coin-flip decision and taken Rickie Weeks with the first overall pick in the 2003 draft.

But we can tell you what wouldn't have happened, or at least not the way history unfolded, had they not instead drafted Delmon Young. Because if the Rays had not taken him …

• Young wouldn't have been with Triple-A Durham in 2006, tossed his bat at an umpire, gotten suspended 50 games and been turned into a pariah who was hit, intentionally, with the first pitch he saw that August after being promoted to the majors.

And …

• Young wouldn't have been traded after a solid 2007 inaugural full season, when he finished second to Boston's Dustin Pedroia in rookie of the year voting, to the Twins for shortstop Jason Bartlett and starter Matt Garza, who became key parts of the unexpected 2008 rise from downtrodden Devil Rays to rising Rays.

And …

• The Rays wouldn't have made it to the 2008 World Series, as Bartlett emerged as their most valuable player for his solidifying defense and steady offense and Garza won AL Championship Series MVP for beating the Red Sox in Game 3 and a thrilling Game 7.

And …

• They wouldn't have loaded up with a passel of prospects two years and another playoff appearance later, trading Bartlett to the Padres for infielder Cole Figueroa and pitchers Brandon Gomes, Cesar Ramos and Adam Russell, then Garza to the Cubs for starter Chris Archer, catcher Robinson Chirinos, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and outfielders Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer.

And …

• Archer wouldn't have gotten the same opportunity to develop into a top starter, earn a six-year, $25.5 million extension, make an All-Star team, do postseason work for ESPN, meet President Barack Obama in Cuba and emerge as one of the new faces of the game. Similarly, Fuld wouldn't have forged his Super Sam reputation for fearless and acrobatic catches in the Rays outfield, Gomes and Ramos wouldn't have been key parts of their bullpen for years, Figueroa wouldn't be working now in their front office and Guyer wouldn't have been traded (to keep the tree growing with prospects Nathan Lukes and Jhonleider Salinas) to the Indians and ended up in last year's World Series.

And …

• Young (probably?) wouldn't have ended up out of the majors before he turned 30, having delivered some big postseason hits for the Tigers (MVP of 2012 ALCS) and Rays (2013 wild-card game) but nothing since June 2015, while also getting involved in several ugly off-field legal incidents.

And …

• Weeks wouldn't be standing in the Rays clubhouse this week as a new addition, being praised and counted on to provide right-handed power, defense at first base and leader­ship from his 13 seasons in the majors, 11 — including a 2011 All-Star-worthy performance at second base — with the Brewers, who drafted the Orlando area native with the second pick in 2003.

•••

"It's cool," Weeks said. "It's crazy. That's how baseball is. Everything is full circle."

Understandably, Weeks, 34, hasn't spent much time thinking about how his life might have been different had Devil Rays execs Chuck LaMar and Cam Bonifay made the other decision. "Don't know, don't care," he said with a smile.

But, finally, getting a chance all these years to play for what he considers his hometown team, did Weeks think they made the wrong call back then?

"I'm not saying nothing," he said.

No need. We think we know.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

     
 
Comments
Raysí Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

Raysí Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

HOUSTON — Energy.That's what Kevin Kiermaier said he felt he'd provide most in rejoining the Rays Tuesday against the Astros after missing two-plus months recovering from thumb surgery."I like to think I bring energy on both sides of the ball, ...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

HOUSTON — The starting pitcher walked seven over seven otherwise solid innings Tuesday. That seemed weird enough for the Rays. Then the next pitcher they brought in was the one who started Monday's game. Even more bizarre.And then there was thi...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Marc Topkinís takeaways from Rays-Astros

Marc Topkinís takeaways from Rays-Astros

This is how odd LHP Blake Snell's night was — he became the first pitcher to work seven or more innings and walk at least seven since Edwin Jackson threw his 149-pitch, eight-walk no-hitter at the Rays on June 25, 2010.If you weren't aware of t...
Updated: 7 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

UPDATE, 6:45: Cash said Smith will continue to play a lot, getting time in LF and RF, meaning something of a rotation system for rookie Johnny Field and veteran Carlos Gomez.UPDATE, 4:49: Kiermaier is batting leadoff and playing center as expected, w...
Updated: 11 hours ago
So, how exactly did the Rays end up losing Monday?

So, how exactly did the Rays end up losing Monday?

The Rays lost Monday's game when Sergio Romo failed them in the ninth inning.Called on to protect what was whittled to a one-run lead from 4-0, Romo got off to a bad start, walking the first batter on four pitches and then allowing a single to the se...
Published: 06/19/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays continue to struggle in close games

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays continue to struggle in close games

The Rays blow a four-run lead in Houston and lose on a walkoff hit to the Astros in the opener of their three-game series. It's the 19th one-run loss for the Rays this season as they continue to struggle in close games. Fortunately, reinforcements ar...
Published: 06/19/18
Rays DFA Rob Refsnyder to make room for Kevin Kiermaier

Rays DFA Rob Refsnyder to make room for Kevin Kiermaier

The Rays made official after Monday's game that CF Kevin Kiermaier would be activated on Tuesday.And to make room on the 40- and 25 man rosters, they designated for assignment OF Rob Refsnyder.Acquired from the Indians for cash considerations just be...
Published: 06/19/18
Rays journal: A 4-0 lead disappears in loss at Houston

Rays journal: A 4-0 lead disappears in loss at Houston

HOUSTON — The Rays brought up several of their top prospects so they can get as much experience as possible.And Monday that included seeing how the relentless defending champion Astros worked their way back from an early four-run deficit to sco...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/19/18
Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella pondered upside-down pitching in 2005

Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella pondered upside-down pitching in 2005

HOUSTON — Well before the idea of using a reliever to open games, as the Rays did against the Astros Monday for the 12th time, and then bringing in a starter was even a gleam in the eyes of the current Rays staff, former manager Lou Piniella wa...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/19/18
Marc Topkinís takeaways from Rays-Astros

Marc Topkinís takeaways from Rays-Astros

RHP Ryne Stanek continues to look comfortable and confident as the game opener, retiring all five batters he faced. His six starts now cover a complete game, and he has allowed only two runs in the nine innings.OF Carlos Gomez's feelings about not li...
Published: 06/18/18