Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Andrew Friedman skeptical of calling Tampa Bay Rays the AL East favorite

An unusual thing has happened to the Rays on the way to Monday's opening of spring training in Port Charlotte: They've gone from underdogs to favorites.

Having been an unexpected and overachieving entrant in the playoffs three of the past four years, the Rays, after improving their lineup to go with dominant starting pitching and premium defense, are becoming the early chic pick in industry conversations and media predictions to get to the World Series.

It's enough to make an executive vice president call for a reality check.

"We have a chance, depending on how things come together, to be a very good team," the Rays' Andrew Friedman said. "But for anyone to say in February that we're better than the New York Yankees, I have a hard time with that being that they're stronger than they were last year, and they won the division pretty handily in 2011.

"The Red Sox for four months of the (2011) season were one of the best teams we've seen in the last 10 years, so the fact is they're going to be an incredibly tough team. I find the reports of them being an underdog amusing. And the Toronto Blue Jays are really talented and kind of flying under the radar a little bit."

So though Friedman obviously feels good about what the Rays have done, he's not buying the narrative that the balance of power in the AL East has shifted.

Especially since the bank accounts haven't. The Yankees are projected to have a major-league-most $200 million payroll, the Red Sox (despite their supposed "penny-pinching") around $178 million and the Rays — after a 50-plus percent increase —at about $65 million.

"We play in an incredibly difficult and competitive division," Friedman said, "and not only are we short-stacked relative to our direct competitors, but they are also incredibly well-run as well. So I think that motivates and challenges all of us, we know that we have to approach things differently, we have to work harder to try to overcome some of the disparity in revenues."

Which means from their view, nothing has really changed.

MONEY MANAGER: Manager salaries are tough to track down, but with an annual average of $2 million in his new three-year deal, Joe Maddon would rank in the middle third based on current contracts.

Among those reportedly making more: Dusty Baker (Reds), Bruce Bochy (Giants), Ron Gardenhire (Twins), Joe Girardi (Yankees), Ozzie Guillen (Marlins), Jim Leyland (Tigers), Charlie Manuel (Phillies), Mike Scioscia (Angels) and Bobby Valentine (Red Sox).

Had Maddon not signed and become a free agent, he likely could have gotten $4 million to $5 million a year. This season, he'll be in the bottom 10 again, making about $1.4 million.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Nonroster INF Will Rhymes, a scrappy former Tiger, could be an interesting candidate for a job; some Rays people are already calling him the infield version of Super Sam Fuld. … Maddon's Hazleton Integration Project will be featured on ESPN's Outside the Lines today at 9 a.m. … ESPN.com's Jim Bowden gave the Rays a B- for their winter. … Shannon Magrane, daughter of former TV analyst Joe, has advanced to the top 40 on American Idol. … CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman was among those praising the deal to extend Maddon's contract: "Of course, the Rays did the right thing. They always seem to."

Comments
Donít call it a comeback: Jonny Venters return to majors with Rays much more than that

Donít call it a comeback: Jonny Venters return to majors with Rays much more than that

BALTIMORE — First, think of what you were doing on Oct. 5, 2012, and how much has happened in your own world since then.That will give you a time frame.Next, think of the challenge of rehabbing from two Tommy John surgeries and a third procedur...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Rays Journal: A win over ex-mate Cobb, and in a record way

BALTIMORE – The Rays knew there would be all kinds of mixed feeling seeing longtime former teammate Alex Cobb pitching against them in Orioles orange.And they made sure he didn't enjoy it.The Rays knocked Cobb out in the fifth inning, and rolle...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays bring Jonny Venters back to majors

Rays bring Jonny Venters back to majors

UPDATE, 5:34: Venters, understandably, was humbled and happy to make it back. "It's hard to put into words how I'm feeling," he said. "It's been an emotional day."Venters was in uniform in the Durham clubhouse during rain delay when he got called in ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Orioles, weather permitting (again)

For starters: Rays at Orioles, weather permitting (again)

The Rays and Orioles are going to try again to play tonight, though the tarp was on the field this afternoon and a light rain falling with heavier precipitation expected later.The Rays, who called up veteran reliever Jonny Venters this afternoon, are...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rays up next: at Orioles, 7:05 Wednesday

Rays up next: at Orioles, 7:05 Wednesday

Wednesday: at Orioles7:05, Camden Yards, BaltimoreTV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)Probable pitchersRays:  RH Jake Faria (1-1, 5.82)Orioles: RH Alex Cobb (0-2, 15.43)On Faria: Coming off quality start vs. Rangers, allowing Shin-...
Published: 04/25/18
Carlos Gomez says he was guilty of only one thing in Sundayís epic walkoff homer celebration

Carlos Gomez says he was guilty of only one thing in Sundayís epic walkoff homer celebration

BALTIMORE – Carlos Gomez is perfectly willing to explain the specific elements that went into his epic celebration tour around the bases following Sunday's walkoff home run.The bat flip and raised arms were his initial reaction to how well he h...
Published: 04/24/18
Updated: 04/25/18
Rays Journal: On the early rainout, pitching plans, medical matters, more

Rays Journal: On the early rainout, pitching plans, medical matters, more

BALTIMORE – If the Rays were going to get rained out Tuesday, they were happy  the Orioles made the decision at a good hour, around 5 p.m."I think they probably did the right thing in the fact that they knew there's a bunch of rain coming,...
Published: 04/24/18
Rays-Orioles postponed, doubleheader planned for May 12

Rays-Orioles postponed, doubleheader planned for May 12

UPDATE, 6:06: The Rays will stay in rotation, so Faria will slide back a day and pitch Wednesday, vs. Cobb, and Archer will get an extra day's rest and pitch Thursday, against RHP Dylan Bundy.Also of note, Cash said 3B Matt Duffy (right hamstring str...
Published: 04/24/18
For starters: Rays at Orioles, facing Cobb, weather permitting

For starters: Rays at Orioles, facing Cobb, weather permitting

The Rays are set to get their first look at an old friend tonight, as Alex Cobb will be on the mound for the Orioles, weather permitting.Heavy rain is forecast for the Baltimore area, though Orioles officials seem confident there will be a window for...
Published: 04/24/18
Rays up next: at Orioles, 7:10 Tuesday

Rays up next: at Orioles, 7:10 Tuesday

Tuesday:  at Orioles7:05, Camden Yards, BaltimoreTV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish) Probable pitchersRays:  RH Jake Faria (1-1, 5.82)Orioles: RH Alex Cobb (0-2, 15.43)On Faria: Coming off quality start vs. Rangers, allowing ...
Published: 04/24/18