Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays make overdue decision, send Tim Beckham to minors

BOSTON — For the second time in less than a week, the Rays took action to part ways with a player who has been the subject of considerable consternation.

Though, once again, your immediate reaction was what took them so long.

Having released oft-injured and questionably motivated Desmond Jennings on Saturday, the Rays decided after Wednesday's 8-6 loss to the Red Sox they had seen enough, at least for now, of Tim Beckham, who after making yet another baserunning blunder was optioned to Triple-A Durham.

If you are keeping track, which can be hard to do, that's three such mental mistakes just on this road trip by Beckham. And it's the latest of an ongoing series, on the bases and occasionally in the field, during a season in which any good he does seems to be washed away by bad.

More galling, it comes at a time when manager Kevin Cash has been openly annoyed and critical of the players for making too many.

And amazingly even worse, it was the same one Beckham made over the weekend in Houston and had been talked to about: not hustling to score when there was a potential third out being made on the bases.

"It is disappointing," Cash said.

Beckham had a co-conspirator Wednesday, when the Rays were looking to build on a 4-1 lead in the fourth. Kevin Kiermaier made an admittedly "really dumb, dumb play" in trying to stretch his two-out single to a double, especially with Evan Longoria, their top hitter, coming up.

But that didn't absolve Beckham for not running hard from second to home, and it cost the Rays a run when Kiermaier was thrown out before Beckham made it across the plate, umpire Gary Cederstrom waving off the run.

Cash said both Beckham and Kiermaier were to blame for the play, but Beckham's mistake was clearly the more egregious.

"Definitely the not hustling," Cash said. "That is required of us. And probably the easiest part to do in baseball."

Cash could have — and maybe should have — taken immediate punitive action and pulled Beckham from the game, as he did earlier this season when Steven Souza Jr., another of their repeat offenders, did not hustle to first base.

Cash said he didn't do so for bigger picture reasons, in that they committed to giving Matt Duffy, the starting shortstop, the day off to rest his sore left Achilles and didn't want to force him into action.

There did seem to be other options, such as moving Nick Franklin there or, in what probably would have been an extreme reaction, giving up the DH and using Brad Miller at short.

But maybe Cash already knew then what action he and baseball operations president Matt Silverman would take after the game, and that Beckham would soon be gone.

The demotion was not announced until after Cash had done his interviews and the clubhouse was closed to the media, but Beckham didn't have anything to say anyway, relaying word through a team spokesman that he declined to comment.

Beckham has always been the subject of ample criticism anyway, essentially for not being Buster Posey.

The Rays' decision to make Beckham the No. 1 overall pick of the 2008 draft rather than Posey, the Florida State-produced catcher who has gone on to become a repeat All-Star and an MVP for the three-time world champion Giants, has been one of the most costly mistakes in franchise history.

And Beckham has only made it worse with his slow track through the minors, a drug suspension, injuries and, once he would get to the majors, incessantly inconsistent play and repeated errors of judgment.

His mistakes, obviously, were hurting the team. Worse, allowing him to stay in the big leagues and keep making them, as if there was an entitlement clause, was sending the wrong message throughout the organization.

If Wednesday's loss after the how-could-he-do-that-again mistake was the cost to make this move, and this point, it was well worth it.

Now it will be interesting to see when, or if, Beckham plays again for the Rays.

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

Comments
No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Here’s the one thing we definitely know:Rays officials headed home from the winter meetings and back across I-4 Thursday without making deals to trade any of their bigger-name, higher-paid players. Not closer Alex Colome, not third...
Published: 12/14/17
Are Tampa Bay Rays going to make a major deal involving Alex Colome, others? Well …

Are Tampa Bay Rays going to make a major deal involving Alex Colome, others? Well …

UPDATE, 4:02: It doesn't sound like the Rays and Cardinals will be making a deal today, Derrick Goold writing for the St. Louis Post Dispatch that Cardinals execs "leave the Walt Disney Dolphin resort with good feel for what Tampa Bay would be willin...
Published: 12/14/17
Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

LAKE BUENA VISTA — LHP Jonny Venters got as far as Triple A in September. Now the former All-Star is positioned to make it all the way back to the majors for the first time since 2012, re-signing with the Rays and headlining Thursday’s announcement o...
Published: 12/14/17
Veteran Jonny Venters, prospect Joe McCarthy among 13 Tampa Bay Rays spring invitees

Veteran Jonny Venters, prospect Joe McCarthy among 13 Tampa Bay Rays spring invitees

Inspiring veteran LHP Jonny Venters and intriguing prospect 1B/OF Joe McCarthy are among 13 players invited to major-league spring training camp with the Rays.Others coming as a result of signing minor-league contracts with invites are: RHP R.J. Alan...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa Bay Rays lose RHP Burch Smith in Rule 5 draft, keep Nick Ciuffo

Tampa Bay Rays lose RHP Burch Smith in Rule 5 draft, keep Nick Ciuffo

The Rays lost RHP Burch Smith in Thursday's Rule 5 draft but were happy to see him get an opportunity in Kansas City.They also were pleased to hang on to C Nick Ciuffo, who was left exposed but not selected.Smith, 27, was acquired from the Padres as ...
Published: 12/14/17
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

UPDATE, 11:09: RHP Steve Cishek, who was a very effective addition to the Rays pen last season, has reunited with pitching coach Jim Hickey, agreeing to a deal with the Cubs.UPDATE, 10:40: Like most teams, Rays officials are heading out of the meetin...
Published: 12/14/17
Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

As part of its deal to buy a massive package of 21st Century Fox assets, Disney will acquire Fox Sports Regional Networks, which control the local cable rights to a slew of professional teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning.Assu...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Without getting into specifics – especially the who and the where – Rays officials are for the first time talking optimistically about making a trade before the winter meetings end Thursday.Speaking at around 5:15, senior VP Chaim Bloom s...
Published: 12/13/17

Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in...
Published: 12/13/17
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

UPDATE, 5:55: Trade talks apparently picked up this afternoon, perhaps related to previous activity by other teams, and for first time Rays officials sound like something could happen tonight."At this point today, some of those conversations are movi...
Published: 12/13/17