Rays stick with their formula
Depending on your perspective, the Rays season can reasonably be branded a success or a failure. Yes, they won 92 games in the regular-plus-one season and beat Cleveland in the AL wild-card game, but again, for the third time in four years, they couldn't get through a best-of-five Division Series.
There will be changes for next season, because there always are with the budget-driven Rays, including the possibility, as you may have heard, of trading ace David Price.
But if the flaw was in the philosophy of how they construct the roster, that is not going to change.
In short, an emphasis on pitching with a missive to figure out how to score more than they allow.
Essentially, a pitching-first agenda for the entire organization, from scouting and drafting through player development in the minors to the majors.
"We want as many good young players as we can, but if we're going to be short one area or the other, it has to be on the offensive side," executive VP Andrew Friedman explained. "We can piece together position players that give us a chance to win 90-plus games. We can't do that on the pitching side, especially in the rotation.
"Ideally we'd be great in both. That's always the goal. But for us, we have to not lose sight of what has allowed us to have the success we've had over the last six years, and not knee-jerk the other way and get into a situation where we're scoring more runs but we're allowing a lot more.
"That's not a brand of baseball that we feel like we can win in the American League East."
TRAVELIN' MAN: Manager Joe Maddon made the first official journey in his new 40-foot RV last week from Tampa to Hazleton, Pa., for a family wedding, and now turns it around this week to head to Charleston, S.C., and Key West. "All good," he texted, presumably while his wife, Jaye, was driving.
RAYS RUMBLINGS: Of the baseball-most 13 Rays minor-leaguers suspended for drug-related reasons since the start of 2012, nine were at the Class A level or below. … Though Dave Martinez's interview for the Cubs manager job went well, talk among Chicago media observers is that Padres bench coach Rick Renteria might be the favorite. … The cost of the unsuccessful acquisition of RHP Jesse Crain goes beyond the minor-leaguers, LHP Sean Bierman and INF Ben Kline, and cash sent to the White Sox; the Rays also paid Crain $1.57 million in salary, plus invested extensive man hours by the training staff. … Spring training is set to open for pitchers and catchers Feb. 14 and the full squad Feb. 19, with the first exhibition at the end of the month. FanFest is Feb. 22. … There's chatter about the Rangers being among the more aggressive teams in pursuit of Price. … The Rays' Class-A Bowling Green team mascot, Axle the Bear, invited the Dodgers' unauthorized dugout-dancing Rally Bear to the Hot Rods' April 3 opener. … Evan Longoria's Tampa sports bar, Ducky's, is moving toward its grand opening; check duckystampa.com. … C Oscar Hernandez was ranked No. 2 among short-season Class A N.Y.-Penn League prospects, LHP Enny Romero 12th among Double-A Southern Leaguers by Baseball America.
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.
Add it up
The Rays' goal is to score more runs than they allow. Here is how they've done, and how they ranked in the AL, over the past six seasons:
Year for allowed Diff.
2013* 700 (9) 646 (5) +54 (6)
2012 697 (11) 577 (1) +120 (2)
2011* 707 (8) 614 (1) +93 (4)
2010* 802 (3) 649 (2) +153 (2)
2009 803 (5) 754 (7) +49 (5)
2008# 774 (9) 671 (2) +103 (3)
# reached World Series
* reached Division Series