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Rays Tales: How the Tampa Bay Rays assembled AL's best pitching staff

The Rays have the best pitching staff — top to bottom — in the American League, ranking first (through Friday) with a 3.24 ERA, 1,148 strikeouts and a .230 opponents average. • But it didn't just happen that way. Rather, it's "the culmination of different draft picks and trades and signings over a period of years," executive VP Andrew Friedman said. Also a mix of age, skill, talent, experience, contract status. Once they get "the five best starters,'' they finalize the bullpen, having enough "different handedness and different looks" for advantageous matchups. • The result? "One through 12," manager Joe Maddon said, "it's been, actually, phenomenal to watch it all develop." • How they put it together, at a cost of less than $26 million for the current 12:

Burke Badenhop, RHP

Age: 29

Role: Middle reliever, ground ball specialist

Stats: 1-2, 2.95 in 58 games, .259 opp. avg.

How acquired: Trade from Marlins, December 2011, for C Jake Jefferies

Salary: $1.075 million

Contract status: Arbitration-eligible through 2014, free agent in 2015

Alex Cobb, RHP

Age: 24

Role: No. 5 starter

Stats: 9-8, 4.28 in 19 starts, .269 opp. avg.

How acquired: 4th-round pick, 2006 draft

Salary: $485,800

Contract status: Arbitration-eligible 2015-17, free agent in 2018

Wade Davis, RHP

Age: 27

Role: Middle reliever (converted starter)

Stats: 3-0, 2.21 in 45 games, .195 opp. avg.

How acquired: 3rd-round pick, 2004 draft

Salary: $1.5 million

Contract status: Signed through 2014, team options 2015-17

Kyle Farnsworth, RHP

Age: 36

Role: Middle reliever

Stats: 1-3, 2.49 in 24 games, .133 opp. avg.

How acquired: Free agent from Braves, signed January 2011

Salary: $3.3 million

Contract status: Free agent after season

Jeremy Hellickson, RHP

Age: 25

Role: No. 3/4 starter

Stats: 8-10, 3.33 in 26 starts, .244 opp. avg.

How acquired: 4th-round pick, 2005 draft

Salary: $489,500

Contract status: Arbitration eligible 2014-16, free agent in 2017

J.P. Howell, LHP

Age: 29

Role: Middle reliever

Stats: 1-0, 2.89 in 48 games, .205 opp. avg.

How acquired: Trade from Royals, June 2006, for INF Fernando Cortez, OF Joey Gathright.

Salary: $1.35 million

Contract status: Free agent after season

Jake McGee, LHP

Age: 26

Role: Middle/late reliever

Stats: 5-2, 2.01 in 58 games, .179 opp. avg.

How acquired: 5th-round pick, 2004 draft

Salary: $484,200

Contract status: Arbitration eligible 2015-17, free agent 2018

Matt Moore, LHP

Age: 23

Role: No. 3/4 starter

Stats: 10-9, 3.66 in 27 starts, .241 opp. avg.

How acquired: 8th-round pick, 2007 draft

Salary: $1 million

Contract status: Signed through 2016, team options 2017-19

Joel Peralta, RHP

Age: 36

Role: Setup man

Stats: 1-6, 3.63, 2 saves in 65 games, .188 opp. avg.

How acquired: Free agent from Nationals, December 2010

Salary: $2.175 million

Contract status: Free agent after season

David Price, LHP

Age: 27

Role: No. 1 starter

Stats: 17-5, 2.54 in 27 starts; .225 opp avg.

How acquired: No. 1 overall pick, 2007 draft

Salary: $4.35 million

Contract status: Arbitration eligible through 2015, free agent in 2016

Fernando Rodney, RHP

Age: 35

Role: Closer

Stats: 2-2, 0.70, 42 saves, in 65 games, .175 opp. avg.

How acquired: Free agent from Angels, signed January 2012

Salary: $1.75 million

Contract status: Team option for 2013 ($2.5 million)

James Shields, RHP

Age: 30

Role: No. 2 starter

Stats: 13-8, 3.88 in 28 starts, .252 opp. avg.

How acquired: 16th-round pick, 2000 draft

Salary: $8 million

Contract status: Team options for 2013 ($9 million), 2014 ($12 million)

Also pitching in

Chris Archer (trade from Cubs), Dane De La Rosa (free agent), Brandon Gomes (trade from Padres), Josh Lueke (trade from Mariners), Jeff Niemann (1st-round pick, 2004), Cesar Ramos (trade from Padres).

Rays rumblings

It's not just Boston's Bobby Valentine taking swipes at Rays manager Joe Maddon; Washington's Davey Johnson — still irked from their Joel Peralta pine-tar spat — sarcastically referred to Maddon as "my buddy in Tampa," then said "I could've called him something else, but I won't do that. I'm trying to clean my act up here." … With ESPN "releasing" today's game from potential coverage, Sun Sports picked it up, but, to stay within its total of 150, dropped Thursday's matinee in Baltimore. … Maddon was the overwhelming choice as most underrated manager in Sports Illustrated's poll of big-leaguers. … The 2013 schedule is due out Wednesday: The Rays open at home vs. Baltimore April 2, play interleague home-and-homes with the Diamondbacks and Marlins, visit the Dodgers and Rockies, host the Giants and Padres. … Good thing the Rays are, per ESPN the Magazine, the most affordable of all pro sports teams, or what would their attendance be? Oh, wait, they're last in the majors.

Got a minute? Alex Cobb

Something you're scared of? Tornadoes

Late-night snack? Quesadilla — it's fattening

Karaoke song if you had to? Free Falling (by Tom Petty)

Favorite TV show(s)? Boy Meets World, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Seinfeld

Celebrity crush? Sofia Vergara (from Modern Family)

Rays Tales: How the Tampa Bay Rays assembled AL's best pitching staff 09/09/12 [Last modified: Sunday, September 9, 2012 10:40am]

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