Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays say they're ready to find another way to win

Rays manager Joe Maddon, left, and executive vice president Andrew Friedman believe that despite their offseason losses, they’re capable of defending their AL East title.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Rays manager Joe Maddon, left, and executive vice president Andrew Friedman believe that despite their offseason losses, they’re capable of defending their AL East title.

PORT CHARLOTTE — Dark clouds of smoke from a brush fire just beyond the Charlotte Sports Park provided an ironic backdrop Tuesday as top Rays officials tried to take the focus off the massive number of players they lost from their division championship team and look at the squad they have.

The Rays already do things differently, from how they build a team that can compete with the Yankees and Red Sox despite a payroll less than one-third the size to how they play the game with an emphasis on speed and defense, even to how they think.

So faced with the extreme makeover required by the departure of 11 free agents and two key players in trade, manager Joe Maddon found inspiration in the realization it was just an extension of their philosophy. And from that sudden revelation came forth the theme he will share with the pitchers and catchers before today's first workout and reinforce regularly throughout the spring:

Another Way.

"The Rays way and 'Another Way' are almost synonymous, and that kind of smacked me in the face this offseason," Maddon said. "Going into this year, we're going to have to figure out another way to win. And we're going to do that."

Without the gimmicky math of 9=8 or '09 > '08 or the acronymology of WIN (What's Important Now), Maddon believes he has a way to move the conversation past the losses — "a slight exodus,'' he claimed — of former stars such as Carl Crawford, Carlos Peña, Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza, Rafael Soriano and six other relievers and onto what, in their own ways, the players they have are capable of doing.

"There's all these little kind of like flaws about us in a sense, and in spite of it, we've still been able to overcome these things to the point where we've become rather successful," he said.

"So coming into this season, why not just choose another way to get back to the playoffs. Minus Carl, minus Carlos, minus Jason, minus Matt, the bullpen, these very important cogs we've had the last year and the last couple of years. That speaks to all the little quirkiness about us. But at the end of the day, a lot of this quirkiness really reveals the character and the team concept we play from within."

There are some things they will have to do a different way, such as not having — unless someone emerges or arrives — a designated closer in their still under reconstruction bullpen that they acknowledge is the biggest key to their success. "I'm going into the season pretty much fully well expecting to go committee-wise," Maddon said.

Also, more of an emphasis on offense (given the additions of veteran hitters Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez), on baserunning and defense (as more teams join them in playing that style) and maximizing matchups with even more platooning and lineup shuffling.

And players who were given somewhat soft landings in past seasons — such as infielders Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez, outfielder Matt Joyce, catcher John Jaso — will be presented with additional opportunities and responsibilities.

"I'm looking at them now becoming the household names,'' Maddon said.

Despite the losses, the Rays remain optimistic, figuring that with the core of returning players, led by Evan Longoria, David Price and B.J. Upton; the quality of their starting pitching; and the additions they have made, there will still be a way.

And if anything, executive vice president Andrew Friedman said they are taking it as even more of a challenge to construct and create a team that remains capable of winning the 90-plus games to remain competitive in the AL East.

"That's what we're shooting for," Friedman said, "and to get there we have to do it a different way."

"Another way," Maddon corrected.

"Another way," Friedman said, "is even better."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Rays say they're ready to find another way to win 02/15/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 7:27am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  2. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. gets extra day off to let hip heal

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RF Steven Souza Jr. ran in rightfield before batting practice under the watchful gaze of the Rays training staff and manager Kevin Cash. Afterward, Souza told Cash he could use one more day of rest before playing on the left hip he strained Wednesday in Oakland.

    Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brad Miller (13) gets a hug from right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) after his solo home run in the fourth inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, July 21, 2017.
  3. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: FS1; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

  4. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Rangers game

    The Heater

    Looks like LF Corey Dickerson is coming out of his funk at the plate — .186 average in past 16 games entering Friday. He had two hits Wednesday in Oakland and three hits Friday against the Rangers. Okay, one was an infield hit that bounced high in front of the plate, but the other was a long home run to …

  5. History shows Ole Miss upheaval tough to overcome

    College

    After Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze resigned Thursday, with the opener six weeks away, offensive line coach Matt Luke is being thrown into an interim head coaching position. He will try to save a season that already had been scarred by a self-imposed bowl ban for NCAA violations.

    After coach Jim Tressel resigned, Ohio State went 6-7, including a loss to Florida in the Gator Bowl, in 2011.