Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays' win Monday reminds us what might have been as they miss playoffs

ST. PETERSBURG

It would be easy to pat the Rays on the back today and say, "Nice try, fellas."

You could point out how they missed their best player for three months and weren't eliminated from making the postseason until early this morning, the second day of October and, technically, the next-to-last day of the regular season.

You could admire their fight, how they never gave up, how they won all those games down the stretch to keep their slim playoff hopes alive longer than anyone could have imagined.

You could recognize how they're going to win right around 90 games. You could applaud that they're just one of four teams to have a winning record over each of the past five seasons.

Yes, it would be easy to do all of that.

And it would be wrong, too.

This is not a season that should be celebrated, but one that should be regretted. Teams like this, windows like this, don't come along often and the Rays let a season get away.

So as you look back on the 2012 Rays season, here are a few things to consider.

This is a disappointing season

A team with this much pitching, a team with this good of a manager, a team with this much experience should not be where the Rays are today, wondering why — and how — they missed the playoffs. This was a team picked by many to win it all. This is a season when more teams than ever make the playoffs. And the Rays are out despite having the best pitching in baseball. Not just this year, but in recent memory. They have the most dominant starting rotation in the majors and a shutdown bullpen. Twenty-game winner David Price could win the Cy Young. So might closer Fernando Rodney.

Pitching like that is supposed to playing in World Series in October, not playing golf.

Oh, what could have been

When you watch Alex Cobb scatter two hits over seven innings as he did in Monday's 5-3 victory against the Orioles, you are reminded just how good and deep this starting rotation is.

When you see the relievers hang on and Rodney get his 47th save, you are reminded just how good and deep the bullpen is.

When you see late-inning magic like the Rays put together for the go-ahead runs, you still wanted to believe this team had a little of last season's pixie dust leftover in its pockets.

But if you watched Monday night and saw all of those things, you couldn't help but shake your head and think about how special this season could have been, how special it should have been.

What went wrong

One of the best fielding teams in baseball forgot how to catch and throw for big chunks of the season. An organization so good at finding role players, such as Jeff Keppinger, swung and missed on major parts such as Luke Scott, Carlos Peña and Jose Molina. But, most of all, it was a team that couldn't hit, particularly when Evan Longoria was out of the lineup.

So instead of waxing poetic about the spunk of this pesky small-market club, you can't help but ask "what if?"

What if Longoria hadn't missed three months? What if the Rays had done a better job replacing him while he was out? What if Peña's contract had been written in invisible ink?

You look back and wonder why the Rays didn't deal one of their 47 live arms for just one heavy bat. You wonder what would have happened if they had moved Ben Zobrist to shortstop earlier in the season, started Keppinger more and had any production at all out of the catcher position.

And did I mention Longoria's injury?

Final thought

This is what will drive Rays fans crazy this winter. If the Rays had made the playoffs, they actually might have done some serious damage, like winning-the-whole-thing damage.

Look, we've become spoiled in these parts. If this was 2008 again, this would have been a special season. But a winning record and playing meaningful games late in the season aren't enough anymore. Today, the Rays will relive all the games they let slip away to keep them out of the playoffs. They should be dreaming about all the games they could have won in late October.

What a shame.

tom jones' two cents

Comments
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 ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays prospect Adames hits for cycle

Rays prospect Adames hits for cycle

Willy Adames, the Rays top position player prospect, touched all the bases in hitting for the cycle in Triple-A Durham's Monday's win over Buffalo.Adames doubled in the first inning, singled in the fifth, tripled in the sixth and completed the rare f...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Former Rays pitcher Danny Farquhar “progressing well’ after surgery

Former Rays pitcher Danny Farquhar “progressing well’ after surgery

As former teammates with the Rays and throughout baseball share thoughts and prayers, RHP Danny Farquhar is "progressing well" in a Chicago hospital after suffering a hemorrhage caused by a brain aneurysm on Friday.The White Sox on Monday released th...
Published: 04/23/18
Alex Cobb and Logan Morrison have ex-Ray vision. Here’s what they see.

Alex Cobb and Logan Morrison have ex-Ray vision. Here’s what they see.

ST. PETERSBURG — Absolutely, Alex Cobb was saying over the phone, it's going to be weird pitching Tuesday against the Rays.The organization that he owes so much for rearing him since high school, standing by him through assorted injuries, enabl...
Published: 04/23/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays win on Carlos Gomez’s walkoff home run

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays win on Carlos Gomez’s walkoff home run

Carlos Gomez, who had been struggling, delivers a two-run, walkoff home run as the Rays sweep the Twins for the first time at Tropicana Field. Rick Stroud discusses the moment and the celebration that followed Gomez's first career walkoff hit in toda...
Published: 04/23/18
Rays are suddenly swinging hot bats, but will it last?

Rays are suddenly swinging hot bats, but will it last?

ST. PETERSBURG — Good pitching and hitting go hand in glove, but the Rays did not look like a team that could swing the bats very well until this completed homestand.In their series sweep over the Twins, Tampa Bay scored 8, 10 and 8 runs. ...
Published: 04/22/18
Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Rays-Twins

Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Rays-Twins

–Yonny Chirinos may be the Rays fourth starter, but it seems to be in name only. He was lifted after pitching 4 2/3 innings against the Twin on Sunday, the shortest start of his career and his second-shortest appearance.  "Going into the g...
Published: 04/22/18
Rays’ Carlos Gomez hits two-run walkoff homer to beat Twins for series sweep

Rays’ Carlos Gomez hits two-run walkoff homer to beat Twins for series sweep

ST. PETERSBURG — With every swing, there is a chance Carlos Gomez is going to do something extraordinary with the baseball bat.He may swing so violently that he spins himself into the ground as if he were an oil drill. Or, you could see him sna...
Published: 04/22/18
For starters: Rays vs. Twins, going for the first series sweep of the season, 1:10 p.m.

For starters: Rays vs. Twins, going for the first series sweep of the season, 1:10 p.m.

Rays pitcher Yonny Chirinos is no longer just part of a bullpen day, he's the No. 4 starter and who goes to the mound at 1:10 p.m. against Phil Hughes to try to help Tampa Bay attempt to complete a three-game sweep of the Twins.Catcher Wilson Ramos g...
Published: 04/22/18
Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Members of the Rays organization sent their thoughts and prayers to former teammate Danny Farquhar, who was hospitalized Saturday night in Chicago in stable but critical condition after suffering a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm.Farqu...
Published: 04/22/18