Thursday, November 23, 2017
Sports

Success of World Series champion San Francisco Giants could validate Rays' philosophy

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As disappointed as the Rays were to not be in the playoffs — and doesn't it seem like months since they played? — there should be some solace that the Giants won it all.

That's because the Giants are built similarly to the Rays: with a foundation of pitching and defense.

"That's been our recipe all along," RHP James Shields said. "Hopefully we'll continue to do that, add some bats, and do what they did this year."

Of course, it's not that simple.

Though there are other similar elements, such as speed and aggressiveness, the Giants did a much better job of putting the ball in play (1,097 strikeouts, with a pitcher in the lineup, compared to the Rays' 1,323) and executing than the Rays.

While acknowledging the value of pitching, Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said his goal in constructing — and in this case, reconstructing — the roster is to maximize the difference between runs scored (they had 697 in 2012) and allowed (577).

"I would sign up for us scoring 400 runs next year if it meant we allowed 100, and I'd sign up for us allowing 1,000 if I knew we'd score 1,400," he said. "So it's the relationship of both, and how we can put together the best 25-man roster we can.

"Our strengths and weaknesses aren't necessarily a philosophical mind-set as much as it is optimizing the guys that we have and the depth we have and trying to put together the best team."

Which starts on the mound.

SHIELDS UP: Whether it's the Dodgers, who were a hot topic last week, or the Angels, Rangers, Royals (who do have several interesting young hitters) or whomever, Shields is ready for another winter of trade rumors.

"Obviously my name's been thrown around a lot," he said. "I'm just going to go about my business and not really worry about it. Obviously I want to be a Ray. I've been here 12 years, this is my home. If it does happen, it'll be a sad day."

FREE FOR ALL: The Phillies' interest in CF B.J. Upton is gaining attention, with mlbtraderumors.com and cbssports.com predicting he lands there. Foxsports.com picks the Nats. … ESPN's Keith Law ranks Upton No. 2 overall among all free agents. … The mlbtraderumors.com forecast also has the Rays signing OF Ichiro Suzuki, with RHP Joel Peralta going to the Mets. … Three ex-Rays on the market worthy of at least consideration: OF Matt Diaz, DH Delmon Young, 1B/DH Aubrey Huff. … Other names to watch initially: OF Melky Cabrera, RHP Manny Corpas, C/DH Mike Napoli, 1B/DH Kevin Youkilis. And via trade, 1B Mike Carp.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: At $10.25 million, Shields will have the highest salary in franchise history, topping 1B Carlos Peña's $10.125 million and Carl Crawford's $10 million in 2010. … Finalists for the BBWAA awards — such as AL Cy Young — will be announced Wednesday night; David Price is sure to be among them. … The online gambling site bovada.lv has the Rays 22-1 to win the '13 World Series. … Two former Rays were named to new Indians manager Terry Francona's staff: Mickey Callaway as pitching coach, Tampa native Kevin Cash as bullpen coach. … Friedman and staff head out this week for the annual GM meetings. … Good luck to communications coordinator Andrew Heydt, who heads off to his home-state Twins. … The Joe Maddon aura apparently now extends to football, CBS announcer Ian Eagle telling the Sun-Sentinel Dolphins coach Joe Philbin "is like the Joe Maddon of football, a highly principled man and an excellent teacher."

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