1. Rays

It's time for Rays to start selling

The Rays should gather a few assets. Evan Longoria, pictured. Alex Cobb. Chris Archer. Wil Myers. Matt Moore. Hang onto them. And try to rebuild around them, Gary Shelton writes. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times]
The Rays should gather a few assets. Evan Longoria, pictured. Alex Cobb. Chris Archer. Wil Myers. Matt Moore. Hang onto them. And try to rebuild around them, Gary Shelton writes. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
Published Jun. 19, 2014



Sell now.

Sell pretty much everyone.

Mark down the infielders. Discount the outfielders. Run a blue-light special on the pitchers. Slash the prices on the bullpen. Print coupons. Offer two-for-one deals. Turn Tropicana Field into Crazy Andy's House of Bargains.

Sell vigorously. Sell desperately. Sell furiously.

It is time, before a bad season settles into a bad reality. The dead-last Rays, 17 games under .500 and sinking like a rock in water, lost another game Wednesday afternoon. This time, it was 2-0, and the Rays gave every impression they would not have scored if the game had gone on until a week from Sunday. If then.

Remember 2008, the year the Rays came from nowhere? Evidently, this is the year when they go back. There has never been a season as disappointing as this one for the Rays, not the Hit Show, not the 106-loss season. None of them. If it gets any worse, Ben Grieve is going to start in rightfield again.

And so you start over again. You exhale, and you grab a fresh canvas. You swallow hard, and you begin again.

You trade David Price.

You trade Ben Zobrist.

You trade Matt Joyce.

Most importantly, you try to trade in today for a better day.

Look, this is not about assigning blame for the season that has wandered off course. There was nothing wrong with the Rays trying to squeeze one more good season out of their window. If nothing else, executive vice president Andrew Friedman has been smart enough to deserve that. It was as big a surprise to him as to anyone that the pitching rotation would be shredded, and the offense wouldn't be good enough, and the bullpen would suffer, and the defense would be sporadic.

That said, the pressure on Friedman is as great as ever, because this doesn't just look like a team having an off season. This looks like a team whose shortcomings have caught up with it. This looks like a team that doesn't have enough power, enough speed or enough clutch hitting to survive. This looks like a team where the focus fades in and out like bad radio reception. This looks like a team that has worked very hard for last place.

And so, some five weeks before the trading deadline, it is time for Friedman to let the rest of the American League know that his guys can be had for the right price. And his Price can be had for the right guys.

Yes, the Rays are better than this. But are they good? Ask yourself: Where are all the All-Stars here? Where is all the greatness? Where are the teams that make the Yankees quake in the night?

Be honest: If you were ranking the teams of the American League, where would you have the Rays? Tenth? Twelfth? Fourteenth?

Do not fool yourself by the familiarity of the names. Look at the production. It isn't there.

So what can you do?

You trade Grant Balfour.

You trade James Loney.

You trade Yunel Escobar.

Sadly, it is time for the Rays to reload. Price will be gone soon enough as it is. It is time to see what his return might be. Might a contender who can smell success offer more than another one might in the offseason? It is time to see.

Zobrist, while short of being a star, could bring something in return. Same with Joyce. Put it this way: Do you see the Rays winning big with those guys? Really?

Ask yourself: Have you ever seen a team that hits less with men in scoring position? Desmond Jennings and Sean Rodriguez are hitting .226, and David DeJesus is hitting .222, and Escobar is hitting .197, and Zobrist is hitting .105, and Kevin Kiermaier is hitting .091, and Jose Molina is hitting .031.

Frankly, there has been enough talk about bad luck and bad breaks. This is how a last-place team looks, and this is how a last-place team plays.

So you gather a few assets. Evan Longoria. Alex Cobb. Chris Archer. Wil Myers. Matt Moore. You hang onto them. And you try to rebuild around them.

In another era, the Rays held onto Carl Crawford instead of trading him. In one after that, they held onto B.J. Upton instead of trading him. Both times, however, the playoffs were at stake. This time, they are not.

So you trade DeJesus.

You trade Juan Carlos Oviedo.

Maybe you even trade Jennings.

No, the Rays are not a team that usually deals in widespread changes. They are normally not reactionary. They have survived because they are one of the least reckless teams in the major leagues.

Then again, the current regime has never been in this deep a hole before. And so they should think about trading almost everyone.

In particular, they should try to trade last place.

You know, before it moves in for good.


  1. Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg (right, in pink shirt) talks with reporters during a briefing at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, California on December 10, 2019. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Tampa Bay Rays]
    Also, a peek into their thought process on why standing pat is bad, as was Pat Burrell, and other things they’ve learned.
  2. Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg talks with reporters during a briefing at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, California on December 10, 2019. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Tampa Bay Rays]
    Principal owner says staying full time in Tampa Bay remains unlikely, so the focus remains on sharing games with Montreal.
  3. Agent Scott Boras faced a lot of questions from reporters at the winter meetings on Tuesday. [MARC  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Game’s top agent says Rays have been unappreciated in their market. Also, they should think of adding a veteran starter.
  4. Tampa Bay Rays Tommy Pham (29) works to clean out his locker area for end of season on Oct. 11. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Whatever concerns the Padres had about Pham’s elbow apparently were resolved as the deal goes through as planned.
  5. Rays manager Kevin Cash had more than a few points to make during his Q&A session on Monday in San Diego. [MARC TOPKIN  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Beyond the opener, Mike Zunino, Tommy Pham and Brendan McKay, here’s the rest of the story from Cash in San Diego.
  6. Yonny Chirinos may join the Rays' rotation full time next season, possibly signaling an end to consistent use of the opener. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    Yonny Chirinos and Ryan Yarbrough did well enough that the Rays could go back to using five traditional starters.
  7. The Rays' Tommy Pham played through elbow injuries at the end of last season. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
    Padres say they are still “working through” some things with results of physical, likely concerning his elbow.
  8. Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow (20), right, and Tampa Bay Rays catcher Travis d'Arnaud (37) walk back to the dugout after the first inning in Game 5 of the American League Division Series Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 in Houston. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    The cheating scandal and sign-stealing investigation will be a popular topic during this week’s winter meetings.
  9. Steven Souza Jr. hit 30 home runs for the Rays in the 2017 season while improving his defense and baserunning, but hit only .239. [Tampa Bay Times]
    Talented and entertaining outfielder is a free agent after being non-tendered by D-backs, and Rays do need some help.
  10. Could a reunion with outfielder Steven Souza Jr., shown during a 2016 game, be possible for the Rays?
    What they’ve done so far, what they’re looking to do, Hall of Fame possibilities, and rumblings.