1. Rays

Jones: Rays need a shakeup

Rays catcher Hank Conger strikes out swinging to end Thursday's game. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
Rays catcher Hank Conger strikes out swinging to end Thursday's game. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
Published Jul. 8, 2016

Fire Kevin Cash? Ax Matt Silverman? Trade Evan Longoria?

Everything should be on the table for the Rays.

Ship Chris Archer to the bullpen? Take Drew Smyly out of the rotation? Get rid of both catchers?

Something to consider, for sure.

No idea is too crazy, no suggestion is too outlandish.

Hire an exorcist. Turn over the buffet table. Hold a players-only meeting. Hold a meeting to find new players. Then have a meeting with those players.

Whatever it takes.

The point: Do something, Rays. Do anything.

Enough is enough. Actually, the Rays rounded "enough" about two weeks ago.

This simply can't continue. It's hard to remember the last time the Rays were this bad. You have to go back to the green-wearin', Vince Naimoli-ownin', Lou Piniella-managin' Devil Rays. Even the diehard fans are about to check out, if they haven't already.

It's bad and getting worse. The Rays left town Thursday following another loss — their 19th in their past 22 games. That's the worst 22-game stretch in franchise history. Let that sink in for a moment.

They limp into Boston for three games and then, mercifully, have an All-Star break that can't get here soon enough.

If you watched this team closely on the just-concluded 3-8 homestand, you surely noticed the body language suggesting it would rather do just about anything other than play baseball. It's not that the players have quit or don't care. It's more like they are a bad team that knows they're a bad team and are waiting for something to go wrong.

And something always goes wrong.

If it's not crummy starting pitching, then it's an unreliable bullpen. If it's not an inept offense, then it's a leaky defense. Every day the Rays find a new way to lose.

Take Thursday's 5-1 defeat to the Angels. Rookie Blake Snell pitched his tail off but lost because his teammates gave him more errors than runs while he was in the game.

This is what happens when you're a bad ball club. That's really what it comes down to. The Rays are a bad team, and this is a lost season. The question isn't whether the Rays will finish last but how many games will they lose. Right now they're on pace for 97 losses. Of late, their games aren't even competitive.

How did this happen? Well, there are three types of bad teams.

There is the rebuilding, starting-over team with a bunch of prospects looking to the future. That's not Tampa Bay. The Rays have way too many veterans, and expectations were way too high.

That means the Rays are one of the other two types: gross underachievers or vastly overrated. Maybe they're a little of both. Neither is good.

That's why someone needs to be held accountable. The Rays need to show that this isn't acceptable.

"We've been very honest and up front," Cash said. "We are frustrated, and we're not pleased with the way things are going. The only way you get out of that is to start winning some ball games."

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Don't expect massive changes. Major overhauls during the season — such as firing a manager or GM, or turning over the entire roster — simply isn't the "Rays Way."

But my question is: Why not? How can you watch this team and accept the notion that everyone's job is safe? How can the answer be to keep running out the same personnel day in and day out, and expect different results?

This idea that the solution requires nothing more than patience is irresponsible.

Look, when you're in the type of funk the Rays are in right now, things tend to seem worse than they really are. Losing 19 of 22 is freakishly bad and is unlikely to continue. In the midst of such avalanches, it's easy to overreact. And to be fair, a knee-jerk reaction often isn't the most prudent. The Rays lost 96 games in Joe Maddon's second season and you saw what happened when the Rays decided to keep him.

But the 2016 Rays go well beyond this bad stretch. We're past the halfway point of the season. We're in too deep to think that somehow everything will magically turn around in the second half. Nothing that has happened in the first half suggests the Rays are better than what they have shown.

Let's be honest. It has been awhile since the Rays have been contenders. This will be their third consecutive losing season, and the arrow is pointing down.

So here's what the Rays need to do over the All-Star break: They need to take a good, hard look at everything and evaluate everyone. Look at the GM. Look at the manager. Look at the scouting director. Look at every single player. Figure out what the problems are and make the appropriate changes.

This isn't to suggest Cash should be fired or Silverman should be fired or everyone needs to be traded. But it is to suggest that owner Stu Sternberg get his rear end down here, hold round-the-clock meetings and make some hard decisions.

My advice: Trade your most valuable veterans and start over with promising kids. It might mean more losing, but at least there would be hope for the future. At least there would be a purpose.

What can't continue? The status quo.


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