Blog Entry

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

Posted on: October 4, 2011 7:19 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 11:09 pm
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RaysBy Evan Brunell

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s
R.I.P. series...

Team name: Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 91-71, 2nd place AL East, 6 games back. Wild card champions, lost to Rangers 3 games to 1 in ALDS
Manager: Joe Maddon
Best hitter: Ben Zobrist -- .269/.353/.469, 20 HR, 99 RBI
Best pitcher: James Shields -- 16-12, 249 1/3 IP, 11 CG, 4 SHO, 2.82 ERA, 65 BB, 225 K

The Rays have now reached the postseason two years in a row, but dropped its second straight ALDS to the Rangers, making it to four games before the season ended. It was a remarkable run for a team that had to remake its bullpen and replace Carl Crawford in left field.

2011 SEASON RECAP

Tampa began the season as an afterthought in the eyes of many. After all, how were the Rays supposed to contend with New York and the revamped Red Sox? That didn't stop the team from producing, though, posting a record over .500 each of the first three months. The team got quite a bit of attention in April when Manny Ramirez retired instead of serving his 100-game suspension for failing a drug test for the second time. They weathered it though, despite losing someone that was supposed to be integral to the lineup. Sam Fuld dazzled the team for a while, but the Rays limped through the season offensively until Desmond Jennings was promoted in late July.

July wasn't kind to Tampa, finishing with a 11-15 record but they turned on the jets after that, going 35-20 and winning the wild card on the last swing of the regular season, with Evan Longoria's homer disappearing over the fence minutes after the Red Sox completed their collapse.

2012 AUDIT

The Rays have a decent amount of overturn coming, set to lose two starters from their lineup in Casey Kotchman and Johnny Damon. Backstop Kelly Shoppach and reliever Juan Cruz also played integral roles, but the important thing to notice here is that none of Tampa's important players are free agents. That's huge, and while the Rays will doubtless be making some moves -- and if you see below, I have them making two significant trades -- they should enter 2012 with a team fairly recognizable from this year. This is a team poised to contend, and the riches in the minors will keep on boosting the team. Their postseason may have been cut short, but they'll be back plenty of times in the coming seasons.

FREE AGENTS

RP Juan Cruz
DH Johnny Damon
RP Kyle Farnsworth ($3.3 million club option)
1B Casey Kotchman
C Kelly Shoppach ($3.2 million club option)

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • The Rays need to make room in the rotation for Matt Moore and fielded calls on James Shields this trade deadline. They need to field more calls and deal him to Cincinnati for first baseman Yonder Alonso, backstop Ryan Hanigan and a pitcher. Alonso can step in at first or DH, Hanigan can step in as the backstop and the pitcher can either be a back-end starting pitcher -- which Cincy has plenty of -- or a solid reliever. The move would give the Rays cost-control over Alonso for years and inject some thump into a lineup that could use another strong hitter.
  • Let Kelly Shoppach go and wait on Casey Kotchman and Johnny Damon's market. Shoppach could be brought back on a smaller deal, but $3.2 million is too much for someone who hit .176/.288/.339, and fell under .200 in batting average for the second straight year. Similarly, Kotchman had a solid season with the bat but the Rays shouldn't rush to pay him, as there's a reason he's bounced from team to team. Let the market dictate Kotchman's price, then maybe you entertain bringing him back. The same applies for Damon. If the price is right on either, one of them can return to play first or DH opposite Alonso.
  • Trade B.J. Upton to the Nationals for Ian Desmond and Roger Bernadina. Upton just can't justify his salary anymore on the Rays, and the Nationals have big interest in Upton. Desmond can fix the shortstop hole in Tampa, while Sean Rodriguez, Ben Zobrist and Bernadina can help fill the hole in the outfield left by Upton's departure.
  • Pick up Kyle Farnsworth's option and use the money saved from Shields and Upton to sign Mike Gonzalez. The Rays need a shutdown lefty in the bullpen, and Gonzalez can be that man. J.P. Howell used to be, but coming off a bad year, you need another, reliable, lefty in the bullpen. Then, use the rest of the money to bring back Kotchman or Damon, or go after someone like Jason Kubel.
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Comments
peulouy
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 17, 2011 8:03 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 7, 2011 11:27 am
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

Hello there, Only pulled over simply by to talk to your internet page and in addition imaginary I have announce Since i celebrated myself.



Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: November 6, 2011 7:08 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

I was preparing to suggest a trade for Alonso with Cincinnati, until I read it here.  Cinn. needs a front of the rotation quality pitcher for Alonso, who should be a revelation for the Rays.  I would prefer the Reds ask for Moore or Hellickson, but Shield's experience could benefit them now.
They Rays could use a bullpen arm like Ondrusek or Bray - lefty.



Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: October 19, 2011 10:34 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

Brilliant posting. I definitely concur with pretty much anything you will definitely have penned.



Since: Feb 26, 2009
Posted on: October 6, 2011 6:37 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

Nats won't deal Desmond.
Lombardozi didn't show that much and Desmond's second half numbers are what Washington is looking at.

Now, Bernadina is a different story. Even Lombardozi.
I know the Nats really like Upton, but they won't give up on Desmond this quick.

But....you never know!



Since: Apr 26, 2010
Posted on: October 6, 2011 5:32 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

Wasn't it like a week ago that everyone was talking about the Rays chances because of Shields? Now the best thing is to trade him? I won't ever understand the way these guys at CBS think. My kids could write this trash.



Since: Nov 11, 2007
Posted on: October 6, 2011 4:07 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

Besides, the Rays have a Bernadina type in Sam Fuld.



Since: Nov 11, 2007
Posted on: October 6, 2011 4:06 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

I'd take that deal of Desmond and Bernadina for Upton but not sure the Rays would make it.  While he had a decent second half, Desmond has pretty much reached his ceiling.  Mid .200s with 10-15 HRs and maybe 20 SBs.  Bernadina is a 4th OF at best.  Then again, with the exception of the HRs, that's about what you get from Upton.  If a deal like that went down, the Nats probably move Espinosa to SS and have Lombardozzi, who could also lead-off, at 2B.  Not sure Upton has the best attitude and the Nats did seem to have some good team chemistry this season so, that may be a downside.  Then again, maybe a change of scenery does Upton some good.



Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: October 6, 2011 3:04 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

As a Reds fan living in Tampa, I love the idea of trading Alonso for Shields. However, I think the Rays would want one of the Reds two young stud catchers - Meseraco or Grandal - in the deal and could throw in a decent A pitching prospect to make it a fair deal as they are loaded with young arms.

Lets get it done!



Since: Jun 26, 2008
Posted on: October 6, 2011 2:03 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

I think the only ones speaking of a poisounous locker room are some of the fans of the Sox as well as the haters of the sox.. Everyone always wants controversy. There is no doubt that they weren't clicking as a team towards the end for whatever reasons, but the main would be poor perfomance on both sides of the ball..Mainly the pitching though.,.,


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