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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
 
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

Since: Aug 18, 2011
Posted on: October 6, 2011 8:21 am
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

how pathtic everybody is the red sox will continue to spend money and the rays will be gone in no less than 5 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Since: Dec 22, 2008
Posted on: October 5, 2011 11:35 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

I dont see Upton & Shields playing for someone else next year, at least not until the trade deadline if they are out of contention. Tampa has been willing to let players walk and collecting compensation picks & without those 2 guys I dont see them being even a .500 team. Kotchman will be back as well as Farnsworth who was suprisingly good this year. Tampa seems to understand the long grind of the season and battle every night of it no matter who is in the lineup, its just a shame that a lot of Tampa-St Pete residents dont want to watch them play.



Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: October 5, 2011 9:39 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

Mike Gonzolez a "shut down" lefty?? If by shut down you mean he`s on the DL and shut down often then yes I agree.  If you trust him with a lead you must not have scouted any Orioles games he ever pitched....brutal. Also Kayle Fartsworth isn`t to be trusted with a pay raise either. The little cheap skate franchise that could has the starting pitching, but they need a lot of work to contend again. At least they have a genius manager. 



Since: Aug 4, 2011
Posted on: October 5, 2011 8:53 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

good team with no fans



Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: October 5, 2011 8:45 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

The shrewdest move would be out of town.



Since: May 26, 2011
Posted on: October 4, 2011 8:45 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

 I totally agree with trading Shields and Upton. Shields finally showed how good he can be this season, but he has been inconsistent through his career and an organization like the Rays needs to rtade players at the right time and they most likely will never get the same for him that they will before next season. Also, Upton has tons of ability, but seems to only put it together for six weeks each season. I was very surprised he wasn't traded at the deadline, but he definitely did a lot late in the season to get them into the playoffs.



Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: October 4, 2011 8:12 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

Something tells me if Carl Crawford stayed on the Rays he wouldn't have been a burden. Also Crawford didn't have a good season but a poisonous locker room that ran off a manger who won two world series was responsible for most if not all of the Sox's problems.
Pathetic starting pitching was the reason for the Sox problems, and a questionable bullpen..and terrible contracts given out to average players. Desmond Jennings is all of what Crawford was and more, at a better price..and younger. Even Gardner for the Yankees is a better option.Some teams such as the Red Sox think they can just open up there pocket books and will continue to have success.They could have a room full of apes at type writers with the way there franchise is run and would get the same, if not a better result. Teams like the Rays genuinely have to work there butts off to get any success what so ever.There smart, they saw that Crawford was an expendable player whose skill set could easily be replaced in the farm system.There stocked with prospects that opens a lot of deals to be made.

There was no talk of a "poisonous" locker room before? Funny how failure breeds excuses. 



Since: Feb 2, 2011
Posted on: October 4, 2011 7:51 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

Something tells me if Carl Crawford stayed on the Rays he wouldn't have been a burden. Also Crawford didn't have a good season but a poisonous locker room that ran off a manger who won two world series was responsible for most if not all of the Sox's problems.



Since: Aug 27, 2010
Posted on: October 4, 2011 7:31 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

Yes, they had the challenge of replacing Carl Crawford in left field.  But at least they didn't have the burden of PLAYING Carl Crawford in left field in 2011 -- that was one of the factors that sunk the Red Sox.


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