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Sleepwalking Rays?

With the Tampa Bay Rays hoarding top draft picks for the better part of the decade, it was only a matter of time until they put an end to their misery. And while it was clear they were probably going to climb out the basement this year - a likelihood that increased when the Orioles showed up on Opening Day - could anybody honestly say they expected the plucky Rays to contend for a division title?

Clearly not. And today, it's obvious that the folks at MLB scheduling felt the same way.

After improving to 15-3 this season against the O's - in a cool 3 hours, 43 minutes -- the Rays packed up their tiny magic number and their crates of champagne for a 1 p.m. game in Detroit. Ouch.

Manager Joe Maddon isn't too thrilled about the tight turnaround, especially with his team just one win, or one Boston loss, away from clinching the division.

Not surprisingly, the Rays have mostly looked flat this afternoon, trailing 4-2 at Detroit in the seventh. Rays starter Scott Kazmir has been knocked out. Detroit's four solo homers had something to do with it. That said, Evan Longoria has just gone deep. He's known to start rallies. Stay tuned...

By Marc Carig  |  September 25, 2008; 2:55 PM ET
 
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Comments

Even if the Rays look a little sluggish today, I can't believe they'll have trouble winning one game in Detroit. Then, they can sit back and watch the White Sox and Twins battle it out for the right to get swept in the first round.

Posted by: John Dugan | September 25, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

His grumpy demeanor not withstanding, a healthy Elijah Dukes would/could have added 25 homers and close to 100 RBI's to that offense.

Glad we got him.

By the way, Glen Gibson, the pitcher we traded to the Rays for Dukes, put up the following numbers in the Sally and New York - Penn leagues this year:

2-8, 7.27, 135 hits, 55 walks in 100 innings and a .320 batting average-against.

Now, he might end up being a major league pitcher one day, but that's a streth to be sure, and Elijah Dukes is a sold major leaguer already. Had Dukes had a typical number of at-bats for a guy playing in 150 or so games, he would have put up these numbers:

.271 - 32 doubles - 4 triples - 26 homers - 88 RBI's - 26 stolen bases and a .393 on base percentage. On defense, he would have hat 18 assists or so.

I think this trade puts a few "plusses" into Jim Bowden's good-trade column, don't you?

Posted by: The Beltway Boy | September 25, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

They come up with some wacky scheduling sometimes. Looks like the Rays pulled to within 2 runs in the top of the 8th. I'd love to see them clinch that division. Living vicariously via their worst to first ride gives me hope for the future as a Nats fan. Schmuck at the Sun had an interesting piece on them (yeah, I was on the Schadenfreude shift today):

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/baseball/bal-sp.schmuck24sep24,0,3749610.column

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 25, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

eh, guess they'll have to get 'em tomorrow.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 25, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see there's a baseball blog now. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Shadowplay | September 25, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Schmuck is the guy's real name? Poor schmuck.

Posted by: Yid Kid | September 25, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

While you might want to attribute the Rays success to hoarding high draft choices, very few of the high picks contributed significantly to this team. Longoria and Upton were high 1st rounders and I believe Crawford was a high 2d. After that, Shields and Sonnanstine in the rotation were lower rounds. Other than that, there was not a major contributor that came through the draft.

Rotation - Kazmir (trade with Mets), Garza (see below), Jackson (trade with Dodgers for Hendrickson and I think Lugo).

Closers / key bullpen: Percival (signed as a free agent while recovering from injury and then resigned); Wheeler (acquired from Astros for either Ty Wigginton or Aubrey Huff); Balfour (waived by Twins); Hammel, Howell (system products but not major prospects).

Line-up: Navarro (Hendrickson / Lugo trade); Pena (originally signed to a minor league contract after being released by the Tigers and NYY the previous year and not resigned by the Red Sox); Iwamura (won rights for less than $5 million posting fee); Bartlett (see below); Hinske (low cost free agent); Floyd (end of career cheap signing). Remainder of the bench Zobrist (released by Nats), Gross (released by Milwaukee), W. Aybar (cast off from Braves), Riggans (system product but not a significant prospect).

Note that Bartlett and Garza (and a good pitching prospect) were acquired for Harris, Young, and an OF prospect. It's fair to say Garza would not have been on the table except for Young, and Young of course was a high pick uber prospect. Trading is not hoarding, of course, but you can call Garza one step removed from the draft.

Rays have had their fair share of bombs (passing Gavin Floyd and Mark Teixeira fro Dewon Brazleton, Wade Townsend, Jeff Niemann), and not protecting Josh Hamilton when he was on the verge of recovery was a bigger oops than trading ED for Gibson.

What it shows is not every high pick pans out, especially pitchers, and that, if done right, low budget cast offs can have great returns, despite the currently-accepted wisdom of the Nats blogosphere. It also suggests that your system-developed major contributors may be 50/50 with your high picks. Thus, for every Ryan Zimmerman, there's a John Lannan.

Posted by: PTBNL | September 25, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Boz, Will it take us 10 years to clinch the division? Are you onboard with the "Plan"? I know you advocate a couple of well placed free-agent purchases like Mark Texiera, but how long is it going to take us?

Posted by: 6th and D | September 25, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Not quite ten, I was just rounding off. It will be 8 years, 9 months, 2 days, 7 hours and 12:32 from ....
NOW.

****************
Boz, Will it take us 10 years to clinch the division? Are you onboard with the "Plan"? I know you advocate a couple of well placed free-agent purchases like Mark Texiera, but how long is it going to take us?

Posted by: 6th and D | September 25, 2008 4:10 PM

Posted by: Who do I look like, Madame Clio?? | September 25, 2008 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Well, 88 is not that close to 100, really, but if we assume you mean in place of (vs in addition to) Gabe Gross's 13 HR/40 RBI, or B.J. Upton's 8/65, then he's adding (using your numbers) 13-18 HRs and 23-48 RBI, which is not bad, but it's not 25/100. And that's assuming he could have stayed on the field, while living in Tampa, which just wasn't ever going to happen.

***************
His grumpy demeanor not withstanding, a healthy Elijah Dukes would/could have added 25 homers and close to 100 RBI's to that offense.
...
Had Dukes had a typical number of at-bats for a guy playing in 150 or so games, he would have put up these numbers:
.271 - 32 doubles - 4 triples - 26 homers - 88 RBI's - 26 stolen bases and a .393 on base percentage. On defense, he would have hat 18 assists or so.

Posted by: The Beltway Boy | September 25, 2008 3:26 PM

Posted by: ce | September 25, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

The 25-100 RBI scenario was based on the fact that there would have been far more baserunners to drive in in Tampa vs. the paltry number here for the Nationals. It was an extrapolation and guess. He might have hit far more. Remember, a fair percentage of his at-bats came in the form of little more than spring training swings, trying to get in shape to play every day. In 550 real, ready at bats, I bet he drives in 100 here in D.C.

Posted by: The Beltway Boy | September 25, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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