A few good men at the right price, its baseball

A few good men at the right price, its baseball

The MLB Winter Meetings came and went, with a number of trades being initiated , with several teams coming away better off than they were last season in some respects , in terms of the makeup of their personnel. One of the biggest acquisitions made, was the signing of former New York Yankees’ first baseman Robinson Cano by the Seattle Mariners to a ten-year $240 million deal . A far cry from the desired $300 million contract that was being bandied about as the compensation package t that analysts said it would take for the Yankees to retain the player. Out of that deal, came what now can be stated as being bar, for other offensive players, by way of the deals now being set.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.



The New York Yankees for their part, have made a number of moves sought to bolster what has been an aging roster that was uncompetitive and unproductive for much of last season. New York’s failure to reach the postseason was a further indictment of a number of issues that befell the team in 2013. Injuries may well have plagued the Yankees , but a lack of leadership from anyone on the roster , while Derek Jeter remained on the disabled list further emphasized what was wrong with this team on the whole. Manager Joe Girardi and his staff tried their best to motivate the players, but nothing at all seemed to work. Less we forget also, the franchise still has to deal with the issue of Alex Rodriguez and his long-term future with the organization , as he seeks to have his two-hundred and fourteen game suspension overturned by a special arbitrator appointed by the MLB hierarchy . The fallout from this all, could very well see a new change within the game should Frederic Horowitz rule in the league’s favor in upholding the player’s suspension.


MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner is seen here with his wife Mildred Mariner at a public function . As the Chief Financial Officer for Major League Baseball, it is Mariner’s day-to-day responsibilities to deal with baseball’s $6.4 billion business concern, as well as making sure that the teams are adhering to the league’s rules , concerning their financial and fiduciary duties . Somewhere along the way Mariner was oblivious to the financial woes that befell the Chicago Cubs , Los Angeles Dodgers , New York Mets and that now seem to be encircling the Houston Astros and the franchise’s owner Jim Crane . Getty Images / Phil North ….

Rodriguez and his lawyers, David Cornwell and Joe Tacopina have sought to make this a vendetta that the MLB hierarchy has , in seeking to drive the player out of the game. Alex Rodriguez’s candor in this matter, would suggest, that he has a great deal to hide , beyond the monetary compensation he is likely to lose , were the suspension upheld. Forty-three million dollars is the estimated amount, the player would lose, beyond his now tainted legacy. It has been baseball’s mishandling of the entire “steroids’ issue “ and the apathy shown by a number of the game’s fans , that this issue and the game itself , can no longer be taken seriously on its merits, much less with regard to the integrity of the sport , itself . The vast majority of the players have remained silent , their union simply disingenuous on the matter , and less we forget Bud Selig has continued to act like a buffoon from the very start , which has now led us to the present predicament .

While, I do not begrudge the New York Yankees their immense success over the course of their existence, it should not go without notice , that a great deal of the triumphs attained, were simply availed by way of the vast financial resources and the very fact that the organization has been simply been able to outbid an opponent in order to acquire a player. Repeatedly, we have seen this become the norm , but yet , the fans and league hierarchy ignore that fact and liken it to the cost of doing business . It has probably escaped the notice of MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner , that with more than one-quarter of the league’s thirty teams failing to show an operational profit , unless aided by the luxury tax system, the financial health of baseball would be in dire straits. In reality, the game is teetering on a precipice, with the hierarchy simply failing to address the issue.

Hal Steinbrenner as the lead managing partner of the familial holding company that owns the New York Yankees, has sought to reduce the team’s payroll in recent seasons , but in reality , it has become an act of futility , as GM Brian Cashman has been countenanced to carry on with the capricious spending the organization has been continually known for. One simply has to look at baseball’s payroll and the very fact of the ten highest paid players in the game , three of the players atop of that list, just happen to be on the Yankees’ current roster .

With Jacoby Ellsbury’s defection to the New York Yankees and the signing of a seven-year $153 million deal, questions are being asked, why would they sign a player who in recent years has been more known for his health issues , rather than his on-field performances ? Granted, Ellsbury was a part of the . Boston Red Sox’s World Series winning roster this past season, where his contributions played a part of the franchise’s postseason success. As to whether or not the player can make a solid contribution to the team this upcoming season , in spite of the offensive woes that befell the team for much of 2013, beyond the lack of in-depth pitching, remains to be seen.

The New York Yankees are likely to be competitive in 2014, but I do not believe that they are the best team in the AL East , as the season gets underway . That status will remain with the Boston Red Sox, whose manager John Farrell , proved himself to be the best manager within the division as well as perhaps the most adept in getting the best out of his players, no matter what type of adversity stood in their way. . As New York’s fortunes declined this past season, to the point where it appears that Cashman , the coaching staff and the lead executives seem to have no faith in the farm system , it not only shows how reliant this ball-club is on the revenues derived from its baseball operations , but also of their proprietary cable sports’ broadcast outlet the YES Network . Without the revenues of the programming entity , one seriously doubts that the Yankees could afford to keep up their vast spending on team payroll , without adding to the fact that in the past five years the franchise has paid over to the league hierarchy in excess of $150 million in luxury tax compensation. Baseball’s idea, of taking more out of the hands of the wealthy and simply giving not necessarily to the “needy” as they see fit .

Courtesy of New York Daily News

Yankees slapped with $28 million luxury tax bill for 2013 season

Because the Yankees have been over the tax threshold at least four consecutive times, they pay at a 50 percent rate on the overage, and their $28,113,945 bill was second only to their $34.1 million payment following the 2005 season. The Yankees are responsible for $252.7 million of the $285.1 million in tax paid by all clubs since the penalty began in 2003.

By Mark Fiensand , New York Daily News

No wonder the Yankees want to get their payroll beneath the luxury tax threshold. The Bombers were hit with a $28 million luxury tax bill Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

Since luxury tax penalties began in 2003, the Yankees have shelled out more than a quarter billion dollars, accounting for $252.7 million of the $285.1 million in tax paid by all teams in the majors.


The Dodgers joined the Yankees as the only teams to blow past the $178 million threshold this season, paying $11.4 million. The Dodgers’ total luxury tax payroll was $243 million — $9 million higher than the Yankees — but they were charged at only 17.5% since they were beneath the threshold in 2012. Having exceeded the threshold for four straight years, the Yankees paid out at a rate of 50%.

Should the Yankees somehow get their payroll beneath the threshold next season — that number rises to $189 million in 2014 — they would reset their tax rate to 17.5% and become eligible for some revenue-sharing refunds.


According to the AP, the Yankees’ payroll is now $177.7 million with only 15 players signed, and it appears their only hope to stay under $189 million will be a season-long suspension for Alex Rodriguez.


The Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers might well be, two of the biggest disappointments, in terms of their respective performances throughout last season within the AL . Combined payroll for the two teams, exceeded $240 million . General managers Jerry Dipoto and Jon Daniels saw little, by way of a tangible return, with both ball-clubs failing to make the postseason . Within the hierarchy of the Rangers , former team President and a minority stakeholder, Nolan Ryan was ousted from his position by his fellow partners , with Daniels, now being given a greater say, in the day to day running of the franchise. The off-season for the franchise has proved to be eventful , with the team sending every day utility player Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for slugger , Prince Fielder . As to what that may well indicate about the Rangers’ offensive woes last season , begs the question , with Fielder not providing much aid to the Tigers’ own issues in that category, something must be awry with the mindset of Jon Daniels and the organization.

Texas now adds a burdensome contract to its payroll , while simply having not achieved anything of merit by obtaining Prince Fielder, adding to the woes of an under-achieving franchise over the past five seasons. Albeit, that with back to back World Series’ appearances , the outcome with each , was profoundly disturbing in 2010 and 2011 , with the lack of effort from the franchise. . The Texas Rangers may well be lucky enough to actually do something exciting in 2014 , but based on their showing last season , I believe that their fans will be in for more of the same !

Angels’ owner Arte Moreno may well have decided to give Mike Sciocsia one last chance to prove himself as the manager of the team . Yet I felt , that he was extremely close to being fired , in spite of his relationship with the team’s owner and general manager Jerry Dipoto ! This season may well be the last chance for Sciocsia to get it right, albeit , that the fans of the Los Angeles Angels will point to the fact that Albert Pujols was lost to the club for a large part of their season. The lone bright spot for the franchise remains the rising profile of Mike Trout , who now , might just be the best player in the American League , in spite of the achievements of Miguel Cabrera over the last two years.

Mike Sciocsia’s tenure, as one of the longest-serving managers in the Majors has come at quite an expense for an individual , who is well-respected amongst his peers. However, but for the Angels’ lone success , in 2002 , the subsequent years for the ball-club have been very lean. The last postseason appearance for Los Angeles came in 2009 and the team’s foray was extended, until they ran into the New York Yankees in the ALCS , where they succumbed to the New York based franchise in six games , losing 4-2 . The makeup of this Angels’ lineup , built up around the power-hitting of Pujols , Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout, will have to be at its very best , along with a pitching lineup that must be effective and consistent throughout this upcoming season.

The Atlanta Braves proved to be a tremendous disappointment during the postseason , falling by the wayside in the NLDS, as they fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers and their highly bankrolled roster of players . A great regular season during which the Braves laid waste to their divisional rivals within the NL East , with what appears to be the utmost of ease . GM Frank Wren , in seeking to make the Braves competitive this past season, the organization acquired both Upton brothers by way of trades, with Justin Upton leaving the Arizona Diamondbacks to make his way East , to be joined by his elder sibling BJ Upton . Adding that type of offensive firepower , to be alongside Brian McCann , Evan Gattis , Dan Uggla , Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward actually paid dividends during the regular season , but the team’s postseason was heightened by inconsistency alongside what turned out to be an exceptionally poor showing by the pitching lineup in that series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That divisional series’ loss by the Atlanta Braves was simply indicative of what I believe to have been a great deal of complacency on the part of Fredi Gonzalez and his staff. The team, was ill-prepared and there can no excuse for such a lackadaisical approach by the players and coaches . This off-season the team saw the departure of Tim Hudson as a free agent, who has since signed with the San Francisco Giants . Several other players have departed , most notably catcher Brian McCann who signed a multi-year deal with the New York Yankees and filling that role for the Braves will be Evan Gattis. Having also acquired pitcher Gavin Floyd and Ryan Doumit , this will bolster the Braves’ lineup and giving it additional depth in a number of needed positions. However, if the Braves are to not only repeat as NL East champions next season, then there will need to be a great deal more consistency from the pitching staff .

If there is said to be a franchise in need of a World Series’ win, then it would have to be the Los Angeles Dodgers. The acquisition of the franchise for an outrageous figure of $2.156 billion , all countenanced by Bud Selig , gives even greater credence that the game has lost touch with reality. Granted, the Dodgers’ principal owners, Guggenheim Baseball Properties LLC, under that of parent company Guggenheim Partners Inc has a great deal of monetary backing ,with assets exceeding $125 billion , and a television deal in conjunction with cable giant Time Warner Inc , reputed to be worth over $ 8 billion over the next two decades. Stakeholders , such as Magic Johnson , Hollywood movie mogul Peter Guber , along senior managing partners Todd S Boehly and Mark Walter are intent on winning that elusive series . The fact that the Dodgers have not won baseball’s biggest prize since 1988 , only adds to the franchise’s allure . A quarter of a century is a long time to wait for one of baseball’s most venerable organizations to simply say we are champions . The expectations were high during 2013, during which the Dodgers’ fans were introduced to rookie sensation Yasiel Puig , who led the baseball franchise on an improbable fifty game stretch , where the team went 42-8 over that period .

The Dodgers’ ignominious failure against the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS was as shocking , as it was simply ridiculous , in what was said to be an explosive Dodgers’ offense , that the Cardinals’ pitching simply closed the door on during the series , coming away with an all too easy 4-2 series’ victory . Don Mattingly , was clearly out of his depth , as Mike Matheny and the St Louis headed to their third postseason appearance in the past seven seasons . This off-season Mattingly , Stan Kasten and for Ned Colletti , their biggest priority , remains “inking” pitcher Clayton Kershaw to a long-term deal , albeit , that the Cy Young Award winner is likely to be rewarded with the highest arbitration salary, ever given to a starting pitcher in league history. There seems to be some reluctance on the pitcher to accept what may well be the most lucrative contract in baseball history , which is likely to top Alex Rodriguez’s ten-year $275 million compensation package and currently the highest paid pitching contract, being the deal signed by Justin Verlander , which pays him an astonishing $180 million over seven years .

Kershaw and his agent J D Smart are fully aware that the Dodgers will move heaven and earth to get a deal done, at any price, as the pitcher is by far the best starter on the team’s pitching rotation . His amazing season in 2013 , speaks volumes as to his prowess , and over the past two seasons , he has been simply been the best starting pitcher in the game .

If the rumors are to be believed, that the Golden State Warriors` CEO & Chairman Joe Lacob and his partners are likely to make an unsolicited bid for the Oakland Athletics. Lew Wolff and GM Billy Beane have not made any formal statements on this latest news concerning the franchise. If the rumors are to be believed, then Lacob’s preemptive strike and $600 million valuation of the franchise might be on the high side . Yet, given the issues that the Athletics are dealing with, and their being no aid from Bud Selig, in assisting the organization in their quest for a new stadium , now seems to be the norm , unless that ball-club just happens to be in a major ad-market .

In the A’s quest for a new ballpark to replacing the aging O Coliseum , it would appear that Alameda County and the state are noncommittal in aiding the franchise. More out of budgetary concerns and their own looming fiscal deficits , it is now time for team owners and the league hierarchy to show their alleged business acumen , instead of this continued asinine rationale that every damn sports’ venue has to publicly funded using taxpayers’ monies . Fans seem oblivious to this all , either through sheer apathy , stupidity or simply the fact that they do not understand or care . Personally, I believe it to be all of the aforementioned , given the idiocy I have witnessed and read in certain comments attributed to alleged knowledgeable fans of the Tampa Bay Rays and their idiotic sentiment that a new ballpark for that franchise ought to be paid for by using public funds. The locale barely supports the Rays, which annually ranks amongst baseball’s least supported thirty franchises, in terms of home attendance and overall support . As to the idiocy, that they are a viable brand in terms of market share for viewers. Consider the market that the Tampa Bay area covers, and that there is barely nothing else to compete with the Rays, in spite of the franchise’s limited success over the last eight years . The same can be said of the Oakland A’s and their continued struggles to compete with a number of the big market teams , but moreover with the likes of a Los Angeles Angels , Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants , in terms of their respective payrolls .

If Lew Wolff is receptive to this proposed bid, then it would mark a changing landscape within baseball , with the A’s following the sale of the Dodgers last season , which came out of that franchise having been placed into bankruptcy reorganization , because of the mismanagement of the ball-club by then owner Frank McCourt . Major League Baseball is now in need of leadership within its upper echelons , by someone who can lead , has an insight of the ever-changing economic landscape , but above all, a leader who actually is not afraid to confront the MLBPA (union) , rather than shying away from confrontation. All of the traits, that have been exhibited by Bud Selig throughout a great deal of his tenure, as the MLB Commissioner.



Picture gallery .

Your thoughts on the points raised within this article , and what if anything, do you hope to see come out of the upcoming season within Major League Baseball ? Chime in with your comments on this and anything else you believe to relevant to the subject matter.


Picture and slideshow details below .

(1) Robinson Cano is formally introduced by the Seattle Mariners during a news conference at Safeco Field in Seattle on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. The second baseman is flanked by general manager Jack Zduriencik , left, and manager Lloyd McClendon . Cano having left the New York Yankees as a free agent, signed a ten-year $240 million deal with the Mariners and hopes to lead the franchise to their first postseason appearance since 2001 , where they made it to the ALCS , which resulted in a loss (4-1) to the New York Yankees . Dean Rutz/ MTC ….

(2) From left, New York Yankees catcher Chris Stewart , manager Joe Girardi , shortstop Derek Jeter and first baseman Juan Rivera (54) wait out a pitching change after Girardi removed starter Andy Pettitte during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday, March 13, 2013. The 38-year-old Jeter hadn’t played the field since breaking his left ankle in the first game of the AL championship series last October. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(3) MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner is seen here with his wife Mildred Mariner at a public function . As the Chief Financial Officer for Major League Baseball, it is Mariner’s day to day responsibilities to deal with baseball’s $6.4 billion business concern, as well as making sure that the teams are adhering to the league’s rules , concerning their financial and fiduciary duties . Somewhere along the way Mariner was oblivious to the financial woes that befell the Chicago Cubs , Los Angeles Dodgers , New York Mets and that now seem to be encircling the Houston Astros and the franchise’s owner Jim Crane . Getty Images / Phil North ….

(4) New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman presents Kelsey Ellsbury with flowers as her husband, center-fielder Jacoby Ellsbury , right, looks on at his introductory press conference at Yankee Stadium on December 13, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Ellsbury’s agent Scott Boras negotiated the deal for his client which puts the player almost at the forefront, in terms of the compensation packages paid for center-fielders . Getty Images North America / Maddie Meyer ….

(5) Atlanta Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez is seen here alongside player Justin Upton. The Braves’ preseason acquisition left the field after suffering a mild concussion in a collision with a teammate during a game played against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Ballpark in Miami, Florida ,. Atlanta would go on to defeat Miami 4-3 in the contest . AP Photo / Christine Monroe ….

(6) Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw who was the runner-up in the 2011 Cy Young Award voting ballot , but won the prestigious accolade in 2013 , after a phenomenal year by the pitcher . Now in arbitration , Kershaw is likely to be the largest recipient of the largest offer ever made to a starting pitcher in league history. Meanwhile , the front office of the organization under the authority of Magic Johnson a minority stakeholder in the franchise has informed team President Stan Kasten that a sizable offer should be made to sign the pitcher , in what is likely to be the largest contract offer for a starting pitcher that is likely to top the $180 million contract currently in existence with Detroit Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander . AP Photo / Joe Morrison ….

(7) Golden Warriors’ CEO & Chairman Joe Lacob and Peter Guber , are two of the primary owners of the NBA franchise . Lacob a former senior partner with capital asset management company Kleiner , Perkins , Caufield & Byers LLC , is now said to mulling over whether or not it is feasible to make an unsolicited $600 million bid for the Oakland Athletics . Current A’s owner Lew Wolff has not issued a public statement concerning the issue , who along with GM Billy Beane are part of franchise’s ownership group , with Wolff being a majority stake holder. Getty Images / Paul Woodley …..

(8) Oakland A’s team President Michael Crowley , left , is seen here with Lew Wolff , center and GM Billy Beane . All three individuals have yet to issue a public statement concerning what is said to be an aggressive and audacious $600 million bid for the AL West based baseball franchise . Chronicle / Kristina Koci Hernandez ….


tophatal ….


MLB news and MLB press releases

MLB transactions

This week in MLB history

This date in MLB history December 18th

MLB World Series

MLB Postseason (2013)

MLB World Series’ champions and championships by organizations
🙂 …. 😦

Los Angeles Angels news

Boston Red Sox news

New York Yankees’ news

Oakland Athletics’ news

Texas Rangers news

Author: tophatal ...........

An avid sports' fans that's all !!!!!

15 thoughts on “A few good men at the right price, its baseball”

  1. Robby Cano claims he received no respect in NY. Awe gee, I’m shocked. Wait ’til the Mariner fans see the ‘dog’ come out in this moody guy when he hits a one hopper to the 2nd baseman. The Seattle faithful will have flashbacks of Richie Sexten.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS TOPHAT and to all your readers.


  2. Ronbets

    $240 million will be all the respect Robinson Cano now needs , because the Seattle Mariners’ …. roster in its current guise , won’t be good enough to win the AL West , much less gain a wildcard berth . I mean the last time the Mariners went anywhere in the postseason was over twelve years ago and things are unlikely to change .

    Lloyd McLendon and his staff are not likely to prove good enough managers . And beyond Cano , Felix Hernandez and Dustin Ackley , there is simply nothing special about this team at all .

    Have a great and safe Christmas , also my sincerest regards to you and the immediate family !


    Here’s your stocking filler and I hope you like ’em all ?


    tophatal ……………..


  3. Warriors’ CEO & Chairman Joe Lacob wants to bid $600 million for the Oakland A’s ? There’s also going to be a conflict of interest , because Peter Guber , a minority stakeholder with the NBA franchise , is also a part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers . I wonder how Bud Selig will view that issue ?

    At that price the A’s would be vastly overvalued and I don’t care what the business mindset of Joe Lacob just happens to be , even if he was a partner with Kleiner , Perkins , Caufiled & Byers LLC .

    To the valued patrons of the site my greatest wish this holiday season , is that you all have a Merry Christmas , also a peaceful and enjoyable group of festivities with your immediate family ! Have a happy New Year , as well .


    Stocking filler


    Santa comes down the chimney looking like this, I guess there’ll be a few things that she and I can discuss !

    tophatal ………………….


  4. C’mon, Al. You’re missing the most important news to come out of Major League Baseball this winter.

    There are no cellphones or cameras allowed in Derek Jeter’s new palatial estate on Davis Island.

    That means all hos must check their bags at the door.

    I wanna know who the first one is to sneak a little cellphone in there just to snap a few photos of Derek’s mult-million dollar love shack.


    1. Chris Humpherys

      I guess that’s because Jeter no longer wants Minka Kelly , his ex fiancee stalking his @ss , every time he brings a “new piece of tail ” home to whip out his piece of maple in order for one of those girls to grab hold of it ?

      Minka Kelly

      Clockwise , Vanessa Minnillo, Scarlett Johansson , Gabrielle Union , Mariah Carey , Jessica Biel and Jessica Alba . Damn , ###ga , you been ballin’ and tappin’ that @ss in more ways than one .

      The number of career home runs hit by Derek Jeter , is that proportional to the number of “hot women “ he’s known to have had sex with ? Inquiring minds need to know ?

      Jeter’s career home runs and postseason home runs .

      tophatal …….


  5. Chris Humpherys

    This season for the New York Yankees in spite of their various moves , I believe that the team will be hard pressed compete against the Red Sox , Orioles and Rays . And in terms of winning the AL East , I certainly do not believe that they have the depth to win the division ! They will be hard pressed to even finish even third our fourth , when it is all said and done.

    Jeters’ productivity is on the decline , and the pitching overall will remain the Yankees’ Achilles’ Heel .


  6. $600 million for an NBA franchise even in a major market is far too much to pay , even in what is meant to be a still troublesome economy . The NBA brand itself is now mired in mediocrity and that has been reflected in the play this season. The league’s area of growth is no longer in North America , but primarily in Europe and the Far East. A continually weak dollar makes these franchises attractive , but the returns on that investment are simply menial .


  7. Chris Davis of the Orioles will have a great deal to prove after last season’s onslaught by the slugger . He has to prove that the 50 home run season was not an aberration . All this for a player who prior to 2013 , had never hit more than 35 home runs in a season .

    Comparisons to Brady Anderson have already been made , and I believe we all know why that is , don’t we ? When they say “juice” and Brady Anderson they are not talking about a juice supplement .


  8. Shin Soo Choo signs a multi-year deal with the Texas Rangers . Why do I get the feeling that even with the departure of Nolan Ryan as the team President , there still seem to be absolutely no common sense remaining within the front office .

    Even with the trade to obtain Prince Fielder , this team in its current guise will still struggle as GM Jon Daniels has done nothing to really address the issues the team had last season . Poor pitching and lack of offense in really important situations .

    Texas Rangers’ transactions


  9. Still no signs of life concerning the Rays’ front office and whether or not they will offer David Price a multi-year contract extension in line with the average salary for a starting pitcher in baseball .

    Rays optimistic for ’14 as Price question looms
    With bulk of roster returning, Tampa Bay confident it can field another playoff team

    By Bill Chastain , MLB.com

    ST. PETERSBURG — Joe Maddon conveyed a ho-hum attitude when asked about the ever-changing nature of the Rays’ roster.

    “I’m telling you, I am, we are so used to it by now,” Maddon said. “Of course you don’t want to lose [certain players], but I know we can fight through it.”

    Maddon has faith in the front office’s ability to assemble a team that can reach the playoffs. Rays fans have grown equally comfortable trusting the team’s management to field a quality team. Six consecutive winning seasons and four trips to the playoffs in that span will do that for a fan base.

    A constant for each of those teams has been change. And, as usual, change is in the air as the Rays look to 2014.

    “It’s who we are,” said Andrew Friedman, Rays executive vice president of baseball operations. “We’ve had a lot of change, really, every offseason. There hasn’t been an offseason with minimal turnover. The important thing is that for the most part, our core guys have stayed in place, and we’ve been able to supplement around our core group.”

    Next year’s roster is not yet complete. But new faces already are on the way, such as reliever Heath Bell and catcher Ryan Hanigan. The question of who will play first base was recently answered when the team opted to bring back James Loney, leaving David Price’s fate as the lone order of remaining business. While Price is of course a major piece, the Rays seem content to see how it will play out. If they get what they want for the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner, they will trade him. If they don’t, there are worse things than having Price as the Opening Day starter.

    The Rays are confident that they can once again advance to the postseason in 2014, but like the other 29 teams in Major League Baseball, they will enter the season with their share of questions. Here are 10:

    1. Can Evan Longoria stay healthy?
    Longoria is the team’s best player. With him on the field, the club’s chances of winning are significantly greater than if he is not. Flash back to 2012, when he played in just 74 games due to a partially torn left hamstring. Tampa Bay posted a 47-27 record in those games and went 43-45 when he did not play.

    Longoria played 2013 on a surgically repaired hamstring and saw action in 160 regular-season games. He is a tough out, can hit for power, is a team leader and plays Gold Glove-caliber defense. If he has another healthy season, the Rays can expect great things from him as he enters the prime of his career.

    2. Will Wil Myers dodge the sophomore jinx?
    Wil Myers arrived in 2013 and performed as advertised, putting together a year worthy of the AL Rookie of the Year Award. If the Rays can get the same performance from him for a full season, the results will be fun to watch.

    Myers wouldn’t be the first player to follow a quality rookie year with a less-than-stellar second season. Dodging the sophomore jinx normally has less to do with luck than the player’s ability to adjust. After the exposure that comes with a season in the Majors, Myers is a known commodity to other teams. How quickly he adjusts to how they decide to pitch him will go a long way toward determining whether he has another quality season.

    3. Is Hanigan the answer at catcher?
    The Rays and Hanigan agreed to a three-year contract extension covering the 2014, ’15 and ’16 seasons worth a guaranteed $10.75 million, with a club option for ’17.

    “Ryan Hanigan is a tremendously talented defensive catcher,” Friedman said. “Really shuts down the run game. Takes a lot of pride in what he does behind the plate. And we also like what he can do in the batter’s box, especially against left-handed pitching. He’s a guy we’ve had our eye on for a while, and so when we had the opportunity to acquire him, we were aggressive to do so.”

    Respected for his defensive and game-calling skills and his ability to get on base as a patient hitter, Hanigan still endured the worst offensive season of his career in 2013.

    Limited to 75 games, Hanigan batted .198 with a .306 on-base percentage, two homers and 21 RBIs. Injuries nagged the catcher throughout a year that included two stints on the disabled list because of a strained left oblique and a sprained left wrist.

    If he can bounce back, the Rays might finally have the everyday catcher they have desired for so long.

    4. Do the Rays have the right candidates to close?
    The Rays have not designated a reliever to be next season’s closer. Fernando Rodney, who closed for the team the past two seasons, is a free agent, and given what he’s asking for, it does not appear he will be back. That leaves Bell, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Joel Peralta and Jake McGee as the prime candidates.

    Based on how the Rays do business, they likely have a pretty strong sense that Bell or Oviedo — both of whom have closed successfully in the past — can regain their form to the point where one or the other could grab the job. If they can’t, it’s likely the club will go through the season using a bullpen by committee. Though that’s not the ideal scenario, it has been effective in the past.

    5. If Price is traded, can the Rays staff fill the void?
    Should Tampa Bay trade Price, the remaining rotation would include Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb and Chris Archer with Jake Odorizzi as the likely fifth starter.

    Without Price, the Rays would face a problem similar to what they experienced after trading James Shields. Not only would they be down an ace, but they would also be losing a significant number of innings. Price has pitched 200-plus frames in three of the last four seasons. Certainly, Price’s departure would leave a huge gap, but the talent is on hand to potentially fill it.

    6. Who is the best candidate from the Minor Leagues to make the jump to Tropicana Field?
    Odorizzi is the best bet, given the prospect that Price will be traded. If Price is traded and Odorizzi doesn’t win the job, right-hander Alex Colome could be a candidate to make the jump to the Major Leagues, with left-hander Enny Romero coming in as a longshot.

    Kevin Kiermaier could also get promoted this season. The Rays like the speedy outfielder so much that he found a spot on the roster for their Wild Card game against the Indians. Talk to almost anybody in the organization about Kiermaier, and you will hear rave reviews of his defense.

    Click on link to read in full.

    Back to the same old routine with the Rays , penny-pinching and taking just about anyone’s cast-offs as they see fit .

    Rays’ projected payroll for 2014 and their lineup as of 12/26/13 .

    tophatal ……


Leave a Reply & notification by e-mail

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.