Tampa Bay Rays: Is 2018 Imploding or Part Rebuilding
As spring training is set to begin most teams come into camp with the hopes of reaching the ultimate prize a World Series championship. It is a different story for the Tampa Bay Rays this season they come into spring training with anger and a lot of questions on what is going on. From the top of the organization on down, there are many questions. How is this team going to win? Where is the new stadium going to be? Why are veteran players being traded away? What young superstar is going to step up and fill the voids? Manager Kevin Cash now has to find a way to rally his troops and figure out the solutions to these questions.
Owner Stuart Sternberg came out at the end of last season and said he had to cut payroll. The major reason he listed is the lack of attendance at Tropicana Field. So he decided to trade away the face of the franchise 3rd baseman Evan Longoria. Longo, as fans call him, was angered by the trade and believe this is the way Sternberg has betrayed the fans. Most fans think that he is trying to run the organization into the ground and no longer have baseball in the Tampa Bay area.
The Rays are one of the lowest payroll teams throughout Major League Baseball. Major League Baseball does not have a salary cap and a small market team like the Rays struggle to keep players and sign big time free agents. The question is with all these moves how do they put a winning product on the field. The organization is once again leaning on the young talent in the minors.
Owner Sternberg mentioned the reason he cut payroll is that attendance is down. In fact, many of the fans reasoning for not showing up to Tropicana Field is the location. Furthermore, many fans feel uncomfortable with going to south part of St. Petersburg. The major reason is that there is a criminal element in the area. The city has done a good job getting this element taking care of to make it more comfortable to attend games.
The organization wants to move the stadium to a new location to Tampa. The new stadium will be near Ybor City. Which has just the same amount or more crime element than St. Petersburg did. Is this the solution the organization is going to? To build a new stadium to draw fans. However, remember they need a team to draw them. In sports when organizations built new stadiums they do very well in the few years but after that, if the team doesn’t have a winning product attendance goes down. Mr. Sternberg is willing to take that chance.
The Tampa Bay Rays, for the most part, are seen as a small market team. Which makes it difficult to bring in big name free agents. Thus, they have to grow their team from the minor league system. They also depend on their scouts to go find these great prospects where they are in high school or college. The scouts have to hope what they see can grow and become a major league player.
Day by day the baseball operations deal the veterans on this team for prospects. These prospects coming back have to be ready and hope that they can fill the void that a veteran once had. The team needs to veteran leadership it will help when the team is going through a rough stretch and so they can mentor the young prospects. There have been 3 veteran players traded away 3B Evan Longoria, SP Jake Odorizzi, and OF and last year team MVP Steven Souza Jr. They also cut ties with Corey Dickerson another good player the Rays had a season ago.
The question now is which one of these prospects from Durham is going to step up and be the next star. It’s going to be tough sledding for manager Kevin Cash to figure this out. Spring training should be interesting on how all these players are going to come together. Kevin Cash is going to lean on what veteran players he has left. Those veteran players are not happy with what has transpired so Kevin Cash has his work cut out for him.
In fact, maybe the likes of Brent Honeywell will be able to fill in for departed starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi. The scouts and the Triple AAA Durham Bulls have high hopes. Additionally, they say he can be a good major league pitcher. Honeywell has never made a major league pitch. So we will have to wait to see if he starts the year in the majors or AAA.
The fans of the Tampa Bay Rays want to know what the hell is going on. The ownership is not telling anyone what their plans are. Is this an implosion leading to ownership selling the team? Sternberg has lowered payroll and sent the stars and fan favorites out-of-town. On the flip side, they might be telling the fans to give us a few years to show you all our young talent. It will make this team great again. Is this a rebuild? The future of the Tampa Bay Rays is very grim. Hence, why the fans are very unhappy with the state of their team.