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Why The Heartbreaking Loss Of Blake Snell Might Be A Good Choice For The Rays

Why The Heartbreaking Loss Of Blake Snell Might Be A Good Choice For The Rays

On December 28, Rays fan woke up to the notification that pitching star Blake Snell would no longer be part of the Rays’ pitching rotation. The southpaw, who had been with the Rays since his major league debut in 2016, was traded to the San Diego Padres for two right handed pitchers, Luis Patino and Cole Wilcox, and two catchers, Francisco Mejia and Blake Hunt.

While the trade of their ace felt like betrayal to Tampa Bay fans, the loss of a fan favorite is not a new situation, as the Rays are notorious for their heartbreaking trades (remember when they traded Chris Archer to the Pirates in 2018?) While fans in Tampa Bay may feel blindsided by the trade (which is exacerbated by the loss of Charlie Morton) there may be a glimmer of hope when looking at the players obtained in the trade.

It’s no secret that the Rays are desperate for a catcher. They lost Michael Perez at the end of the season, forcing them to sign Mike Zunino, whose 2020 season batting average was a disappointing .147 (for those discounting the abbreviated 60 game season, his 2018 and 2019 batting averages were .201 and .165 respectively). The trade with the Padres gives the Rays two catchers, one prospect and one big-leaguer.

The Rays acquired 22 year old prospect Blake Hunt in the trade, who may provide the Rays versatility on the field with minor league experience behind the plate and as a first baseman. Since Hunt has only played in single A, he may serve his 2021 season in the minors, but gives the Rays the option of another catcher if Zunino faces injuries or slumps during the season.

Francisco Mejia, a top prospect in 2018, had an impressive rookie season the following year, boasting a .265 batting average over his 79 games, but his 2020 campaign was cut short by a hand contusion and slump, allowing him only 17 games to post a .322 OPS. Despite his slow start in the majors, Mejia is predicted to bat .236 in Tampa Bay during the 2021 season (Baseball Reference’s projections for Mike Zunino have him falling short of the Mendoza line once again, with a projected .194 average).

Without Charlie Morton and Blake Snell on the mound, the Rays hand the ball to Tyler Glasnow and Yonny Chirinos, who spent his 2020 season on the injured list. With only two starters filling the spots on the rotation, the Rays will turn to their unconventional bullpen and opener days if they fail to find consistent hurlers to take the mound.

With this trade, the Rays may look to employ Luis Patino to fill middle innings. Patino tossed a 5.19 ERA throughout his limited pitching time during his 2020 rookie season, but gave up only three homeruns over 17.1 innings.

The fourth player acquired in the Snell trade is right hander Cole Wilcox, who played for the NCAA Georgia Bulldogs. Wilcox was signed as San Diego’s third round draft pick this year and, according to evaluators, has a promising slider that may earn him a spot in the Major League’s bullpen. However, Rays fans may have to wait for Wilcox’s debut until the 21 year old works his way up the minor leagues.

Although the San Diego Padres have added an experienced pitcher to their ranks, the addition of Snell comes at a cost. Snell is set to earn $10.5 million in the 2021 season despite his rapid slump since 2018 (In 2018, he had 21 wins and an ERA below 2.00, but struggled to find half the number of wins in the 2019 and 2020 seasons combined and doubled his ERA), which increases to $13 million and $16 million for his final two years before free agency. And the Rays are known for holding one of the lowest payrolls in baseball.

“[The trade of Snell] takes a meaningful piece away from our 21 club, but the return itself, the proximity of two of the four players in this deal, gives us a lot of confidence along with the talent we have in house and the amount of time we have this winter that we’re going to be really good this year,” assured Erik Neander.

About the Writer
Photo of Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher, Editor in Chief

Lily Belcher is a junior at Durant High School and is the Editor in Chief for the PawPrint. She is freelancing for the Osprey Observer this year and hopes...

Rays Make Another Interesting Swap With Padres

Hunter Renfroe joins the 2020 Tamoa Bay Rays season lineup.

Hunter Renfroe joins the 2020 Tamoa Bay Rays season lineup.

If you got déjà vu from the Rays recent trade, it’s understandable considering how similar this deal is to another trade the two teams made only a month before. In January Tampa Bay made a shocking deal to trade outfielder Tommy Pham to San Diego in exchange for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and second base prospect Xavier Edwards. Just a couple weeks later the Rays traded another established Major League player to the Pads in relief pitcher Emilio Pagan for another Padres outfielder in Manuel Margot. Also headed to the Bay is catching and outfield prospect Logan Driscoll who had a slash line of .340/.458/.797 in the Northwest league. He’ll start the 2020 season in Class-A Bowling Green for Tampa Bay. 

Why did the Rays make this trade?

Fans may be curious as to why the Rays traded Pagan, the team’s leader in saves with twenty. For starters, Tampa Bay felt confident in their many bullpen arms, including Nick Anderson, Colin Poche, Diego Castillo, and Oliver Drake. They’re also counting on a rebound year from Jose Alvarado, who struggled after a scorching start last season. On top of that if guys like Brent Honeywell and Anthony Banda can fully recover from Tommy John surgery and be effective, it’s safe to say Tampa Bay will have a deep enough bullpen. 

The fact the Rays had four outfielders before this trade occurred also makes it interesting. Margot is a defensive outfielder, primarily in centerfield, with a very similar profile to Kevin Kiermaier but from the right side of the plate. However, Margot is coming off a year in which he hit .330/.420/.466 clip against lefties, making him an ideal platoon with Kiermaier, who struggles against left handers. Outfielder Randy Arozarena, acquired from St. Louis this offseason, is affected the most by this deal as instead of having a chance to be the fourth outfielder on the Opening Day roster, Margot will take that spot. Chances are Arozarena will start the year in Triple-A Durham.

General Manager of the Rays Erik Neander told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that they had been on Margot for a while, and had tried to acquire him with prospects. When that didn’t work the Rays resorted to trading from a place of depth to acquire a needed position player. Neander also told Topkin, “We feel really good about where we stand right now.” At the end of the day this trade sends a message to Tampa Bay: We want to win now. 

Why did the Padres make this deal?

This one’s a little easier to explain. The main reason for San Diego agreeing to this is they wanted to bolster an already solid bullpen. MLB Network rated Padres closer Kirby Yates as the top relief pitcher in baseball and now they can throw Pagan into that mix, which should be lethal. Having a strong bullpen will be crucial for San Diego as they will need to eat up innings to back a very young and inexperienced starting rotation.

However there are negatives to this deal for San Diego as centerfield is wide open for the Pads. Without the rangy Margot in center the outfield defense takes a significant hit. Newcomers such as Trent Grisham and former Ray Tommy Pham may have to plug that hole for the Friars, both of which are used to playing the corner outfield positions. The Padres took a risk in the outfield to strengthen the ‘pen, and only time will tell if it was worth it.

What’s next for Tampa Bay?

That’s a tough question with the always innovative Rays’ front office. After the Jose Martinez trade most Rays’ fans, including me, felt the Rays were pretty much set with their roster heading into Spring Training other than a few minor league signings. Clearly we were wrong as the Rays made another significant trade only days before pitchers and catchers reported. 

However, with only about two weeks before the Rays’ Spring Training opener, I just don’t see the Rays making another big trade, especially one that removes current players from the 25-man roster. Although Tampa Bay’s front office has a knack of making surprising trades so I wouldn’t completely rule it out. One thing is for certain, the Rays want to win, and now. If they can make another trade to improve the roster significantly for the right cost, they’ll do it.

About the Writer
Photo of David Fackson
David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

Twitter Q&A: 2020-2021 Rays Season

Fans are rallying with excitement for the upcoming baseball season. Tickets are already on sale, more information is provided at mlb.com.

Tampa Bay Rays

Fans are rallying with excitement for the upcoming baseball season. Tickets are already on sale, more information is provided at mlb.com.

The baseball season is almost upon us, so what better way to get ready than to answer your fan questions? I asked fellow fans on twitter and many students at Durant High School to send me any questions you have regarding the upcoming Rays season, and as the old saying goes, “Ask and you shall receive.”

Do you foresee anymore trades being done before opening day?

[email protected] on Twitter

I’d be shocked if the Rays made a major trade that really shakes up the clubhouse in the next month or so. After the Martinez trade it seems like the 25- man roster is set and ready to rock. Other than a few minor league signings and invitations to Spring Training I don’t see the Rays making anymore moves leading up to March 26th.


Do you think the Rays have a good starting rotation for this upcoming season?

[email protected] on Twitter

I’d be willing to argue Tampa Bay has the best starting rotation in baseball led by the three-headed monster of Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow, and Blake Snell. They also have a very solid back of the rotation including Ryan Yarbrough, Yonny Chirinos, Brendan McKay and possibly Brent Honeywell, depending on his progression from Tommy John surgery. What’s going to determine if the rotation lives up to its potential will be health. If the Rays can avoid the avalanche of injuries they experienced last season with the starting rotation they have a real shot of doing some serious damage this season. Expect there to be managed workloads on both Glasnow and Snell to avoid injury in 2020.


What do you think the Rays fallback plan is if Mike Zunino doesn’t work out?

[email protected] on Twitter

There’s no getting around it, Mike Zunino had a horrendous year on offense in 2019. However his defense was still spectacular, possibly being the reason why the Rays re-signed him this offseason. Tampa Bay has faith in him rebounding, but if he continues to struggle with the bat the Rays could opt to give Michael Perez the primary catching job and make Zunino the backup. If Perez struggles to produce at the big-league level Tampa Bay could give Kevan Smith or Chris Herrmann a shot, both of which recently signed minor league contracts with an invite to spring training. Another route they could go down is acquiring a catcher from another team, like they did last season stealing Travis d’Arnaud from the Dodgers. If the Rays want to hoist the World Series trophy, they are going to have to figure out the catching position one way or another.


Do you think Nate Lowe has a future on the team with Choi and Martinez?

[email protected] on Twitter

After acquiring Jose Martinez from St. Louis, the first base position is extremely crowded with Choi, Lowe, and now Martinez all needing playing time. Martinez can play outfield but his defense is shaky and could fit better at first base. If he struggles with the glove in the outfield but is effective at 1st then Lowe will be in trouble as both Choi and Martinez are under control for a few more years. On top of that they make the perfect platoon as Choi hits righties and Martinez rakes lefties. If this is the case then I don’t see how Lowe could fit on the current roster and could be dangled as trade bait for a midseason need the Rays have, such as a catcher.


Will Brent Honeywell be worth the wait? 

[email protected]_ on Twitter

Absolutely, yes, he will. Not only does he provide depth to an already deep pitching staff, the guy throws a screwball, which is unheard-of nowadays.  He’s been rated highly on every prospect list for years now and is rated as the 91st overall best prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He’s going to be fun to watch, that I can assure you.


Do you think we’ll see an opener being used as often as we saw it last season?

[email protected] on Twitter

Assuming the health of the rotation, I just don’t see the Rays using as many openers as last season. The opener was born out of necessity and now that the Rays have a full and healthy (hopefully) rotation the opener won’t be as necessary as it was in previous seasons. It may make an appearance here and there but don’t expect one or two per week like 2019.


Do you think Wander Franco will be called up this year?

[email protected] on Twitter

I’d be very surprised if we see him in a Rays uniform this year. Keep in mind the kid is only 18, going to be 19, and hasn’t played in Double-A yet. It’s very unlike the Rays to rush a prospect, even one of Franco’s caliber, to the big leagues. He’ll start the year in Class-A Advanced, play a few games and be promoted to Double-A very early in the year. I don’t think it’s outlandish to say he’ll be in Triple-A by year’s end and be on the Rays’ Opening Day lineup card in 2021.


Who will be the most surprising player to watch this season?

-Zander Fisk, Junior at Durant High School

The easy or more popular choices would be Hunter Renfroe or Jose Martinez but I’m going to go out of the box a little here with Randy Arozarena. In the trade that sent Liberatore to the Cards the Rays got Martinez, but they also got the less talked about Arozarena. He’s pegged to be the fourth outfielder on the Opening Day roster if he impresses during Spring Training. First of all, the kid can flat out fly, automatically making him a fun guy to watch. He can also hit for average, he’s got a cannon and Gold Glove caliber defense. The power is still developing but the tools he has right now makes him a very intriguing player for 2020.


Will the Rays win the A.L. East?

[email protected] on Twitter

Looking at the roster right now, if the Rays can stay healthy, I truly believe the Rays can and will win this division. They have a top three starting rotation in all of baseball and the best bullpen, both of which led the league in ERA last season. In addition they have a newly revamped lineup with more power and a young core of guys who are hungry to win. If Tampa Bay can figure out how to win at Yankee Stadium and bury the Red Sox like they did last year, nothing is stopping them from claiming their first A.L. East title since 2010.

About the Writer
Photo of David Fackson
David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

MLB award season ends

The Rawlings Gold Glove is one of the most prestigious awards given by the MLB. The best players in each field position win a Gold Glove annually.

Minor League Baseball

The Rawlings Gold Glove is one of the most prestigious awards given by the MLB. The best players in each field position win a Gold Glove annually.

The MLB award season has just finished. The American League and National League Gold Glove winners were announced on Nov. 3, 2019. On Nov. 4, 2019, the American and National League Most Valuable Player, Cy Young Award for the best pitcher from each league, Manager of the Year for best manager from each league, and the Rookie of the Year winners were announced. 

Starting with the American League, the MVP finalists that were named are Mike Trout from the Los Angeles Angels, Alex Bregman from the Houston Astros, and Marcus Semien. The National League MVP finalists were Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals, Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and reigning National League MVP, Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers. On Nov. 14, 2019, the winners were announced. The winner representing the National League was Cody Bellinger. Bellinger hit 47 home runs and had 115 runs batted in. Yelich was the runner up and Rendon was placed third. The winner representing the American League is Mike Trout. Trout, 28, hit 45 home runs and had 104 runs batted in and a batting average of .291. Bregman finished second and Semien finished third. 

The Cy Young Award for the American League was very tough choice this year. The finalists were Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, both representing the Houston Astros and Rays’ Charlie Morton. The National League Cy Young Award finalists were Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals, Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets, and Hyun-Jin-Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The winners were announced on Nov. 13, 2019. The winner representing the American League was Astros, Justin Verlander. Verlander, 36, has added more hardware to his Hall of Fame career as he wins his second Cy Young Award. Verlander had twenty-one wins and six losses with an earned run average of 2.58 and had 300 strikeouts. Verlander’s fellow teammate, Gerrit Cole, 29, was very close to winning but finished in second place. Cole elected free agency, meaning he’ll go to another team the day after Verlander won. Morton finished third place. The winner representing the National League was New York Mets pitcher, Jacob deGrom, who won the Cy Young Award last season, wins it again this season. deGrom held an earned run average (ERA) at 2.43 with eleven wins and eight losses. deGrom also had 255 strikeouts. Hyun-Jin-Ryu finished second in voting, with Scherzer finishing third in voting. 

The American League Manager of the Year finalists were Rocco Baldelli of the Minnesota Twins, Aaron Boone of the New York Yankees, and Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays. The National League finalists were Craig Counsell of the Milwaukee Brewers, Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves, and Mike Shildt of the St. Louis Cardinals. On Nov. 12, 2019, the winners were announced as the winner representing the American League was Rocco Baldelli. This was Baldelli’s first season with the Twins and he won 101 games during the season. But don’t leave out Boone and Cash as great managers. Boone had 30 of his best players on the injured list throughout the season and had to call up many prospects. Despite all the injuries, 

Boone led the Yankees to 103 wins. Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays won 96 games and pushed the Astros to the limit in the playoffs. The Rays entered the season as the team with the lowest payroll and had at least 24 million dollars to sign players. Cash is smart when it comes to baseball, as he uses a bullpen pitcher to start a game and they won most of the games. Boone finished second and Cash finished third. The winner representing the National League was St. Louis Cardinals manager, Mike Shildt. Shildt is the first manager to win the award and never play professional baseball. Craig Counsell, finished second, while Brian Snitker finished third. 

The Rookies of the Year finalists for the American League were Houston Astros Yordan Alvarez, Tampa Bay Rays’ Brandon Lowe, and Baltimore Orioles’, John Means. The finalists for the National League were Pete Alonso from the New York Mets, Fernando Tatis Jr. from the San Diego Padres, and Mike Soroka from the Atlanta Braves. The winners were announced on Nov. 12, 2019. The winner representing the American League was Yordan Alvarez from the Astros. Alvarez, 22, hit 27 home runs and ended with a batting average of .313. and won the award unanimously. Means finished second and Lowe finished third. The winner representing the National League was Pete Alonso. Alonso hit 53 home runs, a new regular season rookie home run record, and had 120 runs batted in. Soroka finished second in voting and Tatis Jr. finished third. 

The MLB awards were very competitive this year and were awarded to highly elite players who can get things done on and off the field.

About the Writer
Photo of Jordan Dabbour
Jordan Dabbour, Business Manager

Jordan Dabbour is a junior at Durant High School and is Advertising Business Manager for the PawPrint newspaper. He is an avid sports fan, and loves to...

Swinging for the fences: 2019 Rays season Overview

The+Rays+celebrate+their+valiant+efforts+throughout+the+eason.

The Rays celebrate their valiant efforts throughout the eason.

The 2019 MLB season found the Rays in a familiar spot: a few new faces, a few returning players, and fewer fans in the stands in St. Pete’s Tropicana Field. Little did 2019 AL Manager of the Year Kevin Cash know that 2019 would be the first time the 22-year-old Rays would make it to the postseason since 2013.

The Rays season began on an optimistic note with a series win against eventual 2019 World Series runner up, the Houston Astros.  However, a rash of injuries swept through the Rays’ clubhouse mid-April, sending Blake Snell (fractured right toe), Austin Meadows (right thumb sprain), Joey Wendle (hamstring sprain), fan-favorite Ji-Man Choi (calf tightness), and veteran Matt Duffy (pulled hamstring) to the Injured List (IL). Surprisingly, Kevin Kiermaier, known for his extended annual stints on the IL, avoided getting injured, but did miss games in the middle of the season with a variety of injuries. The Rays ended April with a 19-12 record, including a sweep against the Red Sox.

The Rays won 16 of their 27 games in May, including two series against the New York Yankees and a series against the Cleveland Indians.  Riley Brown, a sophomore at Durant High School, says that the Yankees were the toughest opponent for the Rays to face this year, alluding to the few games the Rays won against their division opponents.  Tampa Bay also led sweeps against cross-state rivals, the Miami Marlins, and international opponents, the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Rays avoided their common summer slump, winning more than half of their games in June.  However, behind the scenes, Rays’ ownership was exploring a future deal with Montreal (who lost their MLB Franchise when the Expos became the current Washington Nationals), due to low profit from low attendance at Tropicana Field.  Stadium deal rumors, such as this, have become a common headline in Tampa for many years, so much that Rays’ fans are accustomed to the threats to draw baseball away from the west coast of Florida.  The rumors have yet to amount to any action.

Grant Greenwell, a sophomore at Durant says “[the Rays] are probably gonna move pretty soon or are gonna be a two-city team at least.”  Rays fans have mixed opinions on the matter.  Austin Haley, a Durant Chemistry teacher, says that he hopes the rumors will result in reopening talks to keep the Rays in Florida, but at a better location.  However, the Rays need a lot more than a few passionate fans to keep them in Tampa Bay.

Despite the stadium drama, Rays’ players remained focused on the game and managed to get three players elected to the AL All-Star game on July 9: utility player, Brandon Lowe, Charlie Morton, and rookie sensation, Austin Meadows.  Lowe and Morton were unable to play in the game due to an injury and the pitching schedule, but Meadows represented the Ray, entering the game in the 4th inning playing outfield for three innings and an at bat.

Facing the second half of the season, the Rays had one thing in mind: the playoffs.  Rays ended July playing the Red Sox for the fourth time in 2019.  Tampa Bay swept the Olde Towne Team at Fenway Park in four games, leading them into August on another high note, being the first team to win eight games at Boston in one season since 1966.  Catcher Travis D’Arnaud had an outstanding July, batting .304 and hitting 25 RBIs.

With a pitching staff largely on the IL, the Rays managed an impressive performance in the post season push.  The Rays relied on an innovative pitching approach with an “opener”, but without many of their starters, their approach was limited.  The offense managed to drive the Rays to 17 wins in 27 games.  Rays’ shortstop Willy Adames continued his stellar sophomore year, hitting .304 with 28 hits.

Rays’ fans, players, and coaches were watching the Wild Card standings, knowing their performance in September would control their post season fate.  Their pitchers were finally getting healthy and batters were swinging for the fences.  September began by completing a sweep against the Cleveland Indians, followed by 15 more wins.  Left fielder Tommy Pham closed out the season setting five 2019 team records, including 25 stolen bases and 33 doubles.  The last win in the regular season came against the Toronto Blue Jays on September 27.  Not only did the Rays beat the Blue Jays 6-2, they clinched one of the two Wild Card spots, followed by an extensive champagne celebration in Toronto’s visitor’s locker room.  The Rays would be playing in October for the first time since 2013.

Austin Haley, “[the Rays’] run differential was great this year,” and contributes that to their offensive success.  Throughout regular season, the Rays were only outscored in the month of August and outscored opponents 796-656 overall.

The Rays faced the Oakland Athletics in the Wild Card game on October 2nd, sending Charlie Morton to lead the defense for the first five innings, but they didn’t have to rely on their pitching and defense alone.  Yandy Diaz, returning third baseman, had an excellent performance hitting two back to back homers.  Avisail Garcia and Tommy Pham contributed to the offensive assault leading the Rays to a 5-1 victory over the Athletics, taking them to the American League Divisional Series.

After one day off, the Rays flew to Houston for the first two games of the series.  Rays fans weren’t giving up hope, even after dropping the first two games to Houston, being outscored 9-3.  Back on their home turf, the Rays challenged the Astros in a spectacular offensive show.  Kevin Kiermaier, who had had a rather quiet bat in the regular season, matched Altuve’s solo homerun with a three-run homer in the bottom of the second.  Aces Ji-Man Choi, Austin Meadows, Tommy Pham, Brandon Lowe, and Willy Adames contributed seven more runs bring the final score to 10-3.  The Rays were making a comeback.

The fourth game was just as exciting for Rays’ fans.  Justin Verlander would be pitching on three days’ rest for the first time in his career-a major mistake by Astro’s management.  Started by Diego Castillo, the Rays pitched a shutout through eight innings spoiled by a solo homerun by Houston catcher Robinson Chirinos.

Unfortunately, a sharp eye from the Astros’ dug out ended the Rays’ post season battle.  The Astros decoded Tyler Glasnow’s pitching positions, allowing them to read the pitch before it was thrown.  The Astros’ beat the Rays 6-1 in the decisive game 5 of the ALDS.  The Rays would be heading home after an impressive and unexpected fight with the Houston Astros.

Nevertheless, the Rays saw their regular and post season performance as a team victory.  In an interview with ABC, Eric Sogard voiced his praise for the 2019 Rays saying, “I think we surprised a lot of people. We believed in ourselves the whole way, we believed we could have done it. We went up against the best team, we gave them a fight in five games.”

The Rays performance this year was not about winning the World Series; it was about perseverance, fighting, and impressing every baseball fan.

About the Writer
Photo of Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher, Editor in Chief

Lily Belcher is a junior at Durant High School and is the Editor in Chief for the PawPrint. She is freelancing for the Osprey Observer this year and hopes...

Cash Snubbed for Manager of the Year

Kevn Cash, a native to the Tampa Bay, has managed the Tampa Bay Rays for five years.

ESPN

Kevn Cash, a native to the Tampa Bay, has managed the Tampa Bay Rays for five years.

On November 13th MLB announced that Rocco Baldelli had won A.L. Manager of the Year. He was one of the 3 finalists, including Aaron Boone, manager of the Yankees, and Kevin Cash, skipper of the Rays. The final vote totals were 106 for Baldelli, 96 for Boone, and a staggeringly low 33 for Cash. After reports from Ken Rosenthal that it would be close between Boone and Cash it came as a surprise that not only that Baldelli won, but also that Kevin Cash got beaten so badly.

Not only should it have been at least close between Cash and Boone, but Cash was truly the most deserving candidate, not Baldelli or Boone. Kevin Cash led the Rays to 96 wins, the second straight year of 90+ wins with him at the helm. That’s impressive for any team in the majors, but when you have the lowest payroll in the sport it makes it that much more amazing. On top of all that, the Rays used 57 players, 30 pitchers, and Kevin Cash trotted out to change the pitcher an incredible 603 times, 2nd most in baseball. And if that wasn’t enough, the Rays won those 96 games while residing in the A.L. East, the toughest division in baseball including juggernauts like the Yankees and Red Sox. 

Aaron Boone was deserving as he had injury problems of his own, dealing with 30 players being injured 39 times. However, lets face it, Boone was given a Ferrari and told not to crash it, and even if he somehow did, he had 200 million dollars to repair it. Cash had to deal with a 60-million-dollar payroll, while talented, he did not have a whole lot of resources to back it up in case of mass injury. The Rays not only had more injuries, they had less than a third of the Yankees’ payroll to fill the gaps. 

Rocco, who was the least deserving to win, but somehow came away with the award. While it was his 1st year managing and he did win 101 games, his team plays in the A.L. Comedy Central, the weakest division in baseball, and feasted off the weak teams such as the Royals, White Sox, and Tigers. He basically had no adversity to face as injuries were limited, they had the 2nd fewest in MLB history and cruised to the division, with the second-best team finishing 8 games behind them. Yet he was voted on as the winner, taking votes away from the more deserving managers such as Cash and Boone. 

The thing that seems to be the real problem is how Cash got so little amount of recognition only receiving 33 votes, finishing 66 votes behind Rocco. The manager with less payroll, more injuries, and more overall adversity not only lost but lost in a landslide. Looking at the postseason provides a great example of Cash’s leadership. The Rays and Twins both were down 2-0 heading into Game 3 of their respective series. The Rays, facing Houston, rallied back at home to tie the series 2-2 and bring the series back to Houston, while the Twins didn’t even put up a fight, losing in front of the disappointed home crowd 5-1 and failing to even win a game in October for the 19th straight year. 

Kevin Cash was the most deserving manager to win this award and he was robbed blind by the Writer’s Association who voted. At the very least he deserved more recognition for his incredible accomplishments this season than the meager 33 votes he received. Kevin Cash didn’t win the A.L. Manager of the Year, but he was the most deserving candidate and it’s a disgrace he wasn’t the winner.

About the Writer
Photo of David Fackson
David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

Rays rebound sends Series back to Houston

Two players enjoy camaraderie as the Rays' record recovers.

Yahoo Sports

Two players enjoy camaraderie as the Rays’ record recovers.

The Rays were on the plane back to St.Petersburg, down 2-0 in the ALDS against the heavily favored Houston Astros. They had run into the buzz saw of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, the top 2 pitchers in A.L. Cy Young voting, in Games 1 and 2. The Rays’ chances were bleak coming into the series but now they were at an all-time low. Most sports channels such as FS1 and MLB Network already had written off the Rays, and with New York up 2-0 in their series, they were preparing for an Astros v Yankees ALCS. However, baseball is rarely that simple, just ask the 2011 Red Sox who were up 10 games in September with 28 games remaining and managed to miss the playoffs, ironically to these same Rays. 

“We got nothing to lose,” Willy Adames said after Game 2 loss by the score of 3-1, where Gerrit Cole struck out 15 in 7.2 innings. Heading into Game 3, that mantra showed as the Rays looked to be playing much looser than the first 2 games. They played better defense, committing only 1 error between Games 3 and 4, didn’t chase as many bad pitches and most importantly, hit with runners in scoring position which led to a 10 run outburst and a 10-3 win in Game 3, cutting the series lead to 2-1. 

The Houston starter Zack Greinke struggled, not making it out of the 4th while giving up 6 runs including a 3 run blast by Kevin Kiermaier, and the bullpen didn’t do much better. Hector Rondon and Wade Miley gave up 4 runs over 2.2 innings to give the Rays a commanding 10-3 lead they would not relinquish.

The Rays, who were not a power hitting team in the regular season, finishing in the bottom 3rd for homeruns in Major League Baseball, rode the gopher ball to victory as Kiermaier, Adames, Choi, and Brandon Lowe all went deep, making sure to send the raucous 32,000 plus at Tropicana Field home happy. 

Now the series was cut to 2-1 but with Verlander looming in Game 4, the celebration from Game 3 turned into determination to win Game 4. Verlander, for the 1st time in his career, was pitching on the three days rest and he did not look sharp early, giving up a solo homerun to Tommy Pham, igniting the crowd who was ear-deafening loud, and remained that way for the remainder of the game.

After the homerun, Travis d’Arnaud snuck a ground ball through the hole to score Choi, followed by a RBI double from Joey Wendle to put up three in the 1st against a future Hall of Famer in Justin Verlander, who had shut them down just four days earlier. Suddenly the Rays were in the driver’s seat to send the series back to Houston, and since it was a bullpen day, the Rays needed the bullpen to hold the Astros, who had been dominant in the 2nd half led by power arms like Emilio Pagan, Diego Castillo, and trade deadline pick-up Nick Anderson, who pitched to the tune of a 2.11 ERA with the Rays. 

After the offense added another run on a Willy Adames solo blast and the bullpen put up 8 dominant innings it was looking like game was a lock with Tampa Bay up 4-1 after 8. However, Emilio Pagan struggled, giving up back to back singles after getting the 1st out. Kevin Cash then proceeded to make an out of the box move.

Needing two more outs to push the series to Game 5 he put in reigning Cy Young award winner Blake Snell to get the save. With runners on 1st and 3rd with one out, everyone on their feet, Snell broke out a nasty curve to finish off Yordan Alvarez on 3 pitches. Next was Yuli Gurriel, who on the 1st pitch hit a rocket up the middle. Luckily, because of the shift, Joey Wendle was right there, made the play, and the Rays had done what most experts and fans thought was impossible, they had forced a Game 5.

Suddenly, after being up 2-0, Houston was now facing elimination. With one more win, Tampa Bay could “shock some people” as Kevin Cash put it and turn October on its head. Kevin Kiermaier put it best: “We ain’t done yet, we ain’t yet.”

About the Contributor
Photo of David Fackson
David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

Tampa Bay Rays Finish a Great Season

Tampa Bay, Fla.–The Tampa Bay Rays are finishing their twentieth anniversary season this fall with a great record, despite having to trade all their star players at the start of the season.

The Tampa Bay Rays traded most of their star players during the 2017 off-season. They traded star player and face of the franchise, Evan Longoria. Longoria played for the Rays for 10 seasons. With Longoria gone, the Rays then traded team All-Star, Corey Dickerson, who’s batting average was over 300. They also traded slugger, Logan Morrison. With most of the team gone, the Rays called up key players Willy Adames, Jake Bauers, and traded for a bunch of prospects to call up from their minor league affiliate, the Durham Bulls.

The team was desperate for good players for offense and defense. People were saying the Rays were going to be a horrible team. Some people even said they wouldn’t win 60 games. The Rays shocked the whole world by ending their season this fall with over 85 wins. They had an unbelievable season despite the team having mostly rookies.

The team could have even gone on to play in the playoffs if they were in the National League but they are in the American League East with some of the toughest teams in the MLB such as the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles. The Rays ended this season in third place but they were so close to getting the second wild card spot. However, the Oakland Athletics team clinched the spot and they will face the New York Yankees to see who will play in the American League Division Series.

The Rays were led by star pitcher, Blake Snell, who set a franchise record for most wins in a single season for a Rays pitcher passing David Price’s twenty wins in 2012 when he won the Cy Young award. Snell will be talked about in the Cy Young candidate race for the American League this year.

With such a surprise ending to this amazing Rays season, this sports fan wonders what is in store for next season. Here’s hoping to a playoff spot!

About the Contributor
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Jordan Dabbour, Business Manager

Jordan Dabbour is a junior at Durant High School and is Advertising Business Manager for the PawPrint newspaper. He is an avid sports fan, and loves to...

The Future of the Tampa Bay Rays

A sports review

Tampa, Fla.–I thought it couldn’t get any worse after they traded their franchise player.

Although I don’t consider myself to be a die-hard baseball fan, as a casual follower of my home team, I was left in pure shock.

How could we have traded our franchise player?

The Tampa Bay Rays have long been paraded as a team on the verge of moving.

Their payroll is frequently hovering towards the low side; last year’s payroll, about $71.6 million, is ranked 26th highest in the MLB (via Sportrac).  The Rays are currently sitting at 27th.

Their attendance is the worst of any team in the MLB, and understandably.

Their stadium is in St. Petersburg, in an awful area where very few residents of the Tampa area would want to drive. Their stadium, Tropicana Field is also the ugliest place to play by far.

The team itself is mediocre at best, additionally, frequently hovering under a positive win-loss ratio years removed from their World Series run.

Whenever the team acquires any sort of talent, give it a few years and they’ll be traded away for pennies on the dollar and become a star in a big market.

Remember David Price? Ben Zobrist?  James Shields?  Wil Myers?

Then there was the 2018 offseason.

In the span of a month before Spring Training, the Rays traded star third baseman Evan Longoria, outfielder Steven Souza Jr., pitcher Jake Odorizzi, outfielder Corey Dickerson, and first baseman Logan Morrison. All of these mentioned were a part of the starting roster.

The Rays are now in danger of possibly losing pitcher Chris Archer due to the inability to sign anyone to a large contract and may eventually cause center fielder Kevin Kiermaier to request a trade, among others.

Many Rays fans on social media have been slamming their team’s moves over the course of the offseason and calling for general manager Erik Neander to be fired.

With such a lack of funding and ever-growing dissent for the front office, the Rays could be in danger of losing their team once the lease on their stadium ends and the attempts to relocate in the Tampa area falls through.

With the desire to put another team in Canada or in another part of the country, the Rays’ time may be up soon if the team continues to sink deeper into mediocrity.

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