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Posts Tagged ‘Tampa Bay Rays’


Slappa my face!

It ain’t over until it is over! It is hard to evaluate a team’s offseason until it is over.

There was a lot of whining in Red Sox Nation about the fact that the Red Sox didn’t sign any high profile players. People fail to see that a few key players got significant raises (like Crawford and A-Gon) and they will probably have the 2nd or 3rd highest payroll in MLB. Even the Yankees were relatively quiet.

Things were busy, and crazy, around Yawkey Way this winter. Theo left a huge mess for Ben Cherington.  He’s a thoughtful NH guy who sounds an awful lot like Theo. But he’s acting like the Theo before the 2003 season. That is the Theo I liked. He played Money Ball, finding undervalued guys like David Ortiz and Kevin Millar that ended up being the foundation of a World Series championship.

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The allegation over the winter was that the Red Sox had become the Yankees.  They are perceived as in the Yankees’ league.  But I think that despite the fact that the Red Sox are in the upper tier, yet again, no one is in the Yankees’ league.  Here is the Top 5:

1. Yankees $202,689,028
2. Phillies $172,976,379
3. Red Sox $161,762,475
4. Angels $138,543,166
5. White Sox $127,789,000

The Red Sox are not 2nd in salary.  The Phillies have that distinction.  And they are the only team from the AL in the top 5.  Don’t worry, it balances itself out.  3 of the 5 teams with the lowest payrolls are AL teams.

The Yankees are spending about $41 million more than the Red Sox.  That is great than the payroll of 2 teams, the Rays and the Royals.  The Mets, ranking 7th, are spending $43 million less than the Red Sox.  So, in context, the Sox aren’t in the Yankees’ league regarding payroll.  The Yankees spend far and away more than anyone else.

Note some specifics as well.  Among the top 20 players in salary (Crawford would be there if you include his signing bonus), the Yankees have A-Rod, CC, Tex (in the top 5) and Burnett.  The Red Sox only have 1, Beckett who comes in at 19th.  This means the Red Sox spread out their salary a bit more than the Yankees.  The Yankees will pay A-Rod, CC & Tex just over $79 million dollars.  That is more money than the payrolls of 12 teams.  Yes, 12 teams have lower payrolls.  Toss in Burnett and it is $96 million.  This more than the payroll of 18 teams, 18!

Yes, the Red Sox are one of the teams that spend the most.  But no one spends like the Yankees.

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It has been a strange season.  And it is less than 2 months old.

We have yet to see the 2010 Red Sox.  In the next few days we’ll see something close to the 2010 Red Sox.  If you were to remove 2 starting outfielders from any MLB team, they would struggle.  When they are players like Ellsbury and Cameron, you can understand why the Red Sox have struggled this year.

The players roaming LF and CF in their stead, while driving in some runs, have given up quite a few runs with abysmal defense.  The game against the Yankees earlier this week was marred by missed plays that Ellsbury and Cameron would have made.

Scutaro has done reasonably well as the leadoff man, but Ellsbury adds a whole different dimension.  With the threat of the stolen base, he messes with a pitcher’s head.  The loss of Ellsbury for most of this season has been tremendous.  You take Crawford and Upton out of the Rays’ line up for over and month and they are tanking it.  The only significant injury, if you want to call it that, the Rays have endured is to the bullpen.  Not quite the same as 2 everyday guys.

Their loss put a big strain on the pitching staff.  Here’s hoping that the pitchers not named Lester, Clay and Bard benefit from that increased defensive presence.

So, I think the Red Sox will look very different from this point on.  They will look far more like we expected them to look (except the offense has been better than some people thought it would be).  They are in the running for the Wild Card as the Yankees start to deal with multiple injuries as well.

While we can’t push the reset button, I think we’ll see a much improved team in the weeks and months ahead.  Maybe joy will return to some of the unrealistic fans of Fenway.

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It has been a miserable season for the Red Sox in terms of injuries.  They have been hit hard from the very beginning of the season as Beckett had a back issue.  Those who’ve missed time include Big Papi, Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew, Lugo (thankfully), Dice-K, Wake, Colon (the low-risk gamble didn’t really pay off).

But the Red Sox STILL made the playoffs.  Putting the season in context, I’m content with winning the Wild Card.  The Rays had a great season, and despite some significant injuries, held on to win the division.  They almost had the best record in the AL.  But the Sox did suffer far more significant injuries to key keys.

And now they limp into the playoffs, possibly to be decimated by the Angels just like the White Sox destroyed them in 2005.  Lowell’s hip is still bothering him, and that affects not just his fielding but also his hitting.  Lowell is an important part of this team.  He’ll try to play, but we’ll see if he can deliver. 

J.D. Drew MIGHT be okay.  As someone who has had a bad back the last few years, you just never know how it will feel.  If it holds up, he could be an important contributing member of the squad- like in last year’s playoff drive.

Lugo had another setback, which allows Lowrie to have an opportunity to shine.  We won’t miss he of the weak bat and suspect defense.

Papi’s wrist is still a huge question mark.  It is a day-by-day thing.  When your big bat has such issues it doesn’t bode well.

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