We have discussed this twice before within posts about other topics…We felt the topic needed its own stage…
It usually goes something like this:
The Rays are doing a great job this year…Of course they have been bad so long that they were able to capitalize on all those high draft picks.
Nothing irks us more than when somebody (mainstream media-types in particular) perpetuates a myth without actually doing any, you know, research. We heard it again from the Blue Jays TV announcers during game 1 of the current series.
Of the 28 players on the roster (including 3 on DL), only three were drafted by the Rays in the first round (BJ Upton, Evan Longoria, Rocco Baldelli) and Rocco has only been with the Rays since Aug. 10. Of the remaining players, Carl Crawford was drafted in the 2nd round, in which every other team passed on him at least once, and four were drafted in the 10th round or later, including two very important pieces of the starting rotation, James Shields (16th round) and Andy Sonnanstine (13). 13 players were acquired via trade and seven were signed as free agents including two players that were signed to minor league deals (Eric Hinske, Carlos Pena).
And in case anybody thinks that the 13 players acquired via trade were traded for a bunch of high draft picks, let’s breakdown each of those trades [Ed. note: in the right column, notes in parentheses indicate how the traded player was originally acquired by the Rays]…
And all those “high draft picks” that the Rays have been hording? Starting in 1999 (first season in which draft pick was based on previous season’s record) the Rays have selected 10 players in the first round. Let’s see how those picks have fared…
Only two players have been significant contributors to this year’s roster. The Red Sox have four players that have logged significant playing time this season, that were drafted in just the first round of the 2005 draft (Jacoby Ellsbury, Craig Hansen, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie).
The Rays have the best record in baseball this season due to several factors, only one of which has to do with sucking for 10 years: 1) They are the master of the role-player trade. While most teams target stars or potential stars in trades, and think roles can be filled from within, the Rays have targeted players on other teams that would be more valuable to the Rays than to their original team; 2) [from commenter Robert] “Rays have also done a good job trolling the junkyard of discarded players and the free agent lists.” Similar to point 1 but on the free agent market (ie. Pena, Hinske, Percival, Reyes); 3) Using their most valuable asset to turn two negatives into positives. They traded Young for Garza and Bartlett, who solidified both the rotation and the defense, which in turn helped the pitchers. The Rays recognized that the number of runs created by Young was not nearly as many as the number of runs that could be prevented by adding a solid pitcher and a gold glove-caliber shortstop; 4) Joe Maddon. In only his 3rd season, Papa Joe is already in line for his first Manager of the Year award and arguably is one of the top 5 managers in baseball.
So next time you hear somebody say the Rays are only good because they have been drafting near the top of the draft for 10 years, slap them across the face and then make them read this post.