The Sports Banter attempted to rank the off-season improvements of every MLB team. Despite the Rays filling their one hole (closer) with a proven commodity (Rafael Soriano) and only having to pay for the player with a four-A pitcher, the Rays are near the bottom of the rankings…

(25) Rays: I was critical of Tampa Bay last offseason and have no reason to ease off the gas here (insert lame Toyota joke here). The Rays – essentially – traded Akinori Iwamura for Rafael Soriano and his $7.25m salary. They also acquired C Kelly Shoppach from the Indians for a PTBNL… and that’s about it.

Solidifying the back end of the bullpen will help (albeit at a hefty cost), but for a team on the cusp of competing, more could have and should have been done. Now, the Rays need to depend on their farm system to produce, and to produce quickly, if they have any hopes of playing deep into October.

Rule #1 for any writer: Research is your friend! Try it some time.

First of all, Aki Iwamura was traded because Ben Zobrist can do the second base job much better (8.6 WAR vs 1.3 WAR) at a fraction of the cost ($450K vs $4.25M). Considering the alternative was declining Aki’s option, getting anything for him was a “win.”

Second, Kelly Shoppach was acquired for Mitch Talbot, a triple-A pitcher with no future in the organization and who is out of minor league options. Considering the alternative was releasing Talbot, getting a proven big league catcher for him was a “win.”

Finally, let’s look at the idiocy of the final statement.

Anybody that knows anything about the Rays know that they have two of the top prospects in baseball in Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson. Those two players already have triple-A experience and yet there is a good chance that neither sniffs the big leagues this season. Why? BECAUSE THE RAYS DON’T NEED THEM. The Rays have a lineup that includes 6 players that have appeared in an All-Star game and five young, cheap and very talented starting pitchers.

So to say the Rays will need help from the minors just proves how little The Sports Banter knows about the Rays. But that is OK. It is difficult, if not impossible, for one writer to try and cover all 30 teams and actually provide insight. There is just too much information, and when somebody attempts to do it, the lack of knowledge is as obvious as a neon sign that just smacked you in the face.

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10 Comments

  1. Tone says:

    I am not happy with the Aki trade. If Soriano is a bust then we have Pat Burrell part duex. Aki was proven, Zobrist is not a better 2nd baseman, but is a very good right fielder. I still firmly believe in the 2008 team and that they should have gotten a closer instead of Burrell(always hated that move). Chemistry means something. The moves have been strange/shitty since Garza/Young trade. Kazmir trade should have been in the off season, or before last season would have been best. Weird and kind of disrespectful. Team shut down after that move, made it hard to watch for like 2 weeks.

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    • Kyle says:

      You sir, obviously ignore stats. If you look at all the fielding statistics out there, Zobrist outperforms Aki in almost every one at 2b. I'm not knocking on Aki, I like him as a player but it would help your case if you made sense.
      Also, if Soriano does not "work out" we do not have Burrell part "duex" because Soriano is only on contact for one year. Next time you post try backing up what you say before you post it. BTW you can find Zobrist & Aki's fielding stats here: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/

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      • Tone says:

        I don't care about stats as much as you, they are not worth much to me. I watch the games(all of em') and have seen with my own eyes the slower Zobrist is to 1st on DPs. Aki's value transcended the bullshit stat garbage so many fans worship these days. All that shit is cool to a point, but it only tells a small story.

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        • td says:

          That's a well thought out response. Zobrist represents a huge upgrade over Aki offensively, and the Saber community(which the Rays FO is a part of) believes he is significantly better defensively as well. But Tone has watched a lot of baseball, so he has that going or him....

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          • Dan Lowe says:

            Well thought out response, indeed. 'Zobrist looks slow on TV [where it's impossible to judge a player's acceleration or defensive ability or baserunning] so he obviously stinks.' That he happens to be seven Wins Above Replacement Player better than the guy he's replacing -- the difference between, say, Albert Pujols and Kevin Youkilis -- is just pure gobbledygook. If you're looking for some sort of support for an alternate reality where what's actually the case is completely false, then yeah, I guess statistics don't tell the whole story.

            The saddest part is that I hate Ben Zobrist, much like I hate most of the Rays. You guys should resign Rocco. Otherwise, good riddance.

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    • Mark says:

      To be fair to Tone. I believe the one area that Aki is better then Ben at is turning two. Zorilla does have better range.

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  2. Matt says:

    I hate to sound totally homer, but all the moves seem logical -- the Rays have positioned themselves to win the division. Maybe there are bigger names with the empire or biggest band-wagon in America, but there is no greater potential than here with the Rays. Also, as a homer-type fan, I'm sad to see Aki go but thrilled he ended up where I can see him. McKechnie.

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  3. Don says:

    Actually... the less other teams/writers know what is happening with the Rays the better...no matter what they write...thats fine...
    I'm thinking about Tone to help them out...then mass confusion prevails!

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  4. Johnny says:

    I agree that the moves the Rays made this offseason will better the team, but will they allow us to leapfrog the Sox and Yanks? Probably not. The Rays aren't much better than they were last season, and I think that's where the blogger's issues lie.

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  5. Luis D says:

    The best 2 improvements the 2010 Rays have from 2009 are Soriano and Derek Shelton (if they both meet their expectations). We could't win a close game because of our lack of a closer and because our lack of clutch hitting (or hitting at all),... remember Buehrle? So, expecting BJ, Burrell and Navarro can't perform worse than last year, and Maddon focus a little bit more on WINNING GAMES, we are going to have pretty good numbers this season. We can own the AL with our talent. Yankees and Sox are going to implode this season with injuries and blown arms, struggling with the Jays and Rangers for the wild card. Wait and see.

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