The headline of this morning’s column by John Romano in the The St. Pete Times reads as follows:

Tampa Bay Rays nearing decision on whether to make push for this year or next

Whoa! Today is June 13. The Rays are two games back in the Wild Card and just four games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. With SEVEN weeks to go before the trade deadline, why in the world would the Rays make a decision now on whether or not to make a run for the playoffs this year?!?!?

They wouldn’t.

RED FLAG #1: One of the first things we do when we read a newspaper column is look for quotes. We like to read them clean, without the bias and framework of the writer. This column has no quotes. That’s interesting.

OK, so Romano isn’t getting this from the team. That’s cool. He can still make a convincing argument even if it is not based on insider information.

RED FLAG #2: The third paragraph.

Andrew Friedman wakes up, looks at those same standings and has to figure out, by the time the calendar reaches mid September, whether Tampa Bay can still be a contender.

Does Andrew Friedman need to decide if they “can” be a contender, or does he need to decide if they “will” be a contender? Because the answer to the first question is easy. There is absolutely nothing about this team that says they cannot be a contender. That doesn’t mean they will. But the starting pitching is just too good for this team to fall out of the race in the near future.

RED FLAG #3: What the definition of “is” is.

[So will they be buyers or sellers?]…The clues start arriving this week. Beginning Tuesday, the Rays will play the Red Sox and Yankees 14 times in 31 games. And when that streak is over, they will be about a week away from the nonwaiver trading deadline.

*Looks back at the title, sees word “nearing.” Looks back at this paragraph, sees “31 games” and “when they streak is over.” Looks at calendar. Shakes head*

OK. So by “nearing decision,” Romano really means nearing the trade deadline, which is seven weeks away. The same time every other team in this league will be “nearing decisions.”

RED FLAG #4: More calendar fail.

In order for Tampa Bay to become buyers, I would assume it would need to make up some ground or at least remain stable in the standings in the next month. Maybe then they could look around for free-agents-to-be on struggling clubs…And if the Rays fall any further behind Boston and New York, they will have to seriously consider turning some of their veterans into prospects.

OK, you guys get the idea now. The Rays are nearing decisions the same way Scott Kazmir used to near complete games in the 5th inning.

RED FLAG #5: Time exaggeration.

There is still plenty of time left in the season — nearly 100 games for the Rays — but the hour for making tough decisions is fast approaching…In the next six weeks or so, the Rays will have to decide whether they want to place a bet on 2011, or start reshuffling the deck.

The hour is fast approaching! *Amok! Amok! Amok!* That sounds so ominous.

The decision is nearing! In only 1,008 hours (the number of hours in 6 weeks), the Rays will decide whether to be buyers or sellers. Just like every other team in this league.

 
 

10 Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    I thought Romano’s column wasn’t bad, but the timing was off. It’s as though he had this already drafted for publication 6 weeks from now, realized yesterday that he had a column deadline and hadn’t done anything yet, and therefore published this one even though it’s scarcely relevant today. Yeah, we get it, if the Rays lose a few series to the Red Sox and Yankees then they could fall out of contention.

    Both Romano and Shelton seem, to me, to publish 70% filler, with Romano usually a bit more insightful than Shelton. I rarely see any indication that either has done any research at all. Perhaps it’s just not possible to cover so many sports, as they do, and sound insightful about any of them.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I agree that the premise is fine. At first I was even going to chalk it up to a poorly written headline by an editor that did not read the column very closely (which happens way too often). But when Romano starts talking about the “hour for making tough decisions” I realized the headline is exactly what he was trying to convey.

  2. Don says:

    A little early…but boy its getting crowded in the outfield…now with rig and Jennings rotting in the minors….Dump BJ!

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I think it is entirely possible to trade BJ Upton and still make a push for the playoffs. That is one piece in which the standings has little bearing on the trade probability.

  3. Daredevil says:

    The quotes from the article make it seem like in order to improve the team, trades might need to be made. I think we can make improvements just by using our AAA guys. Release Shoppach, recall Lobaton. Release Sonnanstine, recall Cory Wade. Trade Upton, recall Jennings. Send down Brignac, recall Guyer (to get another hot bat on the team). When Niemann comes back, keep Cobb in the rotation, send Davis to the bullpen to sharpen up, and demote Ramos to Durham. These moves would strengthen our team and hopefully help keep us in contention. If we stand pat, I don’t think we are good enough.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      i would say it is indeed a longshot that the Rays grab an impact player via trade. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they go out and grab a veteran role player. If they aren’t sold yet on the triple-A catchers, maybe they go grab a veteran catcher that is nearing free agency.

    • Tone says:

      Cory Wade was released today. I am sure you would be fine with anybody-else but Sonnanstine; as would 99% of Rays fans.

  4. Tone says:

    Cork, I understand why you think the article was silly, but I took something else from it. For me, you look at what moves/non-moves the front office has made since the club turned around the awful start and I am inclined to think they have already turned the page on contending in 2011. I take the article as Romano’s way of putting that out there without actually saying that the club has already moved on. The Times will not call out the Front Office directly; it’s always indirect. Anyway, they started Andy Sonnanstine more than once. Even one spot start is not ideal, but they kept putting him out there. No sane MLB Front Office would start him more than once while trying to contend in the AL East where EVERY win is crucial. I think they have approached this year with optimism but really looked at it much like 09 when the Yanks loaded up. This year was likely viewed as a much bigger challenge than 09 for obvious reasons. They will be trading players whether the team is 1 game back or 7. They are saber guys and every saber guy has the Rays getting to high 80′s in wins at best. I believe in magic and fairy dust, that is why I think they have a chance.

    • Sarah says:

      I agree, they have obviously seen this as a rebuilding year, even more so than they did in 2009. But the question is: will they stubbornly stick to that view even if at the All Star break the team is clearly contending?

      • Tone says:

        In my opinion, yes. 2009 was not completely thought of as a rebuilding year and the Rays were still contenders, yet they traded Kazmir because a good package was offered. If they get a really good offer for Upton, Shields, or Damon, they will take it. I don’t think they pull the trigger unless an offer is seen as good though. I could see them keeping Shields because of how many innings he eats and the other starters are young. But if someone offers a sick package for him he is gone. There are a lot of holes on this team and I am sure Joyce and Kotchman are not expected to continue at their current pace. The math tells them to plan for the future. I just hope they at least plan for 2012 and not beyond. I personally think Stu’s dealings with St. Pete are dictating the lunacy. In my mind, Price and Longoria in their prime is a terrible thing to waste. Politics; it messes up so many things in life including baseball.

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