After winning his 500th game with the Rays yesterday, Joe Maddon was asked about his time with the organization and what has changed…

I’ve said it before, this is the best place in the Major Leagues to be a manager. And I really believe that this has become a destination spot for players. I know maybe we don’t pay the most money, but as a place to participate, and as a place to grow and feel free as a major leaguer and to take your game to the field, I think this is a great place to play.

This is probably true, but only to a certain extent.

If you are a fringe big leaguer that hasn’t gotten a shot in other organizations, the Rays are definitely an enticing destination. Not only will you get a shot to make the club, but if you do make the club, you won’t be buried on the bench, as Maddon uses all 25 players on the roster extensively.

But we doubt the same can be said for the top free agents. Even if the money was the same, which it isn’t, players with their choice of where to play are probably not targeting the Rays.

There is the minimal exposure in the Tampa-St. Pete market, and fewer marketing opportunities. There are the small crowds. There is The Trop and the Astroturf. And again, there is how Maddon uses his roster.

If you are a player that wants to play 155 games, you probably won’t do it with the Rays.

We think the Rays are a team many players would like to play for. And we believer Maddon is a manager that many players would prefer as a leader. But in the end, many of those same players also know there are other factors that are more important.

That being said, the Rays will always have the pick of the litter when it comes to the Jeff Keppingers of the world.



  1. Dave L says:

    And I think for the sake of team chemistry, its better if we dont bring in those high priced free agents. The really good ones not on the decline would be too high priced for us regardless and the next tier are too risky.

    I would much rather we spend our tight dollars resigning our own free agents who have proven themselves here at the Trop and in the AL East rather than run the risk of dropping another fat steaming Pat Burrell like turd into Maddons punchbowl.

  2. Gus says:

    Carl Crawford might beg to differ with you Cork.

    For pitchers and infielders, Trop is actually a great place to play. OF's may complain about the turf, but balancing things out, winning is better. Just ask any Oriole who has played at lovely Camden Yards. Much rather be a Ray the last 7 years. For that Maddon deserves a ton of credit.

    Plus the clubhouse is first rate, and the Budweiser flows in the clubhouse (unlike other tightly wound places). No state taxes, spring training nearby for the family concerns.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Evan Longoria has complained about playing on the turf. And he has also complained about playing in front of small crowds, as has David Price.

      And why would Crawford beg to differ? He took the money and ran. And even if things haven't gone well, his regret would be that he chose Boston over L.A., not the Rays.

  3. Beth says:

    But the point is....Rays can't compete for top free agents, and they never will unless baseball completely restructures its compensation system.

    So they try to maximize the slim advantages they can maximize. A front office that treats players with respect; a team that, at least since 2008, is competitive each year; a manager who will never hold a press conference to complain that player X isn't trying hard (cough, Bobby Valentine, cough).

    I think that's all that Maddon is trying to say. Of course that's not going to compensate for the $100 million they don't have to sign Albert Pujols.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Yes, this is true. But every winter we hear about the Rays being involved with some of the bigger free agent names. Maybe not the Pujols and Fielders and Crawfords. But they do get linked to some guys on the next tier and the discussion is almost always the same.

      "If Player A's price comes down then the Rays could swoop in."

      And if playing for a franchise like the Rays and a manager like Maddon were truly important to these players, their price would come down. But the player's price never comes down.

      • Beth says:

        Yes, I agree. I can't decide if the Rays or deluded, or if players and their agents make noises about being open to discussions (at lower rates) with the Rays just because they like to keep as many bidders in the game as possible.

        The sorts of quality of life things that Maddon mention are things you consider when weighing a job paying $50,000 against one paying $52,000. When your offers are millions of dollars apart, then those intangibles become less important.

        But I'll tell you what -- if I'm an older reliever who's coming back from an injury or an off year, the Rays are high on my list. What's the collective salary today of the Rays' 2010 bullpen?

      • Nick says:

        Carlos Pena came back even though Cleveland offered him more Cash. That is at least 1 player who looked at the benefits of playing for Tampa and chose to take less.

  4. don says:

    Most of the older players by the time they hit the Rays they are over-the-hill....hell yes they are happy to be here...and even Rays pay is better than no pay....


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