Ask Gary: Would Rays sell team to Jeff Vinik?

by Gary Shelton on July 2, 2016 · 2 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays

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Now that the Rays are regressing back to the horrid ways of the Devil Rays, do you think that this ownership group will eventually realize their business model is not working & sell the team? If that were to happen do you think there is any chance that Jeff Vinik could step in & buy the Rays?

Larry Beller

Larry, it's hard to say the business model isn't working when it got the team to four playoffs in six years. That's one of the best records in the league, frankly.

It's not working as far as winning the ultimate prize (the World Series), or as far as drawing fans. It's certainly better than the business model that was in

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place before the front office got here.

I've talked to Stu Sternberg about selling, and he's always said that he would sell the team rather than move it. But I think he likes being a sports owner.

If I was Jeff Vinik, I'd stay away from the Rays. It's a more expensive sport where it's harder to win. And it's proven that you aren't going to draw a lot. So if you're Vinik, what would you do if you owned the Rays? Pump more money into it? That doesn't seem to make sense to me.

Frankly, in this market, I think the only business model that makes sense is a penny-watching team that keeps costs down and tries to develop its minor leaguers. If Sternberg sells the team, and if it doesn't immediately move to Montreal, the next owner would try to do the same thing.

Now that Stamkos is signed, do you think he will have any more leverage with Cooper if he is asked to move to wing again instead of his preferred position of center? Why would Cooper want him there anyway since he is much more productive at center? Is it an ego thing with Cooper?

Larry Beller

 If anything, Stamkos would have less leverage than when he has an opportunity to leave. In his conference call, Stamkos was asked about his relationship with Cooper and said it was blown out of proportion, that the lines of communication were open.

I don't really think it's ego with Cooper. I think he thinks that Stammer can get set up for his shot with more frequency at the wing. I don't necessarily agree, but one of the weak points of Stammer's game is that he doesn't create his own shot frequently enough.
But Stammer has grown up at center, and he takes pride in it. Still, he's locked in for eight years now. Cooper and Stamkos need to get used to each other. They're riding together for a long time.

If your expenses were paid for you to attend the Rio Olympics, would you go?

Scott Myers

I can have a bag packed in 15 minutes.

I love the Olympics more than anything I've ever done. Australia was great. Lillehammer was amazing. China was fascinating. I went to 10 in all, and I have to tell you, nothing provides better stories. I'm a sucker for flags and anthems and winners who cry.

There were so many stories. The first Israeli gold medal. The survivor of a plane crash who kept pictures of his old soccer teammates on the wall. Tommy Lasorda gushing after baseball. Lauren Williams' father trying to work out the train schedule to watch her run, Nicole Haislett's gold medal. Michael Phelps. Carl Lewis. Kerri Strug. Tonya and Nancy.

I know Rio is a cesspool, and there is a Zika virus. But I'll be honest. The living accommodations weren't great at other Olympics, either. And I still loved every day I was there.

Do you think that Victor Hedman will have the same attitude that Stammer did and maybe take less to stay?   Does he like the area too?
Jim Willson
Evidently, he likes it fine. He signed his own extension Friday. He, too, said he took less money.
Still, Stamkos set a precedent. I think if Yzerman and Vinik approach anyone with a fair offer, the team is going to be listened to. Granted, down the line, there may be some players who get away. Ondrej Palat? Alex Killorn?
What you hope is that Tyler Johnson, and Nikita Kucherov see is how much better things are here that the idea of going somewhere else.
 Would you give Kevin Cash another year because of all the injuries?
Jim Willson
I think Cash will get more time regardless. The Rays aren't a team that fires its manager very often, remember. They don't think it's an automatic solution.
Cash still has three years to go on his contract. The Rays are hardly an organization that wants to pay a guy not to manage. It was explained to me this way: If the Rays haven't surrendered to the public outcry to fire, say, Derek Shelton, who would be cheaper and less messy to replace, then why should they fire Cash?
The injuries do make it harder, but in sports, players get hurt. Pitching has let this team down, and the Rays have one of the best pitching coaching staffs around.
'
 Who would you most like to interview that you haven't?

Jim Willson

Good one. I've always said Muhammad Ali, but now that he's gone, it's a little dodgier.

The criminals, if they wouldn't lie, could be fascinating. O.J. Simpson and Aaron Hernandez and Darren Sharper. But they would, so I don't want to listen to them lie. I'd love to have a conversation with Babe Ruth or Jim Thorpe or Jesse Owens, but they're all gone.

I've never been around Bill Russell, but I like what he represents. He absorbed a hell of a lot of racism in Boston. I'd love to have an honest, direct conversation with him.

Should the Rays re-unite with Carl Crawford and then release Desmond Jennings?

Howard Powders

Isn't there a Door No. 3? I love Carl Crawford. We had a great relationship when he was here. But I think he's done.

That said, I'd pick my barber over Jennings. Remember me when he becomes a great player that I doubted him, because I simply don't see the team's attraction to him. The parts are there, but it doesn't add up to nearly enough.

Given my choice, I'd probably taken Crawford. But I wouldn't be happy with either,

Evidently before the NHL awarded the franchise to Las Vegas, there was talk out there  season ticket holders would have a chance to recommend a team name. Now they don't, but regardless, I was sure you'd have a few recommendations for them. I'd lean towards the tried and true Rat Pack myself, but I'm old.

Cecil DeBald

I love the Rat Pack. They could play Sinatra and Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. They could throw fake rats onto the ice the way they used to do in Miami.

I've been partial to the One-Armed Bandits. But I also have considered "The Divorce Lawyers," "The Moe Greenes," "The Siegfried ad Roys" and "The Flying Elvises."

Thoughts?
Will Dave Andreychuk ever be selected for the NHL Hall of Fame? Should he be?

Cecil DeBald

Maybe I'm biased, because I saw the way Andreychuk transformed himself from a great player to a great leader, but you're darned right he should be in the Hall. The guy scored 640 goals. Everyone who has more is in the Hall or will be. Combine the two, and it's a no-brainer to me.

I also say this: I could knock five guys out of each of the Halls with no sweat. That certainly leaves room for the deserving.

Any thoughts on P.K. Subban's trade to Nashville? Personally, I always thought he was great when I watched him, and am glad he's in the Western Conference now.

Cecil DeBald

My only thought is that Nashville got the better of the trade. I like the thought of Subban in front of Pekka Rinne. You can't win anymore without a great player on defense, so give the Preds credit for going out and getting one.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick Martin July 3, 2016 at 7:21 pm

In the Rays’ defense, what teams are competitive for long periods of time? The Phillies who beat them in ’08 were atrocious last season? The Royals were one of the worst franchises for thirty years until their recent success. I’ll give the Rays a pass for a few seasons of sub-500 ball as they hopefully regroup and reload. I’m not sure what’s coming up the pike from their minors, but this franchise has been hit by major injuries at most positions. I’m hoping Cash can keep them in the fighting spirit even thought the talent on the field may not be there right now.

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Larry Beller July 2, 2016 at 9:51 am

Back to the Rays. That playoff run was amazing no doubt but that’s over. It’s a what have you done for me lately world & the Rays are sinking deeper in the standings each year. The attendance only gets worse. The good TV ratings won’t hold up if they continue to resemble the old Devil Rays. Management’s penny pinching ways just rub salt into the wounds of the fans. The most recent example of that is when Matt Moore had a good outing recently the newspaper commented on how his trade value may have just increased. It seems the Rays are all about trading anyone who makes over $3 or $4 million so they can “save” money on cheaper/younger players. Never mind that Matt Moore may become the true Ace of the staff & their best starter. And oh by the way, the farm system is producing nothing other than an occasional pitcher. Does anyone think Matt Silverman is the guy who can rebuild this franchise or that Kevin Cash knows how to manage? The pieces just aren’t there. It’s only early July & already this season is basically over. I’m close to being done with having any interest in the Rays. I can’t invest my time & emotions to root for this awful team. I love baseball & the Rays of Andrew Friedman & Joe Madden were my favorite local team but I don’t see this current management group being able to put a competitive product on the field or even being interesting to watch for years. Sorry but I’m out.

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