Ask Gary: It takes trust to like Lightning trade

by Gary Shelton on June 17, 2017 · 1 comment

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

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Saturday, 4 a.m

Do you think the Drouin trade is the right move for a team that is potentially trying to win the Stanley Cup next year? It seems more Rays-like to me. We know the expansion draft and salary cap is working against the Lightning but this trade seems to be a huge gamble. Drouin has shown potential superstar talent and trading him to a team in the same division while only getting a young, unproven player in return could come back to haunt the Lightning.

Larry Beller

Larry, I could bluster my way here. The truth is that no one will know if it's the right move for a while, maybe a year or two. That's why it seems Rays-like. The team has made a move that will benefit tomorrow a lot more than today.

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I'll be honest. The first shift I see Mikhail Sergachev play will be the first. I couldn't pick him out of a lineup. I don't know how good he is. I don't know how good he'll be. I doubt the fans know, either. It's the kind of trade you have to take on faith.

But even if you believe that Sergachev is going to be a star, it's not likely to happen overnight. That means this trade isn't a right-now kind of trade, is it? For a team that's supposedly in contention for the Cup, it seems like a move for the future. I'd sure like this year's chances more with Drouin.

The thing that separates it from what the Rays normally do is that the Lightning has a big payroll. When the Rays make a trade, you always have to be concerned with the dollars involved. For the Lightning, there is a salary cap to think about.

It seems obvious to me that the Lightning can limit how badly they will be hurt by the expansion draft. The salary cap situation, however, is a real thing. This team was about to be too top-heavy in offensive forwards. Someone had to go.

Personally? I'm sorry it was Drouin.

I wrote this morning that it's like trading a known talent for an unknown one. I think between the earlier Drouin trade rumors and this trade, it's obvious that Yzerman has more doubts about Drouin than the fan base. That's why I say the key to the trade is assessing how much you trust Yzerman. In the end, it's his judge of talent that will dictate this trade.

With Doug Martin not being eligible to play the first three games of the Bucs' 2017 NFL season, who will be the "feature" running back for those games?  Will it be a single player or a committee?

Scott Myers

I'm sure the Bucs would say that it's going to be by committee, but in all practicality, I would think Jacquizz Rogers is going to be heading that committee. Sims will probably play a lot on third down, and maybe Peyton Barber will get some short yardage. How much Jeremy McNichols plays will probably depend on his preseason

Coaches always talk about committees, because that gives them the most flexibility. But Rodgers is a tough nut, and he's done it before. On second-and-four, you know what you're going to get. If he's healthy, he'll get the biggest piece of the pie.

The Bucs could use a good running attack for those games to help the play-action pass. Minnesota was 20th, Chicago was 27th and Miami was 30th in rushing defense. The Bucs would love to establish a running attack with anyone in order for a good start.

When Naimoli owned the Rays, we knew who some of the other owners were.....Sullivan, Basham, Ringhaver etc.   I have no idea who owns this team with Sternberg.

 Who are some of the partners and are any of them local?   What percentage does Sternberg actually own?
Jim Willson
As you know, I had a fondness for Vince despite his bull-in-the-china-shop style. He brought baseball here, and he loved it, and he never understood why it bothered people when he stepped on their toes (which he did).But I'd say this. There were two reasons we knew so many of Vince's partners. One, they were local and part of the effort to bring the game here. Two, there were times they were ready to revolt.
Stu is like most principal owners. You don't know their partners, because they're mostly silent and out of the way. He has five of them -- Andrew Cader, Randy W. Frankel, Timothy R. Mullen, Gary F. Goldring and Stephen M. Levick. None of them are local. But Eddie DeBartolo wasn't local when he ran the 49ers, either. I don't know exactly how the percentages are divided up. I've read that Sternberg has 48 percent.What's the old line? "Nothing is more silent than being a silent partner of George Steinbrenner?" Baseball usually works that way. You don' t hear of dissent in, say, picking the next stadium site, or whether the team spends too much or not. It's Stu's show. No one is fighting him for control.Baseball likes having one voice per team. For the fans, however, it means that no one is waiting in the wings who is willing to double the payroll.

At this point in the season there are just 3 teams that are solidly over .500 in the American League. That’s a lot of mediocrity. Is this going to be one of those years when a team can get in the playoffs playing at or near the level the Rays are now, just a few games over .500? And if that’s the case what do you expect the Rays will do at the trading deadline assuming they continue at the same pace?

Larry Beller

It could be. Right now, the Rays and Cleveland are battling it out for the final wild card slot in the American League. The National League seems to make a bit more sense.

Personally, I think that someone will get on a hot streak, and someone else's flaws will catch up to them. The wild-card race usually goes down the wire, but the teams are usually better than a game over .500.

Think about this: As lousy as the Rays were last year (68-94), they were only three games worse than they currently are. Seriously, on June 15, they were two games under .500. Injuries and tired arms are going to catch up to someone.

You know what, though. If a team makes the post-season, not many people talk about how far above .500 it was. Getting in erases a lot of flaws, as it should. And if the Rays can get to the post-season -- no matter their record -- it would be a cool thing to see. Agreed?

Noticed that Kevin Cash lauded Jacob Faria, saying something like “he really challenges the hitters” - by throwing strikes one would think. There are pitchers, and teams, that do that, and then there are pitchers and teams that believe, evidently, that the best way to get a batter out is to throw pitches that look like strikes, then break outside the strike zone, causing the batter to swing and miss – or not swing. Assuming Archer, Cobb, Odorizzi and others have pitches that move and break as much as other MLB pitchers, and as much control, why don’t they “challenge the hitters” and throw strikes? My belief is the Rays organization and Hickey don’t want them to challenge hitters, they draft, teach in the minors and preach non-contact, strikeout pitching, and that drives up pitch count, murders the bullpen and hurts the defense with slow play. Your thoughts?

Cecil DeBald

Cecil, the phrase "challenging the hitters" is a cliche. All pitchers are supposed to do it. It's like the phrase "fastball command." It's just code for not walking a lot of people and for staying ahead in the count.

That's been Faria's biggest gift. He's stayed ahead of hitters, and his stuff has been good enough to get them out. It won' t always last, but he has the potential to be pretty good.

Most pitchers try to nibble or get hitters to chase balls outside the strike zone. Greg Maddux was the king of it. He could pitch an entire game outside the strike zone. He fooled the hitters and the umpires on his way. But with the winning runs on second and third, Maddux could beat you with a belt-high fastball, too. That's challenging the hitter. You don't have to do it every pitch. Just the big ones.

I disagree with you on Hickey. He wants hitters to be challenged, but only if the pitcher has the stuff to win those challenges. That's important too. Otherwise, they hit the ball a long way (both Archer and Odorizzi give up far too many home runs).

If you're going to strike out hitters, eventually, you have to challenge them. Archer, for instance, struggles on the nights he can't get hitters to chase him outside the zone. He throws too many balls, and the hitters lay off of them. Then he has to challenge and ends up giving up a home run.

Through the years, I've noticed this about pitchers. The ones who are better at challenging hitters have great stuff.

Now, remember, we're talking about all levels of pitchers here. I think we're both more comfortable if we see David Price or Chris Archer challenge hitters than we are seeing Jeremy Hellickson or Erasmo Ramirez do it. Right?

You mentioned Bleacher Report the other day. It made me wonder: How would you rate the most popular sports sites from best to worst?

 Jim Willson

Jim, I've always been a big fan of the local newspapers. In whatever city you name, the best coverage of the local teams are by the places that pay people to cover them, to talk to the players and agents. No online site gives  you that consistently. But if I want a story on Matt Ryan, I read the Journal-Constitution website. If I want one on Dak Prescott, I read the Dallas Morning News. Period.

I like Sports Illustrated and ESPN. They create their own content, they talk to people and they break stories. It'll be interesting to see the fallout from the recent ESPN layoffs. They canned a lot of people I think highly of, as if reporting was the last thing on their list. I like NFL.com for the same reason.

Going down a peg or three, I like CBSsports.com and Foxsports.com. Maybe Sportingnews.com.

After that, I'd go with the gatherers. Thebiglead.com, Deadpan.com and Pro Football Talk.

Lastly, there are sites like Bleacher Report, TheSpun.com and Totalprosports.com, sites that fake it, who repeat stories from others and link it. I haven't seen a reporter from Bleacher Report for years. As I understand it, one of their main Bucs' reporters actually lives in Europe. How the heck can you cover a team from over there? By typing up canned quotes? I'll wager none of the readers of that site know that.

Look, I'm not a snob. PewterReport and JoeBucsfan are at Bucs' training camp every day. There are writers for team websites who are very good.

Still, access is more limited than ever, and space and deadlines are both tight. You have to read a lot of copy to get the whole picture anymore.

In evaluating a site, I imagine I'm much like you, Jim. I want a site that's going to tell me something new. I like a site where the reporters talk to the players and front office people rather than collect press conference quotes. I like a site that's funny and challenging and educational.

For the record, I like this site, too. Hope you do, too.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Larry Beller June 17, 2017 at 7:58 am

As far as the Rays making the playoffs this year that would be so special for this area and a gift for the fans who have stuck by the team through some really tough times. We all know how challenged sports team in this area are when it comes to getting to the post season. Just look at the Lightning last year.The Rays may never challenge again like they did in 2008 but getting to the playoffs is important.

I’m really interested to know how you would answer the second part of my question about what does management do at the trade deadline if the Rays are in the hunt as they are now? If they choose to be sellers then that would be telling the players and the fans they just don’t care about them or winning. Nobody gives a crap about looking towards the future when there is an opportunity to get in the playoffs now. And I’m not saying add the most expensive player out there like the Yankess or Red Sox do but just don’t take away from the team that is working their butts off to do something positive this year.

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