Ask Gary: Should Winston’s flaws concerned us?

by Gary Shelton on August 12, 2017 · 4 comments

in general

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

The first installment of Hard Knocks was very entertaining and with you and Rick Stroud making appearances it’s sure to be a blockbuster. Jameis Winston was the star as expected. But the flaws in his game were exposed with a number of interceptions and poor decisions. Obviously It’s only practice, but are you concerned at all about that? It seems like the coach may be.

Larry Beller

Sure. Down deep, everyone is concerned about Winston's turnovers. The guy needs to be more accurate. And, I suspect that with his new weapons getting more separation, he will be. But a coach's job is to address shortcomings. That's what coaching is.

Remember, Larry, the only thing different about this is that you have the access to see it. it isn't the

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first time Koetter has fussed at Winston about messing up, and it won't be the last. Winston is 23, and there has never been a 23-year-old who didn't need coaching.

Like it or not, however, all the Bucs can do is to try to make Winston get it. They aren't going to start his backup. They aren't going to bring in another quarterback. It's Winston's show. After more than 8,000 yards in two seasons, he's earned that.

In the meantime, you don't want a coach who doesn't challenge him to be better. That's Koetter's job, whether he has a tackle who can't stop holding or a back who fumbles too much.Everything isn't smooth sailing all of the time.

Koetter's admiration for his quarterback is obvious. He really, really likes the kid. But you don't just point him toward a huddle and let him go.

Do we really need Sports Illustrated getting involved in the level of food service being provided in the country's stadiums? Isn't there enough other topics to discuss? I feel the Rays are getting a bad rap. But then again, I bring my own food to Rays games because I'm cheap. Maybe SI is providing a great public service. Your thoughts.

Rick Martin

I have to be honest, Rick. I read every word of that story twice. I thought it was a great service, especially considering the prices they charge. You can at least believe your food was cooking on an insect-free grill. To me, it's the same thing as health inspectors. They're doing the customer a service.

I'll agree with you that SI isn't nearly the publication it once was. It used to have three or four articles per issue you would have died to have written. Now, three or four weeks go by between great pieces.

But bad food is never acceptable. In the old days when Vince Naimoli used to run the Rays, I had a sister-in-law who worked in a concession stand at the Trop. She used to tell me to never, ever eat the hot dogs before the fourth inning, because the odds were that they were last night's hot dogs.

As far as a bad rap, I don't know how the story was put together. Did SI have inspectors go into each kitchen of every park? Did they have universal access, or were some teams more protective than others? Did they look closer in, say, St. Petersburg than they did in Arizona? I have a lot of questions, but this is clear: It isn't good.

I've been known to bring food, too, but it's mostly for convenience. I do know this: I would be more wary if I wanted a hamburger today than I would have been before this article.

If the Trop gets its house in order, if it insists that the grills are pristine and the cooks are careful, this can be the ultimate in public service. No one wants to be embarrassed. And this was embarrassing.

One question, though. They served fried grasshoppers in Seattle. Wouldn't they have insects on that grill?

Name the five most underrated and overrated coaches in the NFL. Then do the same for college.

Jim Willson

Tough question , Jim. Overrated has always been a tough question for me, because you first have to determine where they're ranked. For instance, a first-year coach at a school that has never won isn't on my list. But I'll give it a shot. Okay?

I'll start with college. Did you see that, this week, ESPN compiled a list of most overrated and underrated coaches. Jim Harbaugh topped the overrated list, which stunned me. I know Harbaugh turns a lot of people off because his program is so hyped, but the games he's lost have been close, and he hasn't been there long enough to take full benefit of his recruits. I wouldn't call him overrated.

But the second coach on the list was Nick Saban, which is silly. He's won four national titles. Unless you think he should be perfect, how is he overrated? People talk about all his advantages, but didn't Mike Shula coach at the same school?

I'd put these guys on my overrated list: Brian Kelly of Notre Dame, Jim Mora of UCLA,  Will Muschamp of South Carolina, Clay Helton of Southern Cal and Barry Odom of Missouri.

Underrated coaches? I'll go with Kirk Ferenz of Iowa, Tom Herman of Texas, David Shaw of Stanford, Dabo Swinney of Clemson and  Chris Peterson at Washington.

The NFL is hard because guys like Jerry Glanville, Mike Martz and Jeff Fisher aren't around anymore.  There is so much turnover, 7-8 coaches a year. But I'll list my top five overrated as Todd Bowles of the Jets, Bill O'Brien of the Texans, Marvin Lewis of the Bengals, Chuck Pagano of the Colts and Jack Del Rio of the Raiders.

Underrated? Let's go with Jim Caldwell of the Lions, Mike Zimmer of the Vikings, Andy Reid of the Chiefs, Bruce Arians of the Cardinals and John Harbaugh of the Ravens.

That's off the top of my head. But coaches rise and fall with their quarterbacks and their defenses.  I like Mike Tomlin. I like Ron Rivera. Mike McCarthy is catching heat, but that's because he hasn't won a Super Bowl in a while.

My gloomy crystal ball tells me that the "home run or no run" Rays will not be playing past Oct. 1. Now that Alex Cobb has made his annual trip to the disabled list, could his stock be dropping enough for the Rays to afford and keep him next year?

Sarcasm of the day:  Could Derek Shelton be available to bring back next year?
Barry McDowell
I think that's a great idea. That way, fans would have someone to blame this slump on!
You know me. I've always dismissed the criticism of a hitting coach. He doesn't teach people to hit, guys. That doesn't happen anywhere. Teams that hit pay to have good hitters. Teams that don't have lousy hitters. I use the analogy all the time. It's like a quarterback coach. The greatest coach in the world isn't going to turn Blake Bortles into Tom Brady.
But let's bring Derek back and put him in the dunk tank. We can dress him as Raymond and make fun of him.
As far as Cobb, there is always someone willing to pay a pitcher. I think Cobb will attract a lot of attention with teams thinking that his arm will be healthier. I don't think he's the bargain you need him to be.

The eight ex-Rays shown in this chart are being paid a combined $141 million for the 2017 season.  The Tampa Bay Rays total 2017 payroll is $93 million.  Note that none of the eight players on the list are having a stellar season, and 3 of them have not played at all this season.  Their combined contract value is $744 million, more than enough to build quite a nice stadium.  Why should taxpayers fork over a dime to pay for MLB stadia when the owners are so incompetent in negotiating player contracts?  And, on a side note, it looks like the Rays no when to cut bait.

NAME 2017 salary TOTAL VALUE TEAM YEARS age - end of 2017 season age - end of contract wins losses games games started innings pitched Earned Runs ERA    
through 8/10/2017                              
james shields $21,000,000 $75,000,000  chw 4 35 37 2 4 12 12 56.67 39 6.19    
matt garza $12,500,000 $50,000,000  mil 4 33 33 5 6 17 17 91.33 44 4.34    
scott kazmir (dl) $17,666,666 $48,000,000  lad 3 33 34 0 0 0 0 0.00 0 0.00    
david price (dl) $30,000,000 $217,000,000  bos 7 32 37 5 3 11 11 66.00 28 3.82  
                               
              G HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
carl crawford (released) $21,857,000 $142,000,000  lad 6 34 34 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000
ben zobrist $16,500,000 $56,000,000  chc 4 36 38 83 8 32 37 45 0.225 0.316 0.363 0.679
wil myers $4,500,000 $83,000,000  sdp 6 26 31 109 23 56 48 138 0.240 0.322 0.464 0.786
melvin upton (released) $17,050,000 $72,850,000 tor 5 32 32 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000
totals $141,073,666  $743,850,000                          
average $17,634,208 $92,981,250

Scott Myers

Scott,

That's a magnificent chart, and you're right, it shows a lot of waste. But to a major league owner, it isn't likely to cause so much shame that the teams aren't going to want new stadiums, and they aren't going to want to pay for them. I'd wager that most owners would say these kinds of contracts are the reason they need bigger stadiums, so they can absorb bad contracts.

They're rich men, and rich men never spend a dime without talking to Roosevelt.

Obviously, none of this counts against the Rays in their quest for a new stadium. They aren't spending the same money. It would be like saying they can afford that new house because they didn't buy the new car. But money that isn't spent isn't necessarily saved.

Scott, we've had enough conversations about stadiums for me to know that you oppose public money spent on them. I respect that. My own viewpoint is that a community should be able to vote on whether the game is that important to them. Maybe it shouldn't be. But if baseball leaves a small market, odds are it isn't coming back.

Are these contracts worth it? Not to me. I remember what Bill Veeck said. You can't overpay a true star, but you can go broke paying ordinary players extraordinary salaries. Is the game worth it? I don't think anyone in New York went broke paying for Yankee Stadium. So in some places, it probably is.

But you and I could have told the world that Melvin Upton wasn't going to be worth his money. That would kill me if I was a baseball owner. There are too many terrible contracts. There are a lot more than we can list here

 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller August 12, 2017 at 9:42 am

Oh I’m completely realistic Gary. I’m trying not to be so negative and say I don’t think we will get a new stadium in this area but to me all signs point to that. We have the lowest per capita income of any MLB franchise so it’s no wonder the attendance is the lowest. Moving to Tampa will not solve that. Moving out of the area will. The Marlins got money from the legislature for their stadium and the owner turned that into profits for himself when he sold the team. For that reason I don’t see the Rays getting money to fund a stadium from that source. Losing the Rays will make the summers seem longer and hotter so let’s hope there is a miracle solution out there that I’m not smart enough to figure out.

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Gary Shelton August 12, 2017 at 2:40 pm

I’m not sure any of us smart enough.

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Larry Beller August 12, 2017 at 5:10 am

TV money fuels these ridicules salaries. The Rays can’t afford to pay them nor should they pay big money for players who don’t perform. They say they can’t afford even the middle of the road salaries for non-stars so we get the likes of the hand me downs who ride the bench and rookies who fill out the bullpen for the Rays today. The cost of stadiums is skyrocketing too so where does that leave the Rays in their stadium quest? In a really bad spot I believe. I did some research on the Atlanta stadium funding and discovered both the county and the team put up a lot of money to build it. I doubt if either will happen here. I know this. Of all the 20+ stadiums around MLB that I’ve seen, the Trop is by far the worst. We also have the worst attendance. Something has got to change.

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Gary Shelton August 12, 2017 at 8:21 am

I suspect the Rays are like most teams. They’ll want the most help they can get. It’s always been odd to me that people fear them going to Montreal more than they fear them going to Tampa, it seems.

I think everyone would like for some things to change, Larry. But here’s something else I think. Tampa isn’t the cure that would put this team into the high-spending bracket. I suspect Tampa would help some (5,000 a night, maybe) but there aren’t so many die-hard fans who love baseball, yet just won’t drive across a bridge. It isn’t a cure-all. I love baseball, but let’s be realistic.

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