Could the Rays be the worst team in baseball?

by Gary Shelton on June 27, 2016 · 1 comment

in Baseball, general, Tampa Bay Rays

Longoria has played at an all-star level. Not many have./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Longoria has played at an all-star level. Not many have./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Monday, 6 a.m.

Cincinnati, they can catch. Maybe by the weekend.

Atlanta may take a while, however. Maybe by the All-Star Break.

Minnesota seems safe for the moment. It'll take some doing in the stretch run to get the Twins.

But if you're asking if the Tampa Bay Rays are the worst team in baseball, well, they're in the race. If anyone is worse, their infielders are probably turned the wrong direction.

The Rays are a dismal team, slow and clumsy and awkward and hurt. They are not particularly fast, and they are not remotely dominating. They give up runs like a slow-pitch team, and they score like a soccer team. Every game is as if they wait for something big to fall on them.

You keep waiting for Hal McRae to come out of the dugout. Maybe Larry Rothschild. They have returned to being the eyesores they used to be.

And when does it ever stop?

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They have lost 11 straight games now.

They are 13 ½ games behind in the standings.

In their 11 losses, they've given up 72 runs.

Kevin Cash has run into problems in his second season.

Kevin Cash has run into problems in his second season.

They have homesteaded on fifth place. The Rays once lost 15 in a row. You look at this team, and you think, yeah, this team is capable of that.

As ever, the story with the Rays is this: there is nothing to see, and not many fans are showing up to see it.

Only three teams have won fewer times than the Rays. The Reds are three wins behind. The Braves are six. The Twins are eight. How long before this Rays team catches them all.

We have seen ugly, the Hit Show and Dewan Brazelton and Rich Butler and Kevin Stocker and Paul Sorrento. And this team looks as bad as any of them. This is as bad as Brian Rekar, who once wrote his post-game explanations on a sheet of paper and left them hanging on his locker. This is as bad as Wilson Alvarez. This is as bad as Pat Burrell. This is almost as bad as Vinny Castillo, but not quite.

Archer leads in the major leagues in most defeats with 10./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Archer leads in the major leagues in most defeats with 10.

And furthermore, ouch.If things don't get better, they could be among the worst teams of the last decade.

How bad are the Rays?

They are 28th of 30 teams in batting average. Yes, the Rays hit home runs (fourth), but they don't hit a lot else. They are 28th in hits. They are 25th in RBI.

Their on-base percentage is 25th. They are 25th in strikeouts. They are 23rd in stolen bases.

They are last in sacrifice flies. They are 25th in sacrifice hits. They are 24th in  steals.

They are 23rd in quality starts. They are 17th in batting average against. They are tied for second in home runs allowed.

They are 24th in stolen bases allowed. They are 21st in fielding percentage.

Chris Archer leads the big leagues  in losses. Corey Dickerson is third in worst average. Steven Souza is 10th in most strikeouts. There are holes.

There are so many ways to measure disappointment in baseball. Except for home runs, the Rays seem lousy at most aspects of the game.

So where are these Rays supposed to beat you? Yes, they are beaten up in the outfield. But ask yourself this: Even if they weren't, can you imagine this team being above .500. And if you can, are their unicorns in the outfield?

With a team that made four playoffs in six years, how did it get this bad this fast? Well, start with some embarrassing drafts. Add some mind-numbing trades. A reader here, Scott Myers, sent me an e-mail the other day listing what former Rays had done the previous night. Sure enough, there were Will Myers and Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce and James Loney and Sean Rodriguez. No, it wasn't scientific, but that day, the castoffs had 19 hits and 20 RBI. Looking back, you can certainly question the dumping of Myers, Zobrist and James Loney.

Bigger question: How does a team get out of this quicksand? Do you trade your way out? That's probably not going to happen. The teams who are willing to trade away quality help probably aren't doing well, either. Do you promote enough kids from the minors? Personally, I'm ready to see one of the young shortstops, but it isn't as if the Rays are just jammed with players ready to play major league baseball.

Was it all a fluke? Did the Rays take advantage of years of high drafts, coupled with a few smart moves by Andrew Friedman, to enjoy their run?

Can it happen again? I've said it before. As tough as Friedman's job was at creating success, I think Matt Silverman may have a tougher challenge recreating it without as many minor league assets.

Once they get a new stadium, however, I am certain the Rays will be much, much better. Won't they?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Howard Powders June 27, 2016 at 10:09 am

Memorize that photo of Kevin Cash. You may not be seeing him next year. The guy is too laid back. Where’s the passion? Chris Davis did not check his swing on what should have been strike three with the bases loaded, no outs. It was called a ball. Where was Cash? He should have been out there SCREAMING!!!Then on the next pitch, the dude hits a grand slammer!

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