Rays have flashed their brain power so far

by Gary Shelton on May 10, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

The trade of Archer for Meadows and Glasnow has worked out./CHUCK MULLER

Friday, 4 a.m.

Once again, they seem to be getting smarter.

Once again, they are deep thinkers.

In the good years of the Tampa Bay Rays, and there really haven't been a lot of them, this was the ability that set them apart from richer, deeper baseball teams. Even if they didn't outhit many teams, they could outwit them. They thought outside the box, and they drew outside the lines, and they won despite all logic.

And then, all of those brain waves disappeared. They started drafting the likes of LeVon Washington and Jake Hager, Josh Sale and Richie Shaffer. They signed Pat Burrell. They started to sink in the standings as they failed basic mathematics.

Ah, but these days, the Rays are again golden. They have come up with the closer, and they have made it work. And they have known which players to keep and which ones to cut.

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Hey, give them a little credit, okay?

Remember all the furor when the Rays traded Mallex Smith for Mike Zunino? For all intents, the Rays had given away a commodity, a young hitter who brought energy to the top of the lineup. Yes, it appeared the Rays were selling high, but still, Smith seemed to bring something to the table, hitting .296 for the Rays.

This year, however, Smith has struggled. He was sent down at the end of April hitting just .165. It's hard to project a lot of at bats for him in an outfield of Tommy Pham, Kevin Kiermaier and Austin Meadows (although Meadows has been injured).

Remember the trade of Chris Archer? Archer was a below .500 pitcher skating on a nice array of pitches while he was here, but the Rays coaxed Tyler Glasnow and Meadows in a trade for him. Today, it would be difficult to justify trading Archer for either of them. He's 1-2 with the Pirates with a 4.33 ERA and currently on the injured list.

There was C.J. Cron, who had 30 home runs last year. The Rays brought back hardly any power this year (both Brandon Lowe and Yandy Diaz have out-homered Cron). Cron still has seven homers, so he might end up okay in the power department. But he's hitting 19 points less and his slugging percentage is 35 points less.

Remember Adeiny  Hechevarria, the smooth-fielding shortstop. He's lost 76 points off his batting average and has only 11 at bats. Wilson Ramos has lost 70 points. Alex Colome had 47 saves two years ago. He has seven this season.

Want to take it back a year? Logan Morrison, the power here before Cron, is in the  minor leagues with the Yankees. Evan Longoria, the captain, has hit .244 and (this year) .235 since leaving the Rays. Corey Dickerson, who hit .300 last year for the Pirates, is hitting only .154 with just 13 at bats and is injured.

Remember this. Every fan gets frustrated with his team's play, with its offense, with its defense, with its base-running, with its pitching. But the Rays have been a tad smarter -- and maybe a lot luckier -- than a lot of teams.

Yeah, it's early. Some seasons will turn around. Some will not.

But give the Rays this: They aren't stupid. They don't have money, and they don't draw fans, and they have to scratch and claw to win games.

Still, if this keeps up, this team might just think its way into the post-season.

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