Ask Gary: Did Rays fail in replacing Cron?

by Gary Shelton on January 19, 2019 · 2 comments

in general

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

When the Rays DFA'd C.J. Cron, the justification used at the time was that they intended to pursue a veteran power bat in free agency who would be a more complete hitter. Supposedly they were going to open up the check book and pay upwards of $10 million to get him. That didn't happen and this week the Rays agreed to sign Avisail Garcia to a one-year deal for $3.5 million. Garcia is coming off knee surgery and has never hit more than 19 home runs in any year. Meanwhile the Twins claimed Cron off waivers and signed him to a $4.8 million contract. How can this be considered anything but another cost saving move by the Rays? Do you consider Garcia an upgrade or even a true power hitter?

Larry Beller

It's hard to put yourself in the role of a team when you think it's wrong. It isn't so much that the Rays dumped Cron without trading him for anything of substance, it's that they didn't replace him in free agency, either.

Let's be honest about Cron. He hit 30 home runs last year, but that was 14 more than he had hit in any season, and he drove in just 74 runs. So we aren't talking about Babe Ruth here. But Cron was the only true power the team had left. They lost the three hitters who had hit the most home runs for them.

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So I understand the eye-rolling out there. No, I wouldn't consider Garcia a true power hitter at 19 home runs. He strikes me as a last-ditch signing.

Now, I think Garcia was a good gamble to take. He's one season (and an injury, granted) from an All-Star year in which he hit .330. If he can approximate that, he can help. But he won't hit as many balls over the wall as the Rays need.

Was it just a cost-cutting move? Perhaps. And perhaps the Rays had a problem with Cron that they aren't saying. And perhaps they simply misread the market. They supposedly had interest in Josh Donaldson, but he signed for $23 million a year. In what universe were the Rays going to pay half of that? Nelson Cruz signed for $14.3 million a year. The Rays say they were competitive, but how close do you have to be to consider yourself to have been "competitive."

Look, I've been wrong in judging a lot of the Rays' deals. I didn't think that it was wise to dump Evan Longoria, Logan Morrison and Corey Dickerson last year, but it worked. Only Dickerson had a good year of the bunch. The Rays' own analytics were right about the others.

Are they right about Cron? Was he not going to get enough at-bats to justify what the team would have had to pay him? Maybe.

Yes, of the two, for this team, I'd rather have Cron. I say that even given how close the Rays' projections over last year's dumpees seemed to be.  But as Peter Marshall used to say on the Hollywood Squares, this might work out.

All of us are watching.

What are the terms of Bruce Arians' contract with the Bucs?  How many years?  How many dollars per year?  How many years guaranteed?

Scott Myers

The contracts of the NFL head coaches are a lot more difficult to find than those of players. It's hard to say why. Why is it public interest to know what Tom Brady is getting, to the penny, but not what coaches are getting.

We do know that Arians signed a four-year contract with a fifth year as an option. The first four of those, then, would be guaranteed.

Exactly what Arians is getting paid is subject to speculation. In his last year with the Cardinals, he made $5 million a year. I'd guess he's around $7 million a year, but it's only a guess. Still, the two didn't seem to negotiate for very long.

I know this. If he can turn this team around, I'll say he should get a raise.

I know the NFL is an impatient league, but it sure seems as though the Miami Dolphins gave up too quick on head coach Adam Gase. Miami finished 7-9 this season in spite of a lot of key injuries. Do you think the Dolphins will regret firing him after just three seasons?

Peter Kerasotis

It's possible, Peter. The Dolphins had a mixed bag of a season this year, starting out 3-0 (then dropping nine of their next 13). They upset the New England Patriots, then gave up 100 points in losing their next three.

It's fair to say that someone here made a mistake they'll regret -- either the Dolphins or the New York Jets, who immediately hired Gase despite the criticism of the move. The Jets fired a coach who won 10 games four years ago to hire another coach who won 10 games three years ago. In the same conference. In the same division.

I don't think this hire is likely to work out, either, even though (except for the Patriots), the division is awfully weak. It's part of the reason New England is so good; it usually gets a head start.

Speaking of Gase, did you catch his act as the Jets hired him? “I don’t have Twitter, Instagram,” Gase said. “I don’t read the Internet. I don’t watch TV. Like, all that stuff — it’s irrelevant to me. To me, it’s pollution of the brain. I really don’t care. That’s how I operate. I’m here to do one thing and that’s to help this organization win. So all that other stuff is irrelevant to me."

Well, losses are relevant, and social media and opinions are facts of life. I'd rather have a coach who deals with the reality of the moment.

Will the Dolphins regret their firing? Perhaps. The Dolphins seem to regret a lot of their decisions anymore. But I don't think Gase will own this division in New York, either.

Do you think that the Gators should put Urban Meyer in their Ring of Honor?

Jim Willson

I hate to say this. I absolutely hate it. I'm developing a nervous tic as I type it.

But yes.

And now, as I am filled with self-loathing at the prospect of a good university honoring a bad guy, I'll try to explain. The Gators have clearly written guidelines to their Ring of Honor. Meyer may be dishonorable, but he has stats worth honoring.

One of the categories is coaching the Gators to a national championship.  Meyer did it twice. It mentions coaching to an SEC title. Meyer did it twice.

It doesn't take off points for acting like the program was nobody's business. It doesn't blame a coach for the dozens of arrests that Meyer had. You don't have to be likable.

I get it. No one gets a warm and fuzzy feeling about Meyer's days at Florida. He was distant and cold and ruthless. But he won.

Yeah, he should in the Ring of Honor. Is there a place right below where the pigeons gather?

What do you think the odds are that the Rays will come close to matching last year's 90 wins?

Jim Willson

What's close? Is it two games? Five games? Ten games?

Like you, I expect the Rays to take a slight backward step this year. I'm still not sure about the power, or the closer. It would be natural if Blake Snell isn't quite as good as he was. I'm not sure Ryan Yarbrough will win nearly as many.

But Snell should still be good, even if he doesn't win as many. Willy Adames should still be good.

I do think there is some talent on this team. I think they can win 85, 86 games. Certainly, they should be above .500, don't you think.

But remember, I'm the guy who thought they'd lose 100 last year. So what do I know?

I'm ready to see this team unwrapped, though.

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