Thursday, December 22, 2022

Uncustomed Heroes of 2022: Rays


I only have 3 Rays for Uncustomed Heroes this year. 3 of them.

The way these Rays teams work, there's such a ragtag, piecemeal quality that either players are gonna stand out and have great seasons or they're gonna fade into the background and not really warrant a custom from me. One of these, the one I'm starting with, is a stretch because he was so good in one category and so terrible in others. And while there are a few players who had great seasons for the Rays that I haven't customized yet, a lot of them are ones that picketed the team's pride month patches, and I'm not gonna glorify any of them with a custom. So Jeffrey Springs, Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks and Ryan Thompson won't be showing up here.

Anyway, the Rays had another weird season, failed when a lot of their best players got injured, and got taken out in the playoffs by Cleveland. Big whoop. I'm really sick of these Rays teams just getting to the end with like 20 players I've never heard of because they refuse to actually pay the people that succeed for them. Already, we know that Ji-Man Choi, Ralph Garza, Kevin Kiermaier, J.T. Chargois, J.P. Feyereisen and Mike Zunino won't be back. That's...a lot of players that the Rays didn't even try to keep around.

But they did keep Taylor Walls. Taylor Walls...look, I understand that defense is important. I understand that Walls may be one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. But...folks, doing just one thing really really well, except if you're Mariano Rivera or Phil Niekro, isn't always gonna do it for me. Walls can play amazing defense, yes, but he cannot hit. Walls hit .172 this year, with 120 strikeouts and only 70 hits. He struck out a little under half as many times as he got a hit. I get that Wander Franco was out and Walls was a great choice to cover, but Walls also appeared in the second-most amount of games, and had the third-most at-bats, of this team. No wonder they lost so early in the playoffs! If you are essentially ensuring that one lineup spot is gonna go to a guy who cannot hit, you're asking for it.
2023 Prediction: Please tell me he just has a backup/def. replacement season. Let Wander have short, please. You signed him for a billion years as a result of a half-year, and that's money the Rays won't give to anyone else on the team. Just...stop this foolishness at once.

The Rays' big deadline move was trading David Peralta away from his beloved Diamondbacks as an outfield addition to Tampa. Peralta, in 47 games, hit .255 with 18 RBIs and zero of the home runs he hit 30 of during his prime. He only had one at-bat in the wild card series, and it was a strikeout. Taylor Walls had 5 postseason at-bats, he struck out twice. I...I think I hate the Rays.
2023 Prediction: I think Peralta's prime is over, and everyone else seems to know this as well. I don't think anybody big will sign him, maybe a middle-rung competitor. Maybe the Rangers, honestly.

The deal that raised my eyebrows the most was the Rays trading for Jose Siri in the Trey Mancini deal. Jose Siri had been doing well in Houston, but it was getting crowded and he was getting overshadowed. I thought Tampa would be the perfect market for him. In 56 games he hit .241 with 14 RBIs, 4 homers and 8 steals. However, Siri has been heating up in the winter leagues, and hit .315 with 6 RBIs in 21 games for the Gigantes this year. I think he's gearing up for a big year in the majors.
2023 Prediction: Siri will be the Randy Arozarena, 'holy shit how did the Rays get this guy' kind of breakout next year. He might even have some decent postseason numbers to sadden me with.

Tomorrow, a mercifully pathetic Red Sox team.

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