Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Pure Frosting


2018: There are good players on the Rays, but they're extremely under the radar, unconventional types.
2020: There's lots of great players on the Rays, and they've built an incredible team out of a lot of cool moves.
2022: There's great players on the Rays but a lot of them are traded away right before the Rays can actually pay them.
2024: There's some good players on the Rays, but you have to wade through a lot of mediocrity to get there.

Full circle. Welcome to the 2024 Rays, a team that desperately wants you to forget about the last 5 or 6 good Rays teams. Because this one's different and cheaper.

[And worse!]

There is literally only one person on the Rays right now who's doing everything he's supposed to, and it is Isaac Paredes. He's hitting .300, he's got 9 homers and 26 RBIs, he's a well rounded hitter who can succeed in many different roles for this team. That's...pretty much it. The guys who were great last year, like Yandy Diaz and Randy Arozarena, aren't great right now. Arozarena's not even hitting .200, even if his power numbers are fine. The one true ace on this team, Zach Eflin, just hit the IL and now they're left with people like Zach Littell and Tyler Alexander, both long-men who are starting due to lack of options, Aaron Civale and Taj Bradley, who just can't seem to get those ERAs down. The once strong bullpen is now a bunch of guys with a 4 ERA and a 32-year-old racist who's confused as to why nobody's happy he's doing well.

And look, there are a lot of great contact hitters on the Rays this year. Richie Palacios, Ben Rortvedt, Jose Caballero, even Harold Ramirez. But...I think about the degree of contact hitter this team used to have. Kevin Kiermaier, Austin Meadows, even peak Brandon Lowe. And these guys...aren't really there. Palacios is a handy guy to have around, he hits well, steals bases. Not exactly a very versatile, productive guy though. Same with Rortvedt. 23 hits, 8 RBIs. At least Zunino could produce. 

And so you're seeing why their year has been so even so far. They'll win some games, then somebody'll blank them, then they'll have another hot streak. Right now they're playing the Sox, who seem to have their number. There's really not much that's especially exciting about the Rays right now. Hell, even Tyler Alexander taking a no-no late wasn't very interesting. 

The thing about the AL East is that teams like this don't often see this as a hint to maybe ride it out and not compete. So the Rays might still inch themselves up and act like they're worth it this year. And something could still happen, but....unless a lot of things spring to life at once, this isn't the team at all.

Coming Tomorrow- A rookie for a team that wasn't exactly projected to be a third place team but, hey, it's an improvement. 

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