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ESPN Chat with BA's Callis


jamesenoch

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I enjoy reading your posts, but I feel that you are shortchanging the Rays a little bit.

- You mentioned that their starters were healthy this year. This is true. However, they will have incredible depth of quality starting pitchers when/if pitchers get hurt next year and beyond. No other team can rival the depth of quality starting pitchers that TB will have.

- TB did deal with some adversity this year. Between getting hurt and not being on the opening day roster, Longoria missed 40 games. Crawford missed 50+ games. Upton played through a shoulder injury. That's the equivalent of if Wieters, Markakis and Jones for the Orioles. Bartlett missed significant time. Even Pena missed a couple of playoff games.

- Most of their core players like Upton and Longoria are still on an upwards career arc.

Granted, the AL east is a tough division and repeating is never easy, but TB is set up really well in my opinion.

I agree with most of what you wrote, but TAM was much more fortunate with Longoria than they were unlucky. They got the best production they could have hoped for, save for the WS.

I could ramble on, but it's opinion and it doesn't matter. I worry that people are called nay-sayers if they don't buy into a TAM dynasty. Sometimes it isn't doubting, it's prudence.

Good posts from you and Hoosiers. I don't think anyone would disagree that TAM has built a nice core of players.

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I agree with Stotle. Almost every year there is a team that looks like it is well set-up for the next five years, that somehow doesn't live up to expectations. The '05 White Sox and '06 Tigers, for example. I do happen to think Tampa is better positioned than either of those teams, but nobody is as invincible as they look.

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Tampa is in a position to deal Crawford and Kazmir in the next few years and really load up on prospects if they are wanting to keep payroll low. Kazmir easily nets a Bedard type deal and Crawford gets better than we got for Tejada. I think they are in great shape for quite awhile.

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I disagree with this as well.

Tampa should be the prohibitive favorite. They have many young players on the upswing.

They did deal with adversity - missing playing time from Crawford, Longoria and Kazmir. A healthy Baldelli would also be a significant boost - as he missed a large part of the 08 season.

Tampa's attendance should continue to increase - meaning more $ for payroll.

Tampa's minor league system still has a tremendous amount of talent.

And Tampa may become a preferred destination for free agents if they delve into that market - if a FA wants to play for a winner over the next few years, that FA might go to TB instead of another market. This is unlikely to happen with big $ FAs as TB is not likely to bid, but FA relievers or guys coming back from injury might go to TB.

I've been predicting about how good the Rays would be here for over two years. After seeing so many comments for so long about why TB would really not be that good, it is not surprising to still see comments not buying into this new reality. It's real, though, and barring an unusual number of injuries, TB's immediate future looks better than any team's in baseball, IMO, on paper - including the BoSox - and I do not believe this offseason's FA class or other moves will enable larger market teams to fully close that gap.

The Rays have 2 issues that no one has talked about :

01) Living in that area for 4 years, I can tell you that Tampa and the surrounding areas are filled with Yankee fans and Philly fans, transplants from the North East. The Yankees minor league complex is across the street from Raymond James Stadium, in Tampa, and the Phillies have a complex 10 minutes away in Clearwater . They will have their share of fairweather fans, but I really think they are going to struggle attracting these other team's fans.

02) Their stadium is awful. I mean real bad. I mean toilet bowl bad. I can go on, but I think you get the gist. Maybe I got spoiled by Camden Yards, but whenever I went to a game there, I would just shake my head. Heck, I am not even sure if that stadium can hold 40k. Does anyone know?

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I've been to the Trop, and while I can understand some of the hatred for the place, I can't say that it would keep me from going to watch an exciting Rays team if I lived down there.

Quite the contrary: I'd have season tickets, and would go to the games. In the end--as Orioles attendance is showing, more graphically every year--a crap team in a beautiful stadium will only draw so many fans. I'm betting a red hot team in a crap stadium will draw more.

The Rays are still in much better shape stadium-wise, than the Marlins are. At this point, I'd look at turning a negative into a positive, and play up the whole "Thunderdome" aspect of the Trop.

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Were people saying a year ago that Colorado and Arizona would dominant for years.

Arizona has a lot of young talent but I'm not sure the Rockies met that same profile. But I don't think either organization has the amount of young talent already at the MLB level to go along with a farm system that is loaded.

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Like night follows day, Tampa's attendance is going to go up significantly in 2009. That almost always happens the year after a team that has been bad wins the pennant, and it won't matter that some fans in the area also have allegiances to other teams. For example, the Marlins had a 400,000 fan increase in 2004, the year after they won the World Series (and they already had a 500,000 fan increase in their Series-winning year).

Of course, the Marlins have fluctuated between very good and horrible. If the Rays can sustain being good for a 5-year period, they will develop a loyal fan base that the Marlins have never been able to develop, and attendance will steadily go up. They aren't going to be a wealthy team, but they are going to be in a much better position.

I'd look for the Rays to draw at least 2.2 mm fans next year, maybe more. They will almost certainly outdraw the Orioles unless the O's are vastly better and find themselves in the pennant race.

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Like night follows day, Tampa's attendance is going to go up significantly in 2009. That almost always happens the year after a team that has been bad wins the pennant, and it won't matter that some fans in the area also have allegiances to other teams. For example, the Marlins had a 400,000 fan increase in 2004, the year after they won the World Series (and they already had a 500,000 fan increase in their Series-winning year).

Of course, the Marlins have fluctuated between very good and horrible. If the Rays can sustain being good for a 5-year period, they will develop a loyal fan base that the Marlins have never been able to develop, and attendance will steadily go up. They aren't going to be a wealthy team, but they are going to be in a much better position.

I'd look for the Rays to draw at least 2.2 mm fans next year, maybe more. They will almost certainly outdraw the Orioles unless the O's are vastly better and find themselves in the pennant race.

There is a huge difference (at least I think there will be) between FL and TB... I don't see TB pulling a Marlinesque dismantling of the team that wins almost immediately after winning. Marlins fans felt betrayed by two of the worst owners in MLB history. Even if TB has an off year next year I think they will continue to be a fun team to root for and the attendance bump is going to be a sustainable one.

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I'm not down on Tampa at all. I think they are set up really well, and as I said I really like what they have done.

I simply don't see how Boston isn't the clear prohibitive favorite in all of baseball. They draft better than anyone. They develop talent as well as anyone else, they don't handcuff themselves with sentimentality or "organizational favorites" and the are willing to spend money. As great as TAM has been in building a winner, BOS still does pretty much everything better.

This isn't a knock on TAM, but they are still second fiddle from an organizational standpoint, and a couple injuries could cripple them, while a team like BOS would have multiple avenues to solve the same problem.

It isn't hard to say "Yay Tampa, they rock!" They have young, talented, exciting players. Scouting services have been sounding the TAM horn for going on five years, so the surprise is that it happened this year (and let's all please be honest in admitting that absolutely everything went right for TAM have the season they did).

Staying power, however, requires consistent excellence. I don't give out that rep lightly, and I think to do so cheapens the accomplishments of organizations like BOS or ATL who actually have shown they not only know how to play the game, but they are exceptional at it. I'll let ESPN tout TAM as the second coming; personally, I think an organization has to do it for a while before they are handed the title of "premium organization".

How many were touting 'Zona and Colorado last year? Don't be shy...

- I agree that Boston is still well positioned, both for next year and in the longer run. Is Boston a clear prohibitive favorite? I'm not sure if I'd go that far, but I would say that TB has a very good chance of taking on Boston next year as well.

- Can't speak for others, but I know I wasn't touting Zona and Colorado last year. Not to get into a long discussion, but those two teams have a few nice pieces, but not the sheer number of pieces that TB alrady has and still has coming up through the minors. Also, TB did it in the AL East rather than the NL West.

I just don't agree, which is obviously fine. And TAM's adversity was really not much. Come now. ;) Look at the team BOS had to bring into the ALCS and look at TAM. They even have Baldelli healthy for the first time since, well, ever! BJ Upton regained strength in his shoulder just in time for the playoffs. Where would they have been if that power hadn't returned? What if Kazmir was at 70% instead of Beckett? What if Garza was Mr. Hyde instead of Dr. Jekyl (it happened a lot during the regular season). Things went right for TAM. There is no shame in that, but let's call a spade a spade.

- I wouldn't say that they had Baldelli healthy. They had Baldelli available to play sporadically. The guy had 23 plate appearances over 15 postseason games.

- I also would like to add that I'm not subscribing to TB's future success because they beat Boston in the playoffs. Anything can happen in a best of 7 series between two quality teams. I am basing it upon them winning 97 games during the regular season. I have no idea what would happen to TB in the playoffs next year if they qualify. But I do think that TB is well set to compete with Bos and NY next year and compete for the division title and wildcard.

- With regards to health, I would also add that younger players tend to get hurt less often and recover faster. Obviously, TB is a young team for the most part.

- I would also agree that TB was fortunate with their pitching rotation this year. But as currently configured, they had 5 quality starters this year. Next year, they will have Price ready from day 1. And if any of those 6 get hurt or are ineffective, they still have 2-3 quality prospects in the upper minors that they can call up to fill the breach. Pitching injuries can affect any team, but I don't think that any other mlb team has the pitching depth that the Rays will have.

- The one caveat about their pitching is that I'm not sure if they have a true stud at the top of the rotation. (As talented as Price is, it would be foolish to say that at this junction of his career.) When teams have someone like Beckett in years past (not this year's injured version obviously) or Hamels this year, it's a big advantage in the playoffs. But it shouldn't hurt them during the regular season as much.

I agree with most of what you wrote, but TAM was much more fortunate with Longoria than they were unlucky. They got the best production they could have hoped for, save for the WS.

I could ramble on, but it's opinion and it doesn't matter. I worry that people are called nay-sayers if they don't buy into a TAM dynasty. Sometimes it isn't doubting, it's prudence.

- Longoria doesn't have much of a track record, but having watched him quite a few times this season, I tend to think that he will be a future star for the foreseeable future. Of course, time will tell. And he only played in 122 games this year, partly due to being left off the opening day roster this year. Next season, he'll obviously be there from day 1.

- I have the opposite view regarding the naysayers ,as you called them. To me, it seems like many posters here on OH have been continually doubting the Rays upcoming talent for the past several years. When some posters would say that they would trade the Orioles player personnel (both major and minor league) for the Rays, many scoffed at that. Now to be honest, I didn't peg them to win the division at the beginning of the year, but I thought that their time was coming in the near future.

I agree with Stotle. Almost every year there is a team that looks like it is well set-up for the next five years, that somehow doesn't live up to expectations. The '05 White Sox and '06 Tigers, for example. I do happen to think Tampa is better positioned than either of those teams, but nobody is as invincible as they look.

Again, I can't speak for others. But personally, I didn't think that those two teams were set up as nicely as the Rays are. I can't quibble with the rest of yor post. Nobody is as invincible as they look and TB is set up better than those two other teams were.

Were people saying a year ago that Colorado and Arizona would dominant for years.

Were many posters here saying that Colorado and Arizona would dominate for years? I don't remember that. Not saying that you are wrong, I just don't remember that.

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Originally Posted by Frobby

I agree with Stotle. Almost every year there is a team that looks like it is well set-up for the next five years, that somehow doesn't live up to expectations. The '05 White Sox and '06 Tigers, for example. I do happen to think Tampa is better positioned than either of those teams, but nobody is as invincible as they look.

Originally posted by oriole_way

Again, I can't speak for others. But personally, I didn't think that those two teams were set up as nicely as the Rays are. I can't quibble with the rest of yor post. Nobody is as invincible as they look and TB is set up better than those two other teams were.

Quote:

Originally Posted by wildcard

Were people saying a year ago that Colorado and Arizona would dominant for years.

Originally posted by oriole_way

Were many posters here saying that Colorado and Arizona would dominate for years? I don't remember that. Not saying that you are wrong, I just don't remember that.

I think we are basically in agreement. Tampa appears to be set up for sustained success better than Detroit, Chicago, Arizona or Colorado were. But certainly Detroit appeared to be in great shape pitching-wise after their 2006 run, with Verlander, Bonderman and Robertson in the rotation and Zumaya in the pen, and a lot of talent in the farm system. Now here it is two years later, and only Verlander is productive, and even he is not as dominant as expected.

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I think we are basically in agreement. Tampa appears to be set up for sustained success better than Detroit, Chicago, Arizona or Colorado were. But certainly Detroit appeared to be in great shape pitching-wise after their 2006 run, with Verlander, Bonderman and Robertson in the rotation and Zumaya in the pen, and a lot of talent in the farm system. Now here it is two years later, and only Verlander is productive, and even he is not as dominant as expected.

I pretty much agree. Detroit did look pretty good then and maybe this is all in hindsight but where Detroit was relying on two young pitching stars and mature hitters, Tampa seems to have 4 top young starters (Kaz, Shields, Price, and Garza) and a much younger core of hitters some of whom should just get better (Longoria, Upton). Perpahs more important, while I recall Detroit's minor league system as fairly dry at the time, TB's system looks loaded with prospects like Brigniac, Beckham, McGeee, Davis, and Hellickson on the way.

In the end, it doesn't matter too much. We can't control what they have or what they do. We just need to get better and play good ball.

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