Once the World Series ends we will begin examining the Rays viable options to start building their 2011 lineup. This blogger is very fearful of the Rays being screwed over especially with the three stooges: owner Stuart Sternberg, GM Andrew Friedman, and manager Joe Maddon at the helm of this disastrous expedition. Some fans argue have faith and believe in the team that has produced success these past three years, which I would be more inclined to do if the organization was not facing severely reduced payroll cuts next season that will most likely send the key players who made this success happen out the door. As we wait and see what happens to Carl Crawford, Carlos Peña, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Rafael Soriano and the horsemen of the apocalypse in the bull pen that is Lance Cormier, Chad Qualls, Randy Choate and Dan Wheeler, it is a nice opportunity to look at available infielders, outfielders, catchers, and pitchers. With the pain of elimination starting to heal let us indulge in any potential delusions and fantasy lineups before the stooges bring us back to reality with whatever D-Squad they assemble with a $50 million payroll. As the photo above suggests the future is in their hands.
However, with all the pessimism and doomsday scenarios I deal out it is easy to get immersed in negativity and doubt. However, I’m only being realistic, but at the same time I must remind everyone not to forget that at the heart of it all we Rays fans are simply people. People have an extreme fear of the unknown and with the payroll shrinking, key players become free agents, and an organization that still has so many other issues such as finding a new stadium, low attendance, and marketing location to deal with it is difficult to accept the possible reality of the team regressing back to obscurity. We are not now nor ever were the Red Sox or the Yankees and nor do we strive to be. We don’t have a long legacy or fat bank accounts, but the reason why people love this team and buy into them is simply because they are not that. In fact, they’re the exact opposite of those teams. They represent all underdogs, small markets, and unsung heroes. They live within their own realistic means as most of us do. We know as well as they do that you cannot magically become the best over night. We understand that quality play and hard work is what allows such an under powered team to compete among the elite. All of us strive to do the best we can with whatever we have so as we did when they were the Devil Rays we will keep moving forward and stay positive as we usher in the next Tampa Bay Rays era. But no matter how much criticism, pettiness, anger, hostility or disgust is written and thrown around on this site I take comfort knowing that for better and most of the time for worse the Rays will always be our team. GO RAYS!