The ESPN MLB Insider writers released an Future Power Rankings for all 30 MLB teams in an Insider-only piece. Buster Olney, Jim Bowden, and Keith Law gave the Rays a 61.5 out of 100, good for 8th in baseball but just 4th in the American League East. Most of the Rays’ low ranking centered on the Rays’ lack of payroll as one of the 5 criteria for the ranking was “Finance,” which the Rays happen to be great at (Stuart Sternberg, Matthew Silverman, Andrew Friedman, and a lot of other Rays executives worked on Wall Street prior to the time with the Rays), but don’t have a lot of. The Rays did rank 3rd in baseball in the FPR last season, so why did they fall off so much? Terrible MLB performance? I don’t think so. Prospect collapses? A little bit but nothing much. Less money? The Rays spent a little more this season. I don’t entirely get it. Here’s what the ESPN MLB staff had to say in the previous FPR.
If there’s one team that proves you don’t need a lot of money or a fancy stadium to win, it’s the Rays. They have managed to draft better than any other team in recent years, finding stars in the first round (David Price, Evan Longoria) and after the third round (Jeremy Hellickson, James Shields, Matt Moore). On the field, they are led by Joe Maddon, who many believe is the best skipper in the game today.
Price, Longoria and Moore are all under team control at least through 2015, and after hoarding 12 of the first 89 picks in June’s draft, the Rays are in good position to keep the pipeline flush with prospects for years to come. With that kind of model, who needs free agents? — Buster Olney
The next step
Although its starting rotation is deep, Tampa’s budget will force it to trade one or all of Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann and Shields as they approach free agency. However, the Rays have shown a knack for identifying talented pitchers in the draft, and they keep that as their focus. — Jim Bowden
The entire thing still seems true other than that the 2011 MLB Draft happened quite a while ago. So wait- you drop the Rays down 5 spots in your FPR and from a 74.1 to a 61.5 after one potentially bad draft? What? We don’ know what the returns from that Rays draft are going to be and we won’t know for at least 2 or 3 years! Actually, the two categories where the Rays lost the most from one FPR to the next are the major league team, and mobility (the trade value of the team’s players). They went down from 27 to 18 for the major league team. Wait a second, I know what’s going on here! ESPN wrote this piece weeks ago when the Rays looked down and all but out. Sorry ESPN, but the Rays have turned it around, and it will be awfully funny to look back at your little FPR when this team goes deep into October. Oh, and by the way, this paragraph by ESPN in this year’s FPR was hilariously filled with errors.
The system received more of a boost this year from prospects already in the system, including the reemergence of outfielders Josh Sale and Drew Vettleson after lost seasons in 2011, as well as good performances from 2011 first-rounders outfielder Mikey Mahtook and righty Taylor Guerrieri, the latter of whom has dominated the New York-Penn League in limited action. — Keith Law
Mistakes: 1) Drew Vettleson didn’t have a lost season in 2011, he was pretty great. What in the world are you talking about? 2) It’s Mikie Mahtook, not Mikey! OK, those are the physical errors, now let’s get to the philosophical ones. 3) No mention at all of Richie Shaffer and the 2012 Draft? 4) No mention of the Rays’ excellent international free agent crop? 5) What about the rest of the Rays’ 2011 first rounders who are playing well- wait, did you mean only the actual first rounders while completely ignoring all the supplemental picks?
You get the idea. All the links are Insider-only, but enjoy ripping them apart further.
We close on a positive note with a couple of tweets.
— Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) August 24, 2012
That is pretty cool.
— Steve Berthiaume (@SBerthiaumeESPN) August 24, 2012
Isn’t it so sad how the Rays have fallen apart this year and let the Yankees run away with the AL East?