Last night’s Tampa Bay Rays win was their best in a long time. They rallied for four runs in the fourth inning against Michael Wacha on big hits from Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce, and Grant Balfour delivered 2.1 perfect innings for the save. But at the end of the day, what does it mean? The win brought the Rays’ record to 25-42, still the worst record in baseball by three games. The Toronto Blue Jays lost so the Rays gained a game, but they are still 14 games back. Obviously every team wins games, even the worst ones. However, what do we want from the Rays right now? Do we want them to go on a run and do their best to make up for this horrific start but fall short?
Here is the reality: if the Rays play .600 ball for the rest of 2014, they will finish with 82 wins. That is the point we have gotten to. That would be nice–nobody will want to play the Rays and they will be the ultimate spoiler–but does that really help them at all? All the Rays will do is hurt their draft slot and still fail to make the playoffs. The reason that the Rays should keep playing hard is really next year. They want to enter the season with momentum and get right back to contending. Even if this year is a long shot, next season still remains promising. The Rays will have an excellent rotation, a lineup with Kevin Kiermaier within it for the entire season and Wil Myers healthy, and a bullpen with another chance to get its act together. The 2015 Tampa Bay Rays will contend in the American League East. At the end of the day, though, how the 2014 team does will not really factor too much into that.
The Rays are too talented to have the worst record in baseball. Their players will start performing the way they are capable and this team will start winning games. However, the Rays should trade David Price, Matt Joyce, and just maybe Ben Zobrist because it would give them an unbelievable trifecta for next season: the trade chips they acquire, a top 10 in the draft, and a team capable of getting right back in the postseason mix next season. 2014 will go down as a failure for the Tampa Bay Rays, but it could go down as a bridge year where they retooled their minor league system, and instead of entering a rebuilding process, their major league team returned right back to their 2013 levels. That is a golden opportunity, and it would take a streak of epic proportions for the Rays to pass it up.
If the Tampa Bay Rays go on a crazy winning streak, their 2014 hopes are not over yet. Otherwise, it will be time to make some trades, give some young players chances, and get ready for a big 2015 and beyond. The best thing for the Rays to do is struggle to win games now knowing that next season will be just fine and future years will be better if this year is not.
Tags: Tampa Bay Rays