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Tampa Bay Rays: Where Do the Rays Go from Here?

By David Egbert
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With the second worst record in baseball, on track to lose 100 games, where do the Tampa Bay Rays go from here?

At the All-Star break the Tampa Bay Rays are 17-1/2 games out of first place with the second worst record in the American League and on track to lose 100 games. The team is failing in every facet of the game. The trade deadline is three weeks away.

So, where does the team go from here? Well, I think the answer is not to panic but instead to make a few prudent moves that will help build a team for the 2017/18.

The first step is not to give up on the core starting pitching. Chris Archer, Matt Moore and Jake Odorizzi are All-Star quality front line pitchers and are under team control through at least 2019.

What is wrong with them is way beyond me but they have one of the best pitching coaches in baseball and you have to believe they will straighten it out between now and opening day of 2017.

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Add to that an emerging Blake Snell and a comeback by Alex Cobb and staring pitching should remain the Rays long suit in 2017.

I can’t say the same for Drew Smiley. Once looked upon as the steal in the David Price deal, Smiley has not contributed much over the past two seasons and looks to be a injury waiting to happen.

If the Tampa Bay Rays were in a better position, he could help out the bullpen but at this point the team should try to move him for solid minor league position prospect.

Like the rotation, I would not give up on the back end of the bullpen. Alex Colome, Erasmo Ramirez, Xavier Cedeno and Matt Andreise are quality pitchers that have just been horribly misused by Kevin Cash.

Add a healthy Brad Boxberger to the mix and the team has five relievers that when used in a proper rotation, should help the Rays win a lot of games.

Of course, for this to happen the starters must consistently pitch into the sixth or seventh inning. Finally all five are all under team control through 2019.

Catchers are a different story. Curt Casali has shown enough to be a good major league backup but little more and the team has finally given up on Hank Conger.

Both were hitting below .200 and there have been rumblings that the problems with the team’s starters may in part be the catchers pitch calling.

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There is little to no help in the top two levels of the minor league system so the team is gong to have to live with Casali for the remainder of the season. Clearly, finding a quality catcher should be Matt Silverman’s top priory in the off-season.

Position players are not helping the cause. The entire offense consists of solo home runs and only four regulars are hitting over .250. A major part of the problem here is that this is more a collection of players than a team.

Evan Longoria and Logan Forsythe are the only starters with more than two years of playing time in a Rays’ uniform. Over the past two years, the team has consistently tried to plug in position players rather than build a team. This needs to stop.

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The Rays should immediately move Steve Pearce, Logan Morrison and Desmond Jennings for prospects. Pearce and Morrison are on one-year contracts and even the super loyal Rays can’t put up with Jennings for another year.

Their playing time should go to Oswaldo Arcia, Tim Beckham, Nick Franklin, Taylor Motter, Mikie Mahtook , Daniel Robertson and Richie Shaffer. Maybe all of them will fail between now and opening day 2017 but the team has to find out who will be part of the of the team building process for 2017/18.

Building a team takes patience and planning and you may lose a lot of games as you do it. However, what have the Tampa Bay Rays got to lose? They are already losing a lot of games and not showing any inclination that the current roster is going to turn things around.

Next: Kiermaier set to return against Baltimore

The Rays have 100 regular season/spring training games between now and opening day 2017. Let’s have a little fun and see what the returning wounded and the kids can do to build the next great Tampa Bay Rays team.

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