Tampa Bay Rays: The problem with slapdicks

By Seth Carter
Chipper Jones (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Chipper Jones (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Tampa Bay Rays
David Price (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /

First of all, we won’t get into the true meaning of a slapdick since we’ve already addressed that. For the sake of this article we are going to refer to young prospects and players to be named later as “slapdicks.”

Related Story. Top Six Slapdicks in Sports HIstory. light

The rays have a calling card in the Major Leagues. They routinely grow top-notch talent in their rich farm system, then trade them away prior to paying the big paycheck the player earned. The Rays will typically find a team that thinks they need a piece to complete their team, then trade said player for a handful of prospects and youngsters who have more team control. Team control means cheap labor.

Austin Meadows is estimated to make $583,500 this year. That’s the way the Rays like it. The moment players start working their way through arbitration the Rays will find a suitor and ship them off.

They are profoundly astute talent assessors. They are very good at what they do. But for the fans, it sucks.

It hurts to see a star come up a Ray then be swapped for prospects. Then it starts to feel better when the prospects play well. Then it starts to hurt again when they get traded.

The smart thing may not always be the best thing. 

When you were a kid (and perhaps even now) you would play baseball video games and live vicariously through the digital simulations. You would sign your favorite players to long-term deals to ensure they made the Hall of Fame with your favorite team’s hat on. There was something heroic about sticking with one team.

Chipper Jones was not only a super hero to Braves’ fans, he took a pay cut to help bring Tim Hudson on board.

So how do Rays’s fans daydream about their team? I booted up MLB 2K12 on my PC the other day to attempt to step into GM, Erik Neander’s shoes. It’s not very magical…

Blake Snell‘s reaction to the Tommy Pham trade was how we all felt…again. He didn’t call Xavier Edwards a “slapdick” because he doesn’t like his skills. He could not care less about his skills. Fans aren’t paying for tickets to Tropicana Field because they heard Xavier Edwards is playing well in High-A.

We didn’t care about analyzing the numbers or the return on the trade. We just didn’t want to see Pham go. Children growing up in Tampa will probably never have a Chipper Jones of their own. The Braves honored Chipper and made him a rich man, and a legend in Atlanta. The Rays would have traded him for a handful of slapdicks.