Including David Price’s final start as a member of the Rays on July 30th, Tampa Bay has dropped five out of its last seven ballgames. Prior to this minor rough patch, the Rays have compiled the best record in all of baseball since June 11th. Some may say this current Rays dry spell is merely the law of averages working itself out. I on the other hand, believe that there is something else that is contributing to Tampa Bay’s recent skid.
The Tampa Bay Rays are a class organization, so they will say all the right things and rally behind their new acquisitions Drew Smyly and Nick Franklin. After all, it is not the fault of the new players that neither of them will be able to replace the production of David Price. But as much as players would like us to believe that they are all emotionless robots who work and live in a complete vacuum, they are not. In my opinion, trading away the best pitcher in franchise history and receiving next to nothing in return has severely damaged this team’s psyche and Tampa Bay’s play on the field has suffered as a result.
On the surface, dropping two of three to strong playoff contenders like the Angels and Athletics may not seem like a big deal. But with the steep hole that Tampa Bay is still trying to climb out of, there is very little margin for error. As of August 7th, the Rays are 9 1/2 games out of first place in the A.L. East, and 5 1/2 games out of the final wild-card spot. It is possible that the Rays are one extended slump away from being out of the playoff picture completely.
Luckily for Tampa Bay, they have a day off today which may help to re-fresh the entire team. In addition, Tampa Bay has the benefit of a soft schedule coming up. The Rays will begin a three-game road set with the lowly Chicago Cubs tomorrow, and then head to Texas for a four-game series with the last-place Rangers on August 11th. Hopefully, these two series can serve as a much needed tune-up for the grueling schedule to follow. With games against the Yankees, Tigers, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Red Sox later this month, Tampa Bay’s ultimate playoff fate in 2014 may come down to how well they are able to run through this gauntlet.
I feel as though everyone connected to the Rays family is thoroughly disappointed with the David Price trade. But as the saying goes, the show must go on. And as we approach the dog days of summer, I’m hoping that our boys can find a way out of their recent funk. Let’s go Rays!