The day after Tampa Bay's thousandth 1000th victory as a franchise, remember how hopeless things seemed several years ago.
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It seems like a long time ago now, but things had gotten bad enough for the Rays several years ago that Joe considered abandoning hope for the franchise in the following piece, which originally ran as a "Prospectus Today" column on June 9, 2005.
After a historically awful season, the Rays are about to turn the corner with this unit, as with several others.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays existed for 10 seasons-the club exorcised the Devil this past November-and have been plagued for most of that decade by an inability to put a decent bullpen together. Consider for a moment that in five out of 10 years, Tampa Bay's firemen combined for a negative Adjusted Runs Prevented (ARP) total.
What exactly is ARP, and why is it used here rather than another bullpen metric, such as WXRL? ARP is a pure context-free measure of pitcher effectiveness that doesn't take into account the leverage of the situation; a counting stat that compares a reliever's performance to how an average (not replacement-level) relief pitcher would have performed in the same situations. In other words, if you are looking simply for how many more runs a bullpen prevented or allowed than average, regardless of the timing of the relief work or how it impacted the game, then ARP is your stat. It boils away luck and any statistical advantage (or disadvantage) attained from pitching well (or poorly) in more important situations to get at the bare-bones underlying performance, which is what we want to evaluate in looking at past bullpen work. As Keith Woolner explained in a 2005 mailbag:
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Past championship success stories, Derek writes, should inspire Joe Maddon's guys.
Is there a fan base in America to whom the concept of Hope and Faith would seem more far-fetched than it would to supporters of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays? In Pittsburgh and Kansas City, fans at least have memories of the days when the victory champagne flowed freely. Texas, Seattle and the north side of Chicago have at least had opportunities to make noise in the playoffs, even if those opportunities were squandered. In contrast, Tampa Bay's nine years in baseball have been an exercise in frustration and incompetence, without even a modest run of success to relieve the monotony.
This year's four candidates for the second Dick Martin Award for Best Medical Staff include the 2004 winner. See how they all stack up.
Conversely, teams that are able to keep their players healthy can reap the benefits of doing so. Landing few players on the disabled list allows a club to let their minor-league players develop longer instead of having to rush them to the majors to fill in for injured regulars. Minimizing DL costs is also an investment in the future, as preventing traumatic injuries and their lingering complications allows players to realize their ability and produce on the field.
Last year, BP's Will Carroll presented the inaugural Dick Martin Award for Best Medical Staff to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' team. This year, the candidates have been narrowed down to the top four, with the winner to be named and the award presented at the winter meetings in Dallas next month. The criteria for the award include the amount of days spent by players on the disabled list, the amount of money spent on players' contracts while on they're on the disabled list, dollar distance from the average DL salary and percent of team payroll spent on DL salary. These criteria were chosen to demonstrate how well teams were able to keep their players healthy not only in comparison with their peers but also within their means.
The Devil Rays make yet another head-scratching move.
This week, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays fell permanently off my radar as a major-league franchise. Never really relevant, I'd seen enough signs of life--Carl Crawford, Jorge Cantu, Scott Kazmir--to entertain the notion that they weren't a lost cause. Given continued good work by the player-development staff, another strong draft or two and some judicious acquisitions at the major-league level, it wasn't hard to see .500 teams and better in the future.
A former player talks about his retirement, another gets ready for his, and Billy Koch refuses to pay high gas prices.
"And I miss looking that pitcher in the eye. I can't look my son in the eye when he's throwing me a Wiffle ball and say, 'I'm going to rip one off your forehead.'" --former A's infielder and current sports radio talk show host F.P. Santangelo, on what he misses about playing professional baseball (Sacramento Bee)