Blog Entry

Homegrown Team: Tampa Bay Rays

Posted on: December 8, 2011 8:43 am
Josh Hamilton

By C. Trent Rosecrans

What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

No team has had as much success drafting and developing its players like the Tampa Bay Rays. The one-time laughingstock of MLB is a model franchise to even the biggest spenders. The Rays have had big name leave, but keep replacing them with younger, seemingly better players. A year ago, the Rays lost Carl Crawford because they could no longer afford him. By the end of the season, Crawford and the Red Sox were sitting at home while the Rays were in the playoffs -- again. The reason is because they grown enough crops on the farm to have a successful harvest nearly every fall.


1. Carl Crawford, LF
2. Desmond Jennings, RF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Josh Hamilton, DH
5. B.J. Upton, CF
6. Aubrey Huff, 1B
7. Reid Brignac, 2B
8. John Jaso, C
9. Elliot Johnson, SS

Starting Rotation

1. David Price
2. James Shields
3. Jeremy Hellickson
4. Wade Davis
5. Jeff Niemann


Closer - Dan Wheeler
Set up - Matt Moore, Andy Sonnanstine, Alex Cobb, Jake McGee, Jason Hammel, Jose Veras

Notable Bench Players

The Rays have a couple of decent bats off the bench in Delmon Young, Matt Diaz, Jonny Gomes and Jorge Cantu.

What's Good?

Crawford and Hamilton to go along with Longoria, Upton and Jennings? That helps, that's for sure. The rotation is exactly the same -- and that's a good thing. You've also got Moore sitting there. The starters are an embarrassment of riches. It's one of the main reasons the Rays can still compete in the AL East with a smaller payroll.

What's Not?

The bottom half of the lineup isn't great -- especially with Johnson at short. But there's enough help at the top of the lineup to make up for the bottom. The bench isn't deep defensively, but it's the American League so you don't need quite as much as you do in the National League. The bullpen isn't full of experienced relievers, but there are some quality arms that can switch from starting to relieving.

Comparison to real 2011

The same pitching staff plus Crawford and Hamilton make up for losing some of its Frankenstein bullpen and Johnny Damon. I put Hamilton at DH to try to save some wear and tear on his body, he can still play in the field every once in a while and give Jennings a day off and have someone like Young DH. Or Young can play in the outfield. The bullpen might be the most interesting question, but I think the offense and the starting pitching are enough to improve, if slightly, on the team's 91-71 finish.

Next: Philadelphia Phillies

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Since: Feb 8, 2008
Posted on: December 10, 2011 2:17 pm

Homegrown Team: Tampa Bay Rays

Completing the Rays for this exercise must have been easy. They don't sign anyone, so it's pretty much who has walked away over the past few years.

Since: Oct 13, 2009
Posted on: December 9, 2011 3:20 pm

Homegrown Team: Tampa Bay Rays

Very few of the players the Rays have won with were first overall or even first round picks. They are good due to thier ability to make low end trades and pickups. Crawford, Shields, Moore, Hellickson, Davis, Huff, Jennings were not first round picks.

Since: Apr 21, 2008
Posted on: December 8, 2011 9:40 pm

Homegrown Team: Tampa Bay Rays

STRONG team, but a nice call...........anyone would love that line up!

Since: Dec 13, 2008
Posted on: December 8, 2011 5:21 pm

Homegrown Team: Tampa Bay Rays

thats a pretty good looking team, but thats what you get for picking 1st overall for a decade!

Since: Dec 13, 2008
Posted on: December 8, 2011 5:21 pm

Homegrown Team: Tampa Bay Rays

thats a pretty good looking team, but thats what you get for picking 1st overall for a decade!

Since: Dec 8, 2011
Posted on: December 8, 2011 1:43 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Dec 28, 2006
Posted on: December 8, 2011 11:20 am

Homegrown Team: Tampa Bay Rays

starting pitching in free agency is getting so much money because all your giving up is money rather then prospects. the trade market is grossly overpriced. i dont see a decent trade option, other then maybe one of the angels spare first basemen. 

Since: Sep 28, 2010
Posted on: December 8, 2011 9:53 am

Homegrown Team: Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays really need to deal an SP for a big bat. If teams are paying 14.5 mil for Buehrle, then Jeff Neimann could fetch quite a heavy batter in return. I know the Rays would love to resign Kotchman, but I don't think they can afford to pay him even 3 million, especially if they are considering to sign Damon again for around 4 million.

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