Rays Steamline 2011 Ticket Stock Player Selections
Something is afoot within the Tampa Bay Rays organization. It has become a bit of a tradition for the Rays ticket stock to have at least 6-8 of their high profile or ” up and coming” Major League Baseball players showcased on the season ticket stock given out before the season. But in 2011, that number has dwindled to 3 Rays players and Rays Manager Joe Maddon.
The Rays Manager is a great selection, with his slogans, mantras and now slimmed down glasses front and center in the “Rays Way” of thinking. Not every MLB Manager is treated like a rockstar, but Maddon has produced some amazing results in his short tenure and winning a AL Easts tile for the second time in 3 seasons tends to make you a front and center piece of the puzzle.
The three Rays players picked this season to emblazon the tops of the Rays tickets are starting pitcher David Price, All Star Third Baseman Evan Longoria and the “Zorilla” himself, Ben Zobrist. Missing is usual staples like Starter James Shields, B J Upton or even up and coming catcher John Jaso.
Heck you might even think the Rays would showcase the addition of Manny Ramirez,or Johnny Damon since they have included them in the promotional giveaway items for the season. Maybe the Rays are considering them possibly Trade Deadline roster deletions or not wanting to promote their short term players.
Even with the “Manny dreadlocks ” destined to possibly be in-house in the Rays Team Store by Friday’s Home Opener, it seems a bit “safe”, possibly even a bit “vanilla” for a team that always seems to be stirring the palate with new and interesting bright ideas.
But the Rays decisions on the three highlighted Rays players gracing the ticket stock were great choices. How can you not include Price in the mix as he was the 2010 Warren Spawn winner, thew starting pitcher of the 2010 All Star Game and one of the top AL Cy Young candidates. Longoria is another simple no-brainer because of his top 20 MLB player presence, another Gold Glove and a string of All Star appearances.
But the addition of Zobrist as the third and final Rays player on the ticket stock is a bit curious to me. His 2010 stats took a bit of a backwards slide compared to his break-out 2008 season, but he is genuinely likable and has that killer nickname.
His elevated 2011 salary ($ 4.5 million, 3rd highest on the Rays payroll ) and the increased offensive demands on him in 2011 might become a possible marketing implosion. Got to say I have a bit more faith in Shields getting his act together than Zobrist, but I am personally hoping I am also wrong about Zobrist’s 2011 season.
You would have thought the Rays might promote starting SS Reid Brignac a bit more since he is going to be a significant cornerstone of the Rays defense in 2011. Or possibly play up the possibility of OF Matt Joyce finally getting a fair chance to compete more on a consistent basis possibly finally showcasing what he’s got since his trade here from Detroit in what seems like eons ago.
Was the obvious overlooking of Rays Rookie starting pitcher Jeremy “Hellboy” Hellickson a calculated move, like Brignac to keep the pressure off the pair with an eye to future promotions and possibly a marquee spot on the 2012 ticket stock. It might seems a bit perplexing to overlook the dynamic pair, but the pressures of their Rookie campaigns along with finding their own MLB grooves might take presence now.
With the remodeling of the Rays Bullpen, the Rays could not effectively focus on anyone in the Bullpen except possibly RP Andy Sonnanstine or J P Howell as a per-Spring Training Rays Bullpen member who might outlast the late March purge to possibly make the final 25-man roster.
But maybe that is the underlying theme of this season. Maybe the Rays knowing so much change has evolved since the end of Game 5 of the ALDS that a step back might be more productive at this point than thrusting a fist full of players in the faces of Rays fans with a chance for a few players setbacks or departures during the late end of the season.
Already this is looking like a season that will be a bit more subdued, possibly with the team following more of the mainline MLB “status quo” than being outwardly flashy and “in-your-face” off the field.
Maybe I am just a creature of baseball habit here, a fond admirer of the Rays past tradition. Maybe it is also time for me to adjust to a new Rays direction.
Sure I am a bit disappointed that the Rays players on the ticket stock got streamlined to a small handful this season. In this case, for me personally, more is definitely better.