Those Wild And Crazy Rays

I’m looking forward to the movie “Moneyball” hitting theaters on Friday. But rather than highlight the Oakland A’s, how about a movie on these Tampa Bay Rays.

I don’t know if the Rays will rally past the Boston Red Sox to win the wild card when many – myself included – picked the Red Sox to win the whole thing. But it’s amazing that Tampa is even in contention.

Think about what the Rays have done this year. They’ve managed to rebuild in one year and become competitive, something that the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays haven’t been able to do in 15 or 20 years of rebuilding in the tough AL East. Just take a look at the players that Tampa lost from last year’s playoff team:

1B Carlos Pena
SS Jason Bartlett
LF Carl Crawford
SP Matt Garza
RP Rafael Soriano
RP Grant Balfour
RP Joaquin Benoit
RP Randy Choate
RP Dan Wheeler
RP Lance Cormier

Did I miss anyone?

That should have been a significant blow to their chances. Look no further than the Minnesota Twins to see an example of a team that couldn’t replace its bullpen quite as easily. And add to that an All-Star outfielder in Crawford, a top-of-the-rotation starter in Garza and a solid shortstop up the middle in Bartlett – all gone from the Rays 2010 squad.

I’m really pulling for Tampa. But either way, it’s a much better feel-good underdog story than the A’s of a decade ago.

A couple links:

FanGraphs has a Q&A with departing Twins broadcaster John Gordon. has a piece on minor league lifer Chase Lambin, who is in the Twins organization.