[Program note. My apologies for not posting yesterday. I was in Cincinnati on Monday and didn't get home until 2 a.m. yesterday. My day was kind of a blur.]
Last night, I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline (I read a lot more than I “tweet.” Side note, are we locked in on “tweet” as the verb for posting on Twitter? I really hate it.) and saw an interesting thought from @SternFan10:
I presume @SternFan10 is arguing that David Price, or James Shields, will LeBron the Rays and hit the free agent market at their next opportunity to find a team with a supporting offensive cast. To his point, the Rays have now scored 1, 1, 0, 9, 4, and 0 runs in Price’s 6 starts since July 4.
To be fair, Price has been pretty bad in some of those games and more runs likely would not have changed the outcome. But, I think it is at least possible to argue that the pitching staff is starting to press for perfection. And why wouldn’t they? If a starting pitcher wants a win, he is going to have to hold the opponent around 3 runs because the Rays are scoring 4.21 runs per game, 9th in the American League, .13 runs below the league average, and more than a run behind the two teams they are chasing (BOS 5.51 NYY 5.27).
My question, if I were David Price, would be: is it even possible to fix this? We all know the Rays’ model is to search for market inefficiencies and exploit them. That is the way they have been able to level the playing field. But, it’s hard to argue that the league “undervalues” offense. Perhaps there is a part of offensive performance the league is currently undervaluing (similar to the way OBP was undervalued when Billy Beane became Brad Pitt), but if it exists, I do not think the Rays have found it yet.
Today, it looks like the Rays are left to find positive arbitrage in defense and pitching. Something they have done with great success. The only hope for this offense will come from the minor leagues, where the Rays only have a handful of hitting prospects in the upper levels of their system. Does the arrival of Brandon Guyer get the pitching staff fired up? Does a full season of Desmond Jennings? Maybe Russ Canzler?
Those additions might be net gains, but they don’t strike fear in the hearts of the division. So, I don’t blame @SternFan10 for being frustrated on David Price’s behalf. Hopefully, Andrew and Joe have a long-term offensive vision they can explain to our dynamic staff to keep them together.