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Who wants to be the Rays?


Boom Boom
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What the Rays have done is nothing short of extraordinary.  They're consistently competitive in one of the toughest divisions with a shoestring budget and a golf dome for a ballpark.  There are certainly things the Twins could learn, but the Rays have been successful in spite of these things, not because of them.

A subset of Twins fans seems to think the Rays blueprint is a road map for success.  But the Rays are playing with one hand tied behind their back.  If you gave the Rays 50-60M more to spend, they might actually spend it.  

My question is, how closely should the Twins follow the Rays example?

 

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There's a lot of things that the Rays do well in player development that I'd love the Twins to replicate, but there are a lot of constraints to their organization that probably drive some of those things too.  What they've been able to sustain is quite incredible, but I don't really see any other teams effectively duplicating what they do with regularity.  It seems that the Rays have to be creative to remain competitive.  They've been very good at it, and it is extremely impressive.  Too bad that many in Florida don't care.  I'm not convinced that getting a new ballpark in a better location will help that.

Their ability to lock in their young stars early is risky, but I like that aggressiveness in trying to retain the elite players that come out of their system.  

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I would love the Twins to be similar in how the Rays identify, develop, and maximize most talent.  They also know when to trade away players to bring in large returns to reload.  If the Twins can emulate that, and use the increase in funds to capitalize in other areas.  

I would not advocate to always have a limited budget like they do, but they know how to keep bringing in talent.  I am sure there is times they wish they could spend more either keeping someone or supplementing team with a higher end FA.  However, the fact that they have to trade players away generally before they walk in FA knowing they will not sign them, actually at times helps them reload.  

At the end of KC run of playoffs all their top guys were nearing FA at same time.  They pushed for one last year and let the guys walk in FA, signing who they could.  They then dropped back down as the player they signed aged and the system was dry of replacement guys.  

The Rays have learned that very few players produce positive numbers into mid-30's and signing a player into their mid-30's is not viable for them.  They do not tie themselves to "fan favorites" that can no longer produce at high levels. 

I do not want the Twins to be 100 percent like the Rays, but I would love the Twins to have a good supply of replacements and then spend when the time is right to fill holes. 

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I'm in agreement with the admiration of  the Rays. They really do a great job evaluating their players. That really helps in their drafting, developing and trading . They know when a player is topped out and overrated then they put them on the market and make a killing. This is an area that the Twins are scared to death to get involved in and rightly so. 

Rays do well in developing pitching and defense but hitting, they seem to lack. We traded Palacio to TB, Palacio was a good hitting SS prospect. When traded he stayed in the same conference, he faced the same pitchers but his hitting tanked. Now that he's back with us again, his hitting is coming back.

Just with pitching & defense they do very well but if they can figure out their hitting they could go all the way.

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I admire the Rays system because it’s driven from ownership to the batboy. They understand how their system works and they embrace the system. Their system maximizes and understands maximum efficiency,  marketing at the point near maximum value of their players. They understand the tenure of shelf life (time) of players. It’s away of generating revenue for the ball club because their financial support from the community doesn’t generate enough revenue dollars to survive. They understand the theory of young aspiring players will generate value while over the hill old players with depleting skills will generally decrease in value.  The important thing is they got a plan, and they stick to it and thrive in it. 

 

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4 hours ago, Boom Boom said:

If you gave the Rays 50-60M more to spend, they might actually spend it. 

What's truly extraordinary is how the Rays have convinced the general public they don't have a lot more money to spend.

I did the math awhile back and the Rays receive roughly their payroll in money directly from MLB (national TV rights, MLB.tv digital split, etc) BEFORE they receive any "competitive balance" money.

Guess whose local TV broadcast contract is significantly more lucrative than the Twins? I'll give you one hint: their team name rhymes with DAYS.

The Tampa Bay Rays are bad for baseball and are a scam. I began actively cheering against them once I did some basic math on their payroll expenditures versus their revenue. Fans need to realize this and stop tolerating their bull****, to be frank about it. What they do with their revolving door of laundry makes for a bad fan experience and no fanbase should tolerate it.

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6 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

What's truly extraordinary is how the Rays have convinced the general public they don't have a lot more money to spend.

I did the math awhile back and the Rays receive roughly their payroll in money directly from MLB (national TV rights, MLB.tv digital split, etc) BEFORE they receive any "competitive balance" money.

Guess whose local TV broadcast contract is significantly more lucrative than the Twins? I'll give you one hint: their team name rhymes with DAYS.

The Tampa Bay Rays are bad for baseball and are a scam. I began actively cheering against them once I did some basic math on their payroll expenditures versus their revenue. Fans need to realize this and stop tolerating their bull****, to be frank about it. What they do with their revolving door of laundry makes for a bad fan experience and no fanbase should tolerate it.

Out of curiosity, how does their ballpark revenue stack up?  Or even the radio contracts?  The Trop makes the Metrodome look like a palace and it's virtually empty all of the time.  Last I heard (some time ago), the Yankees radio broadcasts in the Tampa area had higher ratings than the Rays did.

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7 minutes ago, wsnydes said:

Out of curiosity, how does their ballpark revenue stack up?  Or even the radio contracts?  The Trop makes the Metrodome look like a palace and it's virtually empty all of the time.  Last I heard (some time ago), the Yankees radio broadcasts in the Tampa area had higher ratings than the Rays did.

Their stadium revenue is definitely one of the lowest in baseball but I don't have any hard numbers on it. But their TV contract is about $10m more valuable than the Twins per season (which is about +25%, $40m compared to $50m).

But the Twins payroll was about +75% over the Rays, $70m compared to $120m (the gap would have been even larger had the Twins not traded higher-dollar players mid-season).

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3 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

Their stadium revenue is definitely one of the lowest in baseball but I don't have any hard numbers on it. But their TV contract is about $10m more valuable than the Twins per season (which is about +25%, $40m compared to $50m).

Probably lots of layers there.  Given the median age of Florida vs MN, you have to wonder if and how that plays into things.  A large segment of the Ray's potential fan base can't drive after dark and are on fixed incomes.

Regardless, that is quite a gap in TV revenue.

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7 minutes ago, wsnydes said:

Probably lots of layers there.  Given the median age of Florida vs MN, you have to wonder if and how that plays into things.  A large segment of the Ray's potential fan base can't drive after dark and are on fixed incomes.

Regardless, that is quite a gap in TV revenue.

Gates obviously impact team revenue but the extent is really overblown. From B-Ref:

Quote

In Major League Baseball, 48% of local revenues are subject to revenue sharing and are distributed equally among all 30 teams, with each team receiving 3.3% of the total sum generated. As a result, in 2018, each team received $118 million from this pot. Teams also receive a share of national revenues, which were estimated to be $91 million per team, also in 2018.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Revenue_sharing

It's pretty hard to see those numbers and then say "a sub-$70m payroll is definitely reasonable".

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1 minute ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

Gates obviously impact team revenue but the extent is really overblown. From B-Ref:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Revenue_sharing

It's pretty hard to see those numbers and then say "a sub-$70m payroll is definitely reasonable".

Agreed.  I wasn't really trying to argue otherwise.  I was more trying to look at multiple angles to the conversation since I don't have the data you were looking at.  Sometimes it's hard to wrap one's head around such things when we're talking such large figures.

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Just now, wsnydes said:

Agreed.  I wasn't really trying to argue otherwise.  I was more trying to look at multiple angles to the conversation since I don't have the data you were looking at.  Sometimes it's hard to wrap one's head around such things when we're talking such large figures.

Oh, for sure, I didn't think you were arguing, I was just presenting some of the information I've read over the past couple of years.

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38 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

What's truly extraordinary is how the Rays have convinced the general public they don't have a lot more money to spend.

I did the math awhile back and the Rays receive roughly their payroll in money directly from MLB (national TV rights, MLB.tv digital split, etc) BEFORE they receive any "competitive balance" money.

Guess whose local TV broadcast contract is significantly more lucrative than the Twins? I'll give you one hint: their team name rhymes with DAYS.

The Tampa Bay Rays are bad for baseball and are a scam. I began actively cheering against them once I did some basic math on their payroll expenditures versus their revenue. Fans need to realize this and stop tolerating their bull****, to be frank about it. What they do with their revolving door of laundry makes for a bad fan experience and no fanbase should tolerate it.

According to Fangraphs their TV revenue is $5M more than the Twins.  Is that significant?    MLB TV Contracts

You are missing a few things when making such a simple comparison.  They still have all of the staff and other operating expenses of the other teams.  I am sure they don't spend the same amount as the Yankees on staff and expense but it's probably close to as much as they spend on players.  You are also forgetting bonus money for drafted players both international and domestic.  Then, there are Payroll taxes and other benefits.  Spotrac estimates benefits at $16M.   Rays Payroll

 

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3 minutes ago, Major League Ready said:

According to Fangraphs their TV revenue is $5M more than the Twins.  Is that significant?    MLB TV Contracts

Fangraphs is likely incorrect. The Rays have an escalating TV deal and should have received over $50m in 2021.

https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Journal/Issues/2018/02/26/Media/Sports-media-sidebar-1.aspx

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As someone who follows the majors and minors as a whole I'm all for the Twins being more "Rays-esque." But there's also some bad PR stuff in moving on from your best players so frequently. For fans who don't follow the league as a whole it is understandably frustrating to have so much roster turnover and I'm sure hurts their bottom line to some extent.

But if we're just talking running a baseball team that's trying to win, then, yes, I want the Twins to follow the Ray's blueprint, but spend more money. Very broadly speaking the Rays have gotten very good at not losing good players for nothing. They extend who they can early and for cheap while trading others with more than a year or 2 of service to maximize their return when they know they can't (won't?) extend that player and they have a replacement or 2 ready.

They've gotten very good at developing players and that's the lifeline of every organization. They'll trade prospects when needed, but since they've built such a deep minor league system, and trade for so many prospects, they are able to keep their pipeline moving. The Dodgers took Andrew Friedman from the Rays and he's built (on paper) a monster of an organization. The Dodgers are built on homegrown guys that they continue to replenish while also being able to spend the most in the game. (On another note...this is what will kill the game, the rich guys have started stealing the smart guys and the money difference is really going to matter moving forward)

The Twins are building a really solid minor league system. They capitalized on a down year by moving Berrios for maximum return and got a ton for half a season of Cruz. Continue making those types of moves while also extending guys (my complaint is they were set on trading Buxton as well until fans made it real clear they'd revolt if they did) and bringing in FAs like Tampa can't (won't?) and you're in a great spot. That's why I'm against the idea of trading prospects at this time for 1 or 2 year pitchers that won't reasonably put the Twins over the top in 2022 (or 2023). The Twins have finally started to put together a pipeline of prospects and they should be keeping them to have replacements on hand and bringing in some FAs to fill in.

I think this is the general plan the Twins current FO are trying to implement. The question is have they built the systems to develop guys the way they need. I think they screw up drafting so many corner, bat first guys who have only 1 way to impact a game. Tampa is loaded with up the middle talent that they then move to corners if needed. I'll always prefer a flier on a Cavaco type prospect than a Sabato type guy. There's some things the Twins do that I don't understand, but I think they're putting together an organization than can provide sustained success. Now we just need to see the results.

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55 minutes ago, Major League Ready said:

According to Fangraphs their TV revenue is $5M more than the Twins.  Is that significant?    MLB TV Contracts

You are missing a few things when making such a simple comparison.  They still have all of the staff and other operating expenses of the other teams.  I am sure they don't spend the same amount as the Yankees on staff and expense but it's probably close to as much as they spend on players.  You are also forgetting bonus money for drafted players both international and domestic.  Then, there are Payroll taxes and other benefits.  Spotrac estimates benefits at $16M.   Rays Payroll

 

$16 mil is pretty much the same for every team. It might fluctuate a little, but 10% up or down is a relief pitcher that gets DFA’d and we don’t think twice about it.


Outside of player payroll the cost of operation is so similar why compare it? if a team has 100 interns making $10 per hour, who cares? That’s less than one major league minimum salary

hence the point of the OP.

scale

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1 hour ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

What's truly extraordinary is how the Rays have convinced the general public they don't have a lot more money to spend.

I did the math awhile back and the Rays receive roughly their payroll in money directly from MLB (national TV rights, MLB.tv digital split, etc) BEFORE they receive any "competitive balance" money.

Guess whose local TV broadcast contract is significantly more lucrative than the Twins? I'll give you one hint: their team name rhymes with DAYS.

The Tampa Bay Rays are bad for baseball and are a scam. I began actively cheering against them once I did some basic math on their payroll expenditures versus their revenue. Fans need to realize this and stop tolerating their bull****, to be frank about it. What they do with their revolving door of laundry makes for a bad fan experience and no fanbase should tolerate it.

Completely agree. I don't say this lightly, but the Rays ought to be contracted from baseball. They are by far the franchise out of all the major sports leagues that deserve to be contracted. No team in any league should emulate their mode of operation. Their success is a fluke and born out of scummy cheapness (a cheapness that makes even the Pohlads blush) and is terrible for the sport.  

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34 minutes ago, Yawn Gardenhose said:

Completely agree. I don't say this lightly, but the Rays ought to be contracted from baseball. They are by far the franchise out of all the major sports leagues that deserve to be contracted. No team in any league should emulate their mode of operation. Their success is a fluke and born out of scummy cheapness (a cheapness that makes even the Pohlads blush) and is terrible for the sport.  

I mean, as long as the Pirates exist, I can't agree...

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1 hour ago, Sconnie said:

$16 mil is pretty much the same for every team. It might fluctuate a little, but 10% up or down is a relief pitcher that gets DFA’d and we don’t think twice about it.


Outside of player payroll the cost of operation is so similar why compare it? if a team has 100 interns making $10 per hour, who cares? That’s less than one major league minimum salary

hence the point of the OP.

scale

I just listened to an interview with someone from the cardinals.  They have 400 employees now up 100 in the past 5 years.  These positions are subject matter experts.  Health and physical fitness experts.  More hitting and fielding coaches.  More analysists, etc.  Just health insurance for a full-time employee is close to $20K.  They are certainly not $10.hr interns.  Obviously, maintaining Target field and travel for a MLB team is not cheap.

Based purely on a rough guess from Forbes estimates, the average team probably spends in the neighborhood of $100M on "operations" 

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2 hours ago, chpettit19 said:

I think this is the general plan the Twins current FO are trying to implement. The question is have they built the systems to develop guys the way they need. I think they screw up drafting so many corner, bat first guys who have only 1 way to impact a game. Tampa is loaded with up the middle talent that they then move to corners if needed. I'll always prefer a flier on a Cavaco type prospect than a Sabato type guy. There's some things the Twins do that I don't understand, but I think they're putting together an organization than can provide sustained success. Now we just need to see the results.

This is what drives me nuts too.  I can deal with drafting athletes and finding spots for them later.  Up the middle guys are going to be pure athletes and can pretty much be put anywhere.  Corner guys are inherently less athletic, hence being a corner guy.  That's about the extent of their flexibility.  From a position player aspect, that's by far the biggest difference in the two franchises and I think it shows. 

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There’s a reason why the Rays and A’s are consistently in the bottom 5 of attendance each year. And it’s not all directly related to their stadiums being a dump or bad locations. Why be a fan of teams that trade star players as soon as they become expensive? Sports is about entertainment, and attaching your fandom/excitement to players on your team.

The Rays in their existence have only had Evan Longoria to attach their fandom to for a long period of time. Now they have Wander Franco, but I wouldn’t rule out them trading him too before his contract is up. Who was the last Oakland A’s player who wore their uniform more than 5-6 years? 

Would I love the Twins to replicate the Rays’ player development model? Absolutely. There are 29 other teams trying to replicate what they’re doing and only they have the voodoo magic to pull it off. 

 

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1 hour ago, Yawn Gardenhose said:

Completely agree. I don't say this lightly, but the Rays ought to be contracted from baseball. They are by far the franchise out of all the major sports leagues that deserve to be contracted. No team in any league should emulate their mode of operation. Their success is a fluke and born out of scummy cheapness (a cheapness that makes even the Pohlads blush) and is terrible for the sport.  

Since and including 2008, the Rays have four losing seasons and two of those are 80-82 seasons.  That run also includes three 95+ win seasons, a 100 win season, seven playoff years and two World Series appearances.  They also won two-thirds of their games in 2020.  All of that while playing in the AL East.  That's one hell of a fluke.  

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I kind of admire the Rays for how they use the money that they do spend, even though I also think it's bad that they don't spend more. Would love to see a team with Rays level shrewdness without the Rays arbitrarily low budget.

One thing I wonder about when people talk about emulating the Rays is how possible it is to replicate what they do. It seems like the Rays occupy a particular niche in the baseball ecosystem, and their methods would yield diminishing returns if more teams did them. The Rays gain an advantage by ruthlessly cutting bait and trading star players for prospects when they start to get expensive. What would happen if ten more teams in baseball all decided to try this Rays strategy all at once? The market would be flooded with star players up for trade, the Rays would have to settle for worse prospects due to greater competition, and big-spending teams would be able to vacuum up more star players cheaper and earlier. The competitive advantage of operating like the Rays would dry up, and star players would have to settle for lower salaries as there would be more cheapskate teams refusing to pay star salaries.

Would baseball be significantly thrown off balance if one more team duplicated the Rays strategy? What about two more teams? What about five more teams? What about the 15 smallest market teams all becoming 10% more like the Rays? I'm not sure where the line is before it stops working, but I don't think the overall outcome of being like the Rays is good for baseball.

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22 minutes ago, wsnydes said:

Since and including 2008, the Rays have four losing seasons and two of those are 80-82 seasons.  That run also includes three 95+ win seasons, a 100 win season, seven playoff years and two World Series appearances.  They also won two-thirds of their games in 2020.  All of that while playing in the AL East.  That's one hell of a fluke.  

How many teams have been able to replicate?

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14 minutes ago, Sconnie said:

How many teams have been able to replicate?

Someone that has far more time than I will have to figure that one out.  I'm going to guess that it's a short list and none of them with payrolls near Tampa's will be on it.  But that's certainly not a fluke.  They've earned that success.

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21 minutes ago, Sconnie said:

How many teams have been able to replicate?

Very few teams are as cutthroat as the Rays are. That's why people bring up how it's bad for the sport. The A's have been doing similar things for far longer, but haven't seen quite the same success. Still successful, though. But most teams listen to their fan bases and don't trade guys sometimes (only reason Buxton is still in a Twins' uni). It hasn't been replicated cuz even teams like the Indians/Guardians who try to replicate it hold onto guys like Kluber and Lindor for slightly too long and don't get the elite prospect returns Tampa has. Tampa is ruthless. They'll trade anyone at anytime. Few owners or front offices have the stomach for that.

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You choose and develop your own prospects.

 

You gamble and sign them longer term sooner rather than later. If they excel, they become a very lucrative trading piece in the greater scheme of improving your team today, not tomorrow.

 

Play carefully the free agent game. Get guys that will work on the team, but are also tradable (sellable) assets. You can never ever have too many prospects, and if you carefully chart the progression of players, you know that you suddenly have 10-12 rotation arms who you need to protect, but can only really keep seven and you start moving them accordingly. By the time a player has been 2-3 years in your system, you know if they will be followers of your team dynaamics, if they have "social" issues or not, and if your development staff stays on tops of things, you create and use their value, again, sooner rather than never.

 

Prospects are wonderful to play with. It's just trying to not be in a "I have to move this guy or he will be leaving" stage. The Rays, like the A's, don't play the servicetime delay game. They are happy to use a player as long as they can, and then make the higher salary someone else's problem. 

 

We all complain, like in Twins-land, that the Twins don't make the move from being the central leader to a take-it-all-in-the-postseason team. Well, there is only one big winner, one small winnder, and two afterthoughts in that environment. It is a game of chance. Job one IS to be competitive, put fans in the stands, and...sadly...make money.

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The Rays system will not work for every ownership group in mlb.  Because every ownership group has their own style on how to operate an organization. It’s the culture of their organization. The current dictates of baseball are what caused St. Louis to hire a 100 more back room employees so they remain competitive on the field. I raise my hat to St. Louis for hiring a 100 more employees. The old shoe box system of many years past will not return a profit in these times of complicated competition. In many ways the Rays maybe ahead of the rest of of MLB. It’s not the Rays who are holding back MLB product. It’s the sum of the weaknesses of all MLB owners that’s holding back baseba

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11 minutes ago, chpettit19 said:

Very few teams are as cutthroat as the Rays are. That's why people bring up how it's bad for the sport. The A's have been doing similar things for far longer, but haven't seen quite the same success. Still successful, though. But most teams listen to their fan bases and don't trade guys sometimes (only reason Buxton is still in a Twins' uni). It hasn't been replicated cuz even teams like the Indians/Guardians who try to replicate it hold onto guys like Kluber and Lindor for slightly too long and don't get the elite prospect returns Tampa has. Tampa is ruthless. They'll trade anyone at anytime. Few owners or front offices have the stomach for that.

My observation is Oakland pioneered, Tampa took it to the next level.

Cleveland, Pittsburg, and Baltimore seem to be trying to emulate, possibly to the ruin of the franchises.

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