Throughout the spring Mike Ferrin, of SiriusXM Radio’s MLB Network, is visiting Grapefruit League camps and writing entries on Baseball Prospectus. Ferrin’s latest revolves around the Rays and their attempt to retool again.
Only five teams have won 90 games in a season before losing their team leaders in home runs and innings pitched, according to Ferrin. While most of the cases involved fire sales or overhauls, there are two exceptions that provide comfort, if not burning optimism. The 2003 Braves won 101 games then lost Javy Lopez and Greg Maddux to free agency. They retooled and won 96 games in the following season before doing the whole song and dance again with J.D. Drew and Russ Ortiz. (The 2005 Braves, by the way, still won 90 games—they knew what they were doing.)
Given the shaky long-term status of David Price it’s hard to ignore a potential parallel to those Braves. Fortunately, save a prolonged absence from Evan Longoria, it doesn’t look like the Rays will lose their leading home run-hitter anytime in the near future.