Game On…with Rob Kriete – DECEMBER GO


Remember the legend, Kenny Rogers? No, not the journeyman lefthander who once gave the Braves a walk-off base-on-balls to end a playoff series. I’m talking about the Gambler himself, country-music Hall-of-Famer Kenny Rogers. A lyric as well-known as Kenny himself states, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, And know when to run.” As a Major League Baseball team, the Tampa Bay Rays implement this strategy more than any other club and did so again this week when they traded former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell to the San Diego Padres.

Even with several years of team control, the Rays chose to “fold ‘em” on Snell who sports an impressive repertoire of pitches but doesn’t pitch deep into games. Perhaps the Rays, known for their stellar work with pitchers, know better than others as to why Snell is pulled often before the sixth inning or 100 pitches, including his last game as a Ray where he pitched spectacularly into the sixth inning of World Series Game 6 against the Dodgers. Nonetheless, after only 73 pitches he was removed from the game. Once again, the Rays write the book on knowing when to hold and when to fold on most pitchers.

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The process of producing young, talented pitchers and then trading them once their salaries begin to increase through annual arbitration has kept the Rays competitive without matching other team’s high payrolls. Tampa Bay has now traded Snell and “walked away” from Charlie Morton, begging the question as to whether the Rays can compete in 2021. Yet, by 2022, some of their new young arms could be ready to make another run. This process of churning through pitchers has been the Rays organization’s hallmark and keeps the team successful most seasons with the annual potential to be a legitimate contender, as was the case in the truncated 2020 season.

It might not always be super-fun as a Rays fan seeing some great young players used like cards in a hand of poker, but it has proven to produce results. Sometimes we all need to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em!

Cheers to a great 2021!

Happy New Year!
Be safe!