Tuesday, October 7, 2008

2008 Rays = 1991 Braves?

That's the case that Scott Miller makes. Well, sorta makes. His larger and more important point is that this Rays team was built through the draft and could win for a long, long time. I agree with the larger and more important point.

The 1991 Braves comparison is a little more problematic, however. Non-Braves fans often forget this, but there was a tremendous amount of turnover on the team between that wonderful worst-to-first year and their World Series championship four years later.

Among everyday players, the only points of continuity between the 1991 and the 1995 Braves teams were David Justice in right field and, to a much lesser extent, Mark Lemke and Jeff Blauser up the middle, though both of them saw the minority of at bats at their respective positions that year and neither started Game 1 of the World Series. As for the pitchers, yes, Glavine, Smoltz, and Avery were there in 1991, but Greg Maddux wasn't. Neither were the championship team's top four relievers, Mark Wohlers, Greg McMichael, Brad Clontz, or Pedro Borbon.

People forget this, but the 1991 Braves had a lot of old guys and retreads who either managed to catch lightning in a bottle, experienced their last hurrah, or at the very least, did no real harm. Guys like Terry Pendelton, Sid Bream, Lonnie Smith, Jeff Treadway, Mike Heath, Jim Clancy, Juan Berenguer, and Charlie Liebrandt (well, Liebrandt did a little harm, but I forgave him for that long ago). It was a team that, if a small handful of things broke differently, could have just as easily finished seven games behind the Dodgers as they finished one game ahead of them.

The Rays, in contrast, look much more like the mid-to-late 90s Braves teams. Like those Braves teams, they have lots of solid, home grown talent. Like those Braves teams, they look like they're set up to win for a long time.

I'm guessing they'll take that, even if that means that they'll only win eleven straight division championships instead of fourteen.


Connor Doyle said...

Curtain rises.

Three Tampa Bay Rays players are sitting in the locker room before a game, huddled around a laptop computer

Garza: Dude, this story is comparing us to the 1991 Atlanta Braves. Sweet; I get to be John Smoltz. Dude was nails, dude.

Bartlett: Yeah, I'll take Blauser. Maybe that means I'll start hitting soon.

Both players look at Iwamura, who has withdrawn from the screen and is glaring at his teammates

Garza: Dude, you don't have to be Lemke ...

Bartlett: ... yeah, you could be, like ... (clearly fumbling for answer)

Iwamura picks up bat, and smashes the computer to pieces.


tHeMARksMiTh said...

I agree about the Rays and their future. Though, I thought the Greg Maddux thing was kind of funny. Anyway, Shields, Garza, and Kazmir are a nice start in that rotation, and adding Wade Davis, David Price, and/or Jeremy Hellickson (even Jake McGee when he gets back from TJ). That's one hell of a rotation. Add the leftovers and Jeff Niemann to the bullpen, or trade one or two for an extra bat or two (someone else think they should Mark Teixeira and split 1B and DH duties with Peña keeping them healthier?) and this team is set for a long time. They'll need more revenue, but this playoff run is making fans who are sure to start coming out more, even if the financial situation gets worse.