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Saturday September 11, 2010 11:17 pm

The divergent paths of the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: MLB,

James ShieldsThe Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays both play in the American League East. The two also have names three words long with rhyming mascots, but beyond that, few similarities exist between the two franchises. Both have battled the best in the AL East, competing with the juggernauts from New York and Boston, but up until the 2008 season, there was little about the Rays and Jays for fans outside of Tampa Bay and Toronto take note of.

Tampa Bay will be forced to separate from at least some of their core players this offseason, such as Carl Crawford and Rafael Soriano, because they simply can’t afford them. It’s a buy low philosophy in Tampa Bay. The Blue Jays, owned by Canada’s largest publishing company Rogers Media, can certainly afford a higher payroll. They just choose to keep the payroll down until they are “ready” to compete in the AL East, which seems to be a startlingly backwards idea. They won’t spend the money until they already have what they need.

Tampa Bay finished last in their division every year except 2003, and received a bunch of high draft picks for it. They kept growing their young players while Toronto’s revolving door of guys not named Vernon Wells was a bane on the franchise’s development. The Gustavo Chacin’s and the Russ Adams’s just couldn’t compete with the James Shields’s and the Rocco Baldelli’s. The result was a completely unexpected World Series appearance for the Rays while the Jays only postseason experience comes via the television.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the Rays and the Jays – and this may be obvious – is their positions in the standings. In head-to-head games since 2007, Tampa has 20 more wins than Toronto. Before 2008, both teams had season after season of disappointing finishes, but Tampa Bay chose to stop complaining about their lot in the AL East and started doing something about it. Unless Toronto decides to use everything they have; and that includes opening up the wallet, they’ll have to put up with the AL East powerhouses and will never play a meaningful September baseball game. Perhaps if they drop the “Blue” from their name, they’ll have some sort of Cinderella-run too.



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