by Steve Carney / 620 WDAE
The Tampa Bay Rays wrapped up a 2013 season in which they won a combined 94 games with a four-game series defeat to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series. However, manager Joe Maddon believes this season's incarnation of the Rays do not need to feel disappointed with how their season ended.
"I'm really proud of our guys," the Tampa Bay skipper said in Wednesday's postseason press conference. "Faced with elimination as often as we were, they could not have done better."
Executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman indicated injuries to starting pitchers David Price, Matt Moore, and Alex Cobb likely led to the team not winning the American League East this season, but the front office also got see how some of their young prospects fared at the big-league level.
"It was obviously tough with [approximately] 30 starts missed by the top three starters," Friedman admitted. "But on the bright side, we got a look at Alex Colome. We got a look at Jake Odorizzi. We got even a glimpse of Enny Romero."
One guy who missed hardly any time due to injury this season was third baseman Evan Longoria, who appeared in 160 of the team's 163 regular season games, good for fourth in the American League, a year after appearing in just 74 contests due to hamstring issues.
"That's pretty good, and I'll take that every year," Longoria said.
There's plenty up in the air for this offseason, and while Friedman did not want to go in to specifics about any player, two big names that could be playing elsewhere are closer Fernando Rodney and 2012 Cy Young Award winner David Price.
Rodney will be a free agent at the end of the season, and Price, while under team control for two more seasons, will likely get another generous raise from the already team-high $10.1 million he made in 2013.
"Sometimes the decision is taken out of your hands," Longoria said. "I know that if David had his way, he would be here, and if I had my way, he would be here also."
"It's a sad thought," Alex Cobb remarked. "David has really morphed into our go-to leader, our go-to guy that we look to for direction. It's not a thought I want going on all offseason. I really hope they can figure something out and at least squeeze another year out of him, and hopefully even longer."
Reliever Joel Peralta said he hopes both come back, and talked about his relationship with the closer the last two seasons.
"Fernando and I, you know, we're like brothers," the Tampa Bay setup man told reporters. "If he's not here, I'm really, really going to miss the guy. He's one of the best as a pitcher. He's one of the best as a teammate. We've got a great relationship, and I really hope he's back."
And after finally making the playoffs after 17 seasons in the Major Leagues, reliever Jamey Wright said he'll leave the decision on whether to play an 18th year to those closest to him.
"I can't offer myself a contract," Wright joked. "Hopefully the right people were in the room the other day when my 7-year-old said 'Dad I want to be with the Rays again next year.'"
Click below to hear the press conference and all the sound from the clubhouse.
Press conference featuring manager Joe Maddon and executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.
Third Baseman Evan Longoria
Starting Pitcher Alex Cobb
Reliever Joel Peralta
Reliever Jamey Wright
Utility player Sean Rodriguez