The St. Pete City Council deadlocked – an appropriate term – 4-4 on a vote to allow the Rays to search the area for a new stadium site. Actually, that vote doesn’t sound all that bad. Flip one person, and Tampa Bay can go window shopping. Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg has supposedly scheduled a meeting with Mayor Bill Foster for mid-February to discuss the stadium issue.
That’s enough of the potentially negative. This is Thursday, and I can see the weekend from here. Therefore, I’d rather look at things a bit more positively. When James Shields was traded, some believed it was the end of the Rays as we know them.
I’m a big Shields fan, but I realized two things: first, Tampa Bay needed to deal him to be sure they didn’t come up empty when he left. He was going to command too much money for them to hang onto him. Secondly, teams that are as successful as the Rays have been the past several years don’t just make moves without having success in mind. They got Wil Myers, an intriguing minor league outfielder and good young arm in righty Jake Odorizzi and two more promising prospects. Third, while they were getting some good young talent, the Rays have some pretty good young talent themselves on the cusp of major league success, starting with Chris Archer who showed occasional brilliance and overall toughness.
I’m looking for good things this season in the Tampa Bay area. Luke Scott appears to be fully healthy, and if so, will greatly improve the lineup. Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson bring more offense to the team, with Johnson giving the Rays flexibility at second base. And what about Wil Myers? Put him in the mix, and the lineup could be far more effective than last season.
As I type this, James Shields is on the MLB Network. He’s being asked what he’ll take to K.C. from Tampa. His answer? A winning mentality. Shieldsy certainly has it, and so do the Rays.