In response to moonslav59's comment:
While I too think the Rays have built a solid organization and derserve a tip of the cap...It's amazing what you can do when you stockpile draft picks for a decade and then accept corporate welfare to sign them to longterm, team friendly contracts. Enough already with the look what they do on a small market payroll...they recieve a check for more than 30M per year from MLB revenue sharing.
Certainly a small handful of the current Rays' players are a result of having top draft picks year after year, but a huge part of their team was built through trading players just before the declined sharply, signing journeymen free agents who have career or near career high seasons with them, and stockpiling comp draft picks by playing the system better than anyone else.
Teams like the Sox would get roasted if they ever traded away a guy like Shields, Kazmir, Garza, and Bartlett, but those trades are part of what has kept them doing so well while remaining positioned to be good for years to come- even at a low payroll budget.
This team lost Shields, had some key players injured this year, and an off year from Hellickson, and yet they are still one of the best teams in MLB.
Moore was drafted in the 8th round. Cobb in the 4th. Jennings in the 10th. They got Archer and others for Garza, Alex Torres and Sean Rodriguez for Kazmir, Myers and a couple other nice prospects for Shields, and Gomes and Ramos for Bartlett. Edwin Jackson for Matt Joyce. Dietrich for Escobar. Lobaton off waivers from the Padres. Key signings like Loney, Rodney, Kelly Johnson, Molina and others have helped as well.
Yes, Longoria and Price were top picks. Yes, they are a huge part of this team's sucess. But, they are much more than just these two guys.
As I told softy so many times, for so many years, the Tampa Bay Rays will not fade away.
I disagree they will fade away just like the billy beane's money ball a's did. The end begins with Price and soon thereafter when Longoria's deal begins to escalate to market value...take either of them away and the Rays are an 85 win team....take both away and they'd struggle to play .500 ball...paying both market value would force the Rays to make some very tough decisions And they be hard pressed to stay below 100M and field a competitive roster.