Deep Thought: How the fans of playoff teams feel at the moment

39 Comments

With no games on last night I spent most of the evening screwin’ around on the Internet, trying to start fights on message boards and that sort of thing.  In the course of my virtual travels, I spoke (more or less) with fans of every playoff team.  Based on these conversations, I’ve figured something out:

Fans of every playoff team think that their team sucks. Except for the Phillies, whose fans think they’ve already won the World Series.

It’s pretty uniform, actually. Even Yankees fans, who don’t lack for confidence, are hyper-aware of their team’s flaws at the moment, so much so that they’re bordering on pessimism. Well, that may be putting it too strongly, but the bravado you’ve heard for years from these guys has been infused with an unusually clear-eyed assessment of their team’s strengths and weaknesses.

Same goes for every team, really. For a rare year in which every playoff team is above 90 wins, there just seems to be a lot more pessimism — or is it just realism? — than we’re used to seeing as the playoffs get going.

Except, like I said, for the Phillies crowd. They seem to spending most of their time wondering why everyone isn’t congratulating them for their awesomeness yet.

We’ll be previewing the playoffs later today and into tomorrow. We’ll likely end up agreeing that the Phillies are awesome, but really, this year has more uncertainty to it than any year in recent memory. And that’s a wonderful thing, no?

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a deal, agreeing Wednesday to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year old was among seven Rays who swapped arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings – 51 of them in relief – since he was acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Springs gets $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries can escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. The `25 and ’26 salaries also can escalate based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in `23 and ’24: $2 million for winning, $1.5 million for finishing second through fifth in the voting and $250,000 for finishing sixth through 10th.

Tampa Bay’s option price could escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for winning, $2 million for finishing second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through 10th.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meetings the innings targets and wins two Cy Youngs.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second lowest in franchise history for a pitcher working a minimum of 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled 1.89 ERA on the way to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9, gradually increasing his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week and the Rays remain with the most players scheduled to appear before three-person panels.

Springs had asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Tampa Bay also agreed minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa also were invited to big league spring training.