Rays Season Wrap Baseball Neander (copy)

Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash, right, speaks to the media as then senior vice-presidents of baseball operations Chaim Bloom, left, and Erik Neander, center, look on during a season ending baseball news conference Oct. 2, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Under E-3 Dick Monfort, Greg Feasel and Bill Schmidt, the Rockies’ slogan for the second half of the season should be: “We’re Not As Bad As Everyone Thinks.”

Even if they are, especially when they dump players up to July 30.

The Rox will lose 90 games or more for the ninth year in franchise history and finish fourth for the 10th time. They are on pace to win fewer than 20 games on the road for the second successive season, but, then, they played only 60 games in 2020.

Monfort, Feasel and Schmidt have a combined 71 seasons with the club. At the current rate, that’s the same number of victories the Rockies will accumulate, as they did in 2019.

They don’t expect ever to become the Dodgers, or the Giants or now the Padres.

The Rockies do aspire to be the Rays, which they could be.

The franchise has only one all-star — pitcher Germán Márquez. Where did he come from? Tampa Bay signed him as an international free agent in 2015.

If Monfort is smart for a change, the co-owner or chairman of the board of a chain restaurant, an office-condo-hotel-sports bar complex, a health company and a university, and who dabbles in baseball, will reach out of the Rox organization and steal two executives from one of Major League Baseball’s most creative and overachieving franchises.

The Rays are a shining light despite having one of the game’s lowest annual payrolls, the worst stadium and probably the worst fan base except for Dick Vitale.

Yet, since 2008, the Rays have won 90 or more games seven times, been in the postseason six seasons and advanced to the World Series twice, including last season when they lost to the Dodgers in six games. They are forced to confront the Yankees and the Red Sox in the American League East. However, they are 55-39 (through Monday) in 2021 and in second place with another chance to make the playoffs.

Monfort says he can’t afford to chase the expensive free agents, and the Rockies complain about competing in a difficult division and the effects of performing in a unique situation at a mile above sea level in a ballpark that has an outfield that has the most acreage in baseball.

Monfort praises his franchise’s draft-and-develop philosophy.

According to all evaluations, the Rockies have one of the three worst prospects list in baseball. Schmidt, named interim general manager May 3 to replace whatshisname, has been vice president of scouting since 2007.

Meanwhile, the Rays have been judged in 2020 and again in ’21 to possess the No. 1 minor-league composition of players.

Obviously, Marquez wasn’t the only international player the Rays signed, and they’ve been extraordinary in drafting players and trading for veterans while keeping the players’ salaries quite affordable. This season, including the injured list and held-over salaries, the total payroll is $74 million.

Besides, the Rays play in Tropicana Field, where triples and rats go to die in the outfield and on the catwalks.

The Trop flop is like a Costco warehouse or a 1940 airplane hangar in the middle of nowhere and virtually impossible to get to. Some believe that the Rays would be better off playing in St. Petersburg, Russia, than St. Petersburg, Fla., and multitudes of people in Tampa really don’t care.

Imagine if the winning Rays had a Coors Field-type ballpark in downtown Tampa and a Rockies’ payroll of $116 million.

But the Rays are led by a talented executive team, an outstanding analytical department and a sharp scouting staff.

The Rox have none of those qualities.

A significant problem is that Monfort knows nothing about other teams in baseball on and off the field. That’s why he promotes Feasel, lacking in baseball acumen, and journeyman Schmidt rather than interview outsiders with baseball expertise.

Erik Neander, Rays vice president of baseball operations and general manager, should be lured to Colorado, at whatever the price, as Rox CEO, and Bobby Heck, Neander’s special assistant who spent years developing the Astros as director of scouting, as GM. The pair are highly respected, brilliant baseballers, not flunkies.

Instead, the Rockies will continue to believe mistakenly they are “not a farm system for other teams’’ and aren’t “as bad as people made us out to be.’’

Schmidt's own slogans.

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