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Jonah Keri On Manny Ramirez's Retirement And The Rays

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Jonah Keri is the author of the recent book on the Tampa Bay RaysThe Extra 2%, and he's always a good one to turn to for analysis of the team. He's got a great take on the news about Manny Ramirez's retirement over at FanGraphs right now, and I definitely recommend checking it out:

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Here's what we do know: The Rays remain in good shape long-term. Unlike the crippling multi-year deals and lost draft picks that turned the Hit Show into catastrophe for the old regime, Manny and Damon were short-term gambles that only had downside for one year. In Manny's case, the team even recovers his modest $2 million salary due to his retirement. The Rays have just $16 million in salary obligations for 2012, plus seven arbitration-eligible players (five of those seven, including B.J. Upton, may well be gone by next year). They own 12 of the top 89 picks in this year's draft, with an extra $2 million suddenly in their pockets to pay top dollar for elite prospects. Longoria still has the most team-friendly contract in all of baseball. An entirely homegrown starting pitching staff should be very productive, and very cheap, for years to come, with Wade Davis‘ recent contract extension only adding to that optimism. As long as the current management team and the army of excellent talent evaluators throughout the organization remain in place, the Rays can contend with their richer divisional foes.

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But it sure as hell won't be easy. While it's great that MLB has progressed to the point that 1.8 million butts in the seats are perceived as a big problem, the Rays might come in well below that much-maligned figure this year if the team struggles to win games. Last year's #5 local TV ratings could similarly take a hit, and sidetrack much of the momentum gained in 2010. The local economy remains in rough shape, and corporate support for the team in the form of season tickets and sponsorships remains a going concern.

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The Rays will rise again. It just might take a while.    

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Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.