What started in Season 10 as a grand dream of multiple World Series titles has come to an end in Tampa Bay.
Branch Vitiello, the centerpiece of Kinsella's most-extravagent-ever free agent spending spree, has been traded.
The Rays were young, cocky and coming off a surprise WS trip in Season 9 (they lost 4-3 to the Giants) when they committed a total of $240MM to Vitiello, Kordell Becker and Matthew Crosby in Season 10 free agency. After losing the WS in Seasons 10 and 11, salary pressures and Becker's spotty performance forced the team to start dismantling. With the ascendancy of Oakland to AL domination and a first-round playoff loss to the Yankees last season, management concluded it was time to re-tool. Crosby's option was declined and Vitiello went on the market.
"We were fortunate to get a good number of strong bids," said GM blanch13. "The White Sox were certainly players and the Red Sox made an impressive offer. Ultimately, we thought Florida's offer of Jim Rowan was the best for our club."
Vitiello went 63-28 in 4 seasons with the Rays, posting sub - 3.00 ERA's in 3 and logging 200+ IP every year. He won the AL Cy Young with the club in Season 10.
With Vitiello moving on to Florida and Blaine Lowry traded to the Dodgers for 3B Luis Flores, the Rays find themselves in the dual unfamiliar positions of having cash and needing pitching. With the FA market for pitching looking slim, it might be a record-setting (in a bad way) year for team ERA. It appears the responsibility will fall to Vic Gonzalez, Placido Santana & co. to slug the Rays to victory this year.