Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

It is time for Tampa Bay Rays to be bold once more at trade deadline

ST. PETERSBURG

Ask yourself a question:

Why have the Rays been able to stay competitive in the AL East the past four seasons while possessing a tiny fraction of the resources of the cartels to the north?

The No. 1 reason, naturally, is they have been remarkably shrewd. As much as anyone in baseball, they have exploited undervalued assets to their great benefit.

But that's only part of the story.

Intellect is of little value if you're too scared to put it to use. And that's where the Rays have shined again and again.

They weren't afraid to trade Delmon Young the season after he drove in 93 runs as a 21-year-old. They weren't afraid to trade Edwin Jackson the season after he tied for the team lead in victories. And they weren't afraid to trade Scott Kazmir and Matt Garza, too.

They have been aggressive. They have been brazen. They have been daring.

And now, it is time for the Rays to be bold once more.

Against all odds, the Rays have remained in contention this season after trimming the roster of their seven highest-paid players from 2010. They have survived April's horrible start, Evan Longoria's season­long slump and Manny Ramirez's CVS account.

They have gotten to the second half of the season still within sniffing distance of the American League wild card.

And that is why they should be more aggressive than ever before when it comes to the nonwaiver trade deadline in two weeks.

The end of July has passed the previous three seasons without the Rays making much of a splash in the trade market. And with two division banners hanging from the catwalks at Tropicana Field, it's hard to argue with the results.

But there is an opportunity this season that is not guaranteed for 2012, no matter how fertile and deep the farm system is today.

Quite simply, the Rays are good enough to catch the Yankees. It doesn't mean they will. It doesn't even mean they should. But the potential is there, and that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Tampa Bay has the starting pitching capable of staying in contention, and New York's roster has just enough creaking and groaning to make you wonder if it is vulnerable.

So what does all of that mean in practical terms?

Well, it certainly does not mean they should give up Jeremy Hellickson or Matt Moore if that is the cost for a high-profile rental such as Carlos Beltran or a season-and-a-half's worth of Hunter Pence.

And it doesn't mean they make a trade simply to appease voices such as mine, if the chances of moving the needle seem remote.

But somewhere in the middle is the possibility of increasing 2011's odds without doing irreparable harm to the future.

So where do the Rays begin?

Forget about catcher. It has been a black hole offensively this season, but the Rays are not going to get a frontline guy in July. Ditto for shortstop because Jose Reyes is not worth the prospects he will cost.

That leaves leftfield and the bullpen. And there are possibilities in either spot.

Beltran and Pence are at the high end in the outfield, and Jeff Francoeur and Laynce Nix are closer to the bottom. In the middle is a Josh Willingham or a Michael Cuddyer.

Willingham would be a downgrade defensively, and Cuddyer might not be available if the Twins decide they are contenders, but either of those guys would provide the right-handed power missing in the lineup.

In the bullpen, Toronto has a handful of relievers (Jason Frasor, Jon Rauch and Octavio Dotel) capable of pitching in the eighth inning and with palatable contract options in 2012. Bringing back Grant Balfour might be another possibility.

Obviously, much of this depends on what other teams are seeking in return. Even with another arm in the bullpen or another bat in the lineup, the Rays are not guaranteed of running down the Yankees. So that has to be weighed when making a choice.

But the Rays are close enough to contention to be willing to take a risk. A calculated risk. An educated risk. A measured risk. But a risk, nonetheless.

For the fear is the Rays become a newer version of the A's, a small-revenue team that was forever in contention but never quite good enough to grab the brass ring.

That's why, when you are close enough to the post­season to smell it, you have to be willing to sacrifice to get there. And the people in uniform in the Rays clubhouse believe the opportunity is there in 2011.

So it's time for the Rays to do what they do best. Be sharp. Be savvy.

Above all else, be bold.

It is time for Tampa Bay Rays to be bold once more at trade deadline 07/16/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 16, 2011 11:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jose De Leon sent back to minors after helping Rays win

    Blogs

    RHP Jose De Leon worked 2 2/3 innings to get the win in his Rays debut Monday and then was optioned back to Triple-A Durham.

    De Leon was brought up to provide length and depth in the bullpen after the Rays played 15 innings on Sunday, and he did that, allowing three runs on four hits while throwing 69 …

  2. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Rangers game

    The Heater

    The Rays had good reason to have faith in RHP Erasmo Ramirez starting Monday after closing Sunday based on his resiliency, versatility and efficiency. But it still turned out to be a bad idea as he allowed four runs without getting through three innings.

  4. Rays journal: Dugout bench becomes bed for Logan Morrison at end of long night

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays found creative ways to get through the physical and mental fatigue of the 6½ hours they spent playing — and ultimately winning — Sunday's game in Minnesota.

    Corey Dickerson drapes towels over an exhausted Logan Morrison in the dugout during the 15th inning of Sunday’s marathon victory.
  5. Rays at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. Tuesday, Arlington, Texas

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Rangers

    8:05, Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 2: Nick Martinez #22 of the Texas Rangers poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium on March 2, 2015 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)