The Rays leave after Thursday's game and don't return until after the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline. Could that make this the last week playing at the Trop for some big names that are rumored to be available?
|WHY DEAL?||WHY NOT?|
|CF B.J. Upton||Will make more than $7 million in 2011. … Recurring lapses in field and on bases. … Hasn't done long-term contract. … Has high value to some other teams.||Rare talent could be, finally, coming together. … Hard to take 15 HRs, 51 RBIs out of power-starved lineup. … No ready replacement (including Desmond Jennings) sure to be as impactful in '11 or '12.|
|RHP James Shields||Value high given unexpected bounceback season thus far. … 2012 option hikes salary to $7 million. … Quality starting prospects in pipeline. … Turns, shudder, 30 in December.||2011 season could be start of strong run. … $7 million not bad for an ace. … Adds intrinsic value as staff leader. … Doesn't turn 30 until December.|
|RHP Kyle Farnsworth||Value maxed given surprising success as closer. … Could be classic buy-low, sell-high Rays move.||A bargain at $2.6 million, could be again with $3.3 million 2012 option. … Reduces offseason shopping list. … Can be used as setup man.|
|RHP Jeff Niemann||Salary to exceed $2 million next season. … With prospects coming, might be "most expend able" of current starters. … Inconsistency suggests selling high.||With Wade Davis on DL again, depth could be fleeting (ie., Andy Sonnanstine starting September showdown). … Upside still significant.|
|DH Johnny Damon||Highest-paid player at $5.25 million. … Limited power in DH spot, limited durability in field. … At 37, might not fit in 2012 plans.||Sparks offense with professional at-bats, clutch hits. … Provides clubhouse leadership. … Experience needed down stretch.|
Other possibilities: RHP Joel Peralta, RHP Juan Cruz, 1B Casey Kotchman
The Rays will host the Mets, Braves and Marlins and make interleague visits to the Phillies, Nationals and Marlins under the initial draft of the 2012 schedule. … Rays' TV ratings through the All-Star break were down an MLB-most 37 percent from the same point in 2010, according to Sports Business Journal, though still at middle-of-the-pack 3.46. … Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice on Twitter increased the chances of executive VP Andrew Friedman leaving to become Astros GM from 15 to 51 percent based on undisclosed "new information." … OF Sam Fuld was left to sit awkwardly in the corner of ESPN's set during the Home Run Derby show, but he did score sweet tickets to the All-Star Game. … LHP Matt Moore was all the rave at the Futures Game, with ESPN's Jason Grey calling him "the most impressive arm" and Baseball America's Jim Callis saying he had "better pure stuff" than David Price and looked major-league ready now. … ESPN's Keith Law moved Moore from 16th to second on his list of the game's top prospects, SS Hak-Ju Lee from 49th to seventh and OF Desmond Jennings from 20th to eighth.
Got a minute? B.J. Upton
Must-see TV? The Vampire Diaries
Musician you'd like to be on stage with? Lil Wayne
Worst part of having a brother in the big leagues? Hearing all the time that he's better, every stadium we go to.
Ideal vacation spot? Somewhere in the islands.
Dream date? Nina Dobrev, from The Vampire Diaries.