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Rays Tales: Deadline dance

Andrew Friedman likes to do deals. The Rays' executive vice president has made nearly 40 trades in his six seasons on the job, involving some relatively big names: Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza, Aubrey Huff, Edwin Jackson, Scott Kazmir, Julio Lugo, Rafael Soriano, Delmon Young. He's not as much into the July 31 deadline deals, making five in the final week of the month, with only one, last year's acquisition of RHP Chad Qualls (after Grant Balfour was hurt), that had a direct impact on the current season. But Friedman takes advantage of the fact that teams are talking to get other things done, even into August, whether it's to dump players they no longer want to have (or pay), such as Huff, Kazmir and Lugo, or to fill needs looking ahead to the next season, such as acquiring relievers Dan Wheeler and Balfour. (And sometimes, July conversations lead to offseason deals, such as the Young-for-Bartlett/Garza trade). Here are the five July/August deals that netted — or as Friedman might say it, net-netted — the Rays the most:

August 2009

The deal: Traded LHP Scott Kazmir to Angels for INF Sean Rodriguez, INF Matt Sweeney, LHP Alex Torres

The result: With the team still on the brink of the wild-card race, the Rays seemed to give up by trading away two-time All-Star Kazmir, saving around $24 million and getting back three minor-leaguers. But they actually got a head start on winning the division in 2010, using some of that savings to add closer Rafael Soriano. (And who knows what this year's $41 million team would look like if they were paying Kazmir $12 million). Plus, two of the three players have panned out: Rodriguez, above, has turned out to be a key player; and Torres just made his big-league debut and will be back.

July 2006

The deal: Traded 1B/OF/DH Aubrey Huff (and $1.6 million) to Astros for RHP Mitch Talbot, INF Ben Zobrist

The result: Huff wasn't coming back, so the Rays used him and some cash to add advanced prospects. Zobrist, above, blossomed into more than they ever imagined, an All-Star with 20-homer power and the versatility to play the infield and outfield. They were right that Talbot could pitch, and win, in the big leagues but didn't do as well in trading him 3½ years later for C Kelly Shoppach.

August 2008

The deal: Acquired RHP Chad Bradford from Orioles for cash

The result: Though a week after the deadline, the acquisition of Bradford, above, was more of a traditional pennant-race pickup. He wasn't a big name, but he made a big difference — with his unique delivery that induced ground balls — down the stretch and into the postseason during the 2008 run. (They tried a similar move the next year with C Gregg Zaun, but it didn't help enough.)

July 2007

The deals: Traded RHP Seth McClung to Brewers for RHP Grant Balfour; traded INF Ty Wigginton to Astros for RHP Dan Wheeler.

The result: The players were traded away for different reasons: McClung because he wasn't going to make it here, Wigginton because he was going to be making too much money. But the targets were similar, to add some depth and experience to the bullpen for the next season, and they got that and more.

Late June 2006

The deal: Traded C Toby Hall, LHP Mark Hendrickson, $1 million to Dodgers for C Dioner Navarro, RHP Jae Seo, OF Justin Ruggiano.

The result: Big picture, this doesn't seem like much, but Navarro — if you can remember — actually was a key piece of the 2008 team that made it to the World Series.

Then again …

Here are three July/August deals that didn't amount to much:

July 2006

The deal: Traded SS Julio Lugo to Dodgers for INF Joel Guzman, OF Sergio Pedroza

The result: Neither Guzman nor Pedroza amounted to much; the Rays would've been better off getting a draft pick.

August 2006

The deal: Traded INF/OF Russell Branyan to Padres for RHP Evan Meek, RHP Dale Thayer

The result: Meek turned out to be good after the Rays lost him in the 2007 Rule 5 draft and let the Pirates keep him.

July 2007

The deal: Traded INF Jorge Cantu, plus Shaun Cumberland and cash, to Reds for RHP Calvin Medlock, LHP Brian Shackelford

The result: The Rays didn't consider Cantu their kind of player, but he showed the next season with Florida (29 HRs) he could still play.

Dance partners

Of Andrew Friedman's 37 trades the Rays list, here are his most common partners:

4: Padres

3: Cubs, Dodgers, Indians

2: Astros, Braves, Brewers, Orioles, Reds

Rays rumblings

That improved curveball Jeremy Hellickson is throwing is the result of some input from fellow RHP James Shields. … Joe Maddon's vision for a new retractable-roof stadium — wherever it's built — includes an interesting idea: an adjacent facility for youth leagues and community events that the roof could slide over to cover. … Even after averaging 25,107 for the seven games with the Red Sox and Yankees, the Rays' average attendance of 19,972 is still 26th in MLB, down more than 8 percent from the same point last year (21,780). The Rays are on a pace to draw 1.62 million, lowest since the Devil Rays days of 2007. … In writing about the Rays potentially trading away big names, Fox's Ken Rosenthal says executive VP Andrew Friedman "can do whatever he pleases without losing popular support — the fans aren't coming, anyway." … ESPN's Buster Olney writes much the same, and that the Rays will consider "bloodless" moves such as dealing Shields and others because they "really don't buy into Hail Marys and fairy-tale finishes."

Got a minute? | Sean Rodriguez

Must-see TV show? Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I've always loved it.

Big-night out meal? Carrabba's. I really love Italian food, and they're not expensive.

Band or singer you'd like to be on stage with? They're Christian rappers that go by the 116 Clique.

Worst job? I was working at Red Berry's Baseball World in Miami, and we had kids 3-4 years old, it was just straight babysitting.

With your wife Giselle's permission, dream date? She knows it, it's Jessica Biel. And hers is Johnny Depp.

Rays Tales: Deadline dance 07/23/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 23, 2011 8:22pm]
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