Thinking Through One Trade Deadline Rumor
I am not sure why I am listening to the Major League Baseball rumors and innuendo that is starting to gain steam and filtering out of the 30 MLB front offices and being propelled out at every angle with the MLB Trade Deadline coming quickly. Many of the MLB’s Clubs have already made their July Christmas Lists and are searching to pull off a deal that might make a few heads snap to the side, or defy the odds and gad a sure thing.
This time of the year seems to work deals fast and furious, but unlike the MLB First Year Player Draft, this time of the year has more safeguards, more security, and even more intrigue. And the Tampa Bay Rays are not exception to this looking forward to this time of the year. With the Rays win-loss record in June portraying more of an inverted triangle with their hitting and pitching finally coming down from the heavens to show some sense of normalcy. It is their job now to again separate themselves from the rest of the MLB mortals with a deal out of nowhere.
You can be sure Rays whiz kid Andrew Friedman has a few hidden face cards up his long sleeves and might make a popular trade, or an unexpected one by the end of this month. But this year the Rays could find themselves looking more towards their immediate needs, where in the past, they have tried to stock the Rays farm system with names like minor league pitcher Alexander Torres or slugging third baseman Matt Sweeney. A recent spread MLB rumor that has hit my ears is that the Rays might be willing to part with someone in their outfield mix for a “Fall rental” pitcher who could be that missing piece of the Rays puzzle in 2010.
At no other time in their short existence have the Rays “rented “a player to make a sure handed push towards a Playoff berth, but with the way 2010 is shaking out, maybe the Rays need a tweak or two to legitimize their chances. And the two names being thrown around do have me a bit lusting after the “player to be received” in this rumored trade. But it is not the fact that the rumored player and I share the same first name, but more the fact I have salivated about this guy pitching in the confines of the Trop and in the Rays Carolina blue ever since his old Cleveland squad put him in the pet shop window.
By now you might have guessed that I am talking about Mariners pitcher Cliff Lee, who is currently the guy pushing in Rays pitcher David Price’s back to gain the American League lead in ERA. But what really excited me about his name mentioned is the fact he is an innings eater and a suitable pitcher that would fir the Rays clubhouse persona, plus bring the pitching back up a notch or two instantly.
Most would think Carl Crawford’s name would get pushed into this trade by the Rays, but if the Rays are in contention for the A L East title, then why get rid of a guy who will provide adequate and ample scoring chances and pressure on other team’s defenses. I can be happy with a possible MLB Draft double dose of picks if he walks as a type-A Free Agent
The name to be slotted into the other spot is also not Gabe Kapler, who has shown the heart of a lion in the field, but has the bat of a pitcher so far in 2010. He would have been a great addition to this deal three years ago, but the twilight of Kapler’s career is close. That leaves only a few names…Matt Joyce, Ben Zobrist or B J Upton. The first name might be a good choice, but he has not shown any consistent action in the field or at the plate since leaving Detroit in 2008. Zobrist could have been a addition to this deal if it was for a pitcher that still had a few years of team control, but Lee will be a Free Agent at the end of the World Series.
All fingers will then point to the man that has been a constant Rays scapegoat for the woes and sub sequential bad happenings of the Rays over the last two years. I think the world of Upton, but I am thinking that he would benefit tremendously with a change of scenery. Unlike the Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes trades, this trade would not be made due to attitude or a sense that Upton has already peaked as a hitter. It is being done to provide Upton with a chance to let him reinvent and recharge his confidence in a place that will want him, need him, can embrace his challenges and help him collegian in the Major Leagues.
Sure, this trade might never materialize. It could possible never even see the light of day after this post, but a Upton for Lee trade would help two squads heading in seemingly opposite directions find another firm foundation to step above their current levels of play. The Rays need to stop their ship from sinking right now. Rays fifth starter Wade Davis has been hammered in June ( 0-5). With the consistent pitching of Price and Jeff Niemann, it makes Davis the easy choice for either long relief or a one month stint in the minors before the rosters expand on September 1st.
I like Upton as a player and as a person, but from a business point of view where winning is everything….It is a simple choice. And the addition of pitcher of Lee’s caliber should provide those 3-5 extra wins that might be the deciding factor to a possible Playoff berth or a chance to secure another A L East title. Sometimes hard decision have to be made. Worst thing to happen, Upton comes back and hits multiple Home Runs when the Mariners and Rays meet again in 2010. Best case scenario, Lee helps the Rays win a few more games and secure another Playoff berth. Then we all get to drink some Mumm’s champagne again. Sounds mighty sweet to me.