Results tagged ‘ Trade Deadline ’

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.

And the Rays name to possibly be sent towards the Emerald City in exchange for Lee might not be the logical choice, but it would be one that would solidify their outfield situation plus show their superstar Ichiro that the team is serious about rebuilding now with an eye on contending in 2011.

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.

Recent Seattle-Cleveland-Tampa Bay Trade Rumors


Steve Nesius / AP

Usually when I get a call at 5 am EST in involves the following items: money, a bail bondsman, or a ride somewhere. But this ring tone told me it was from a far away source, a pretty good drive and leap away. It came from the west coast, and in Seattle it was only 1 am PST in the morning. So with a million things racing through my mind that could be wrong for this person to be calling me at this time, baseball was not very high on the list at that hour.

So I answered the phone to a loud scream of : “Tell me it is true, Frickin (I cleaned the language up) tell me this is a true rumor. you see, while most of us were sleeping on the east coast, the websites and the bloggers on the other side of the country were just getting settled into their homes after a blowout by the Cleveland Indians over the Mariners. So as they were driving home or even listening online to the M’s flagship radio station KIRO 710 AM was spilling out some fodder that the Rays, Tribe and M’s had something cooking on the back burner.

So I decided to check my first reliable source by popping onto the website and seeing if the bloggers had gotten a hold of such a rumor. Now I was not even aware of the players involved yet, but I did have reason to believe the two coming to the Rays would be the hot and much wanted starter Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez.

And so I hit the M’s blog section and was greeted by the following headline: “Potential huuuge deal w/M’s, Tribe and Rays”. What was so amazing is that at this time two of the team involved in this trade were currently in a 3-game series in Seattle. What was even more amazing was the 4 other players linked to this rumor. The Seattle side of the equation had former starter/reliever/closer and current Triple-A player Brandon Morrow and back-up catcher Jeff Clement going to the Indians.

Ted S. Warren / AP

On the Seattle side of the trade aspect they were getting rid of a pitcher who needed a change of scenery and who could re-invent himself correctly with his next team. The M’s had used Morrow in every pitching situation and never let him get totally settled into one segment of their pitching staff.  Clements was another guy who was stuck behind two starters and was learning to play first base to get his bat into the line-up down in Triple-A. He had played for the M’s in both 2007 and 2008, but lost out this season to back-up Rob Johnson because of his MLB experience.

Both guys needed a break from the M’s way of doing business, and the trade route seemed like the perfect answer. But because the Rays needed a third party to get some of the needed pieces to Cleveland like a catcher and a quality pitcher who could assume any spot, both Clements and Morrow were perfect candidates for the possible trade. But what had the M’s bloggers all giddy and excited. What member of the Rays might have fallen into their laps and gotten such a great response.

Chris O’Meara / AP

Well, the Rays were willing to send left-handed starter Scott Kazmir and shortstop prospect Reid Brignac to the Emerald City. But early on in this trade situation, some wires did get crossed, and some mixed signals did get thrown out over the web. At one point this afternoon, Tampa Tribune sportswriter Marc Lancaster had to get some needed information to calm the Rays faithful. Here are a few of his Tweets from Sat to explain the Brignac episode:

@TBORays “Reid Brignac pulled from Durham game before top of third inning. Definitely a potential trade chip, so something might be up”

@TBORays From what I can gather, doesn’t sound like a trade is imminent with Brignac. Still not sure why he’s out, though.

@TBORays Word from Durham is Reid Brignac was pulled from the game for not hustling to first base.

@TBORays Per Durham manager, Reid Brignac will play 2nd game today. Right leg was bothering him.

So after that I decided to do some detective work and see if was sporting any interesting gossip. But all was silent on the Indians local papers website and in the blog regions. Hopefully by morning we will know more about what might be going on with this entire situation. But before I go, let me also let you in on some of the speculation coming from another source in the Seattle area.

Brian Blanco / AP

It seems that Geoff Baker, who writes for the Seattle Times also had gotten wind of this potential trade. So I wandered over to wwwseattletimes.nwsource/marinersblog and took a look at what he was saying about the potential trade. Here is a small sampling of his take on the whole trade situation concerning all three teams:

“Here’s something to think about, completely my speculation right now, but showing you how this stuff works. Let’s say there really was a three-way deal in the works between Tampa Bay, Cleveland and the Mariners and that Zduriencik was going to acquire Brignac and Scott Kazmir in a deal that would send Brandon Morrow, Jeff Clement and pocket change to the Indians. Maybe the M’s were all set to pull the trigger and that’s why Brignac was pulled.”

That does make sense, but also what make more sense to me is that Scott Kazmir needs a fresh start somewhere. I can see him having a 2010 that would rival Edwin Jackson’s current season up in Detroit. Sometimes you just need to get away and let the stress flow to begin again. And that is what both Kazmir and Brignac need right now. Solid foundation and a chance to play again at their top levels. For Kazmir to be away from Rays Pitching Coach Jim Hickey might be the best medicine for him right now.

He has not gotten the program fully that Hickey is trying to teach in Tampa Bay. Kazmir was a success here  ion Tampa Bay before Hickey was hired in November 2006. His style is more centered on “contact” or spot pitching sytle to minimize offensive damage. It is not a system Kazmir can not learn, it just takes away from his power pitching side and makes him rely on location and change of speed on his pitches. 

Brignac is stuck behind a log-jam that is only going to get more crowded at Triple-A, and this opportunity would give him more of a chance to show his stuff at the major league level. With current shortstop Jason Bartlett hitting over .350, and back-up Ben Zobrist becoming the super uber sub of the American League, Brignac is stuck waiting for a chance because of injuries and not abilities. In Seattle he would have a chance to show his stuff and even get noticed by other teams the rest of the season.

And last, but not least is the upgrade the Rays would get with a quality catcher who can also hit for average and power that is currently lacking in Tampa Bay. Sure there might have to be some attitude adjustments before Martinez comes to show he is here for the team and that his “Old Man” comment to Rays Manager Joe Maddon was just in the heat of battle. But the pitching upgrade of Lee could easily be the difference in getting a chance at a playoff spot in 2009.

Duane Burleson / AP

And if all else fails and it is not a success, you know teams will be eager to entertain a trade with the Rays for Lee in the offseason if they feel he is not a solid fit to the rotation for the team. But I still do not see this happening without a single Rays farm system player going to Cleveland. The guy that has been mentioned most in trade chatter has been pitcher Wade Davis. But like Kazmir and Brignac, he has been  a bit stymied the last season waiing for his shot at the MLB level.

No matter what happens between now and the end of the trade deadline, you can be sure you will hear more of these names flashed around on the bottom of your television screens. The tell-tale sign of something brewing behind the scenes in Seattle might be if Cliff Lee doesn’t start on Sunday against the Mariners. If this happens, it is a fair indicator that someone might be making a huge push at getting the former Cy Young leftie for their own……..hopefully in Tampa Bay.


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