Today is the day that the Rays brass shows if they think we have the pieces to contend, or might need to tweak the lineup a bit to win it all.
Trade Deadline deals can be for many reasons. They can be to dump a salary player, to get prospects and players for 2009, or could just be a internal move to upgrade a pitching or hitting group for a playoff run.
In the last 24 hours, we saw our rival Yankees upgrade even further by getting a quality catcher to boost their offense. They up graded their absent leftfield situation, and got a lefty reliever that can be “light’s out” at times.
The Boston Red Sox have not done anything spectacular, but we have 24 hours before they have to atone to their fan base as to why they are buyers or sitters on the trading market. The Toronto Bluejays have been a darkhorse in a few of the Rays deals. They are currently looking at Pittsburgh’s Jasin Bay, and might just pull him out from under our radar.
This time of year can be hit or miss for any team. And with the Rays’ renewed “Wall Street Smarts” configuration for determining if a player is right for our style, just like a stock, it can be a risky move to sit instead of play your hand. I think the Rays have been cautious to the point of moot in the deadline deals.
We have lost out on a few guys we had on our radar. Maybe the computer printouts and future projections show that these players were not worth the prospects. Maybe the projections on the printouts show a downward spiral after August we do not know about, or maybe it is just “Andrew, being Andrew.”
Andrew Friedman has gotten the reputation as being a very intelligent playmaker in the markets, both in stocks and in MLB commodities. He is calculated and analyses situation to the betterment of the teams’ present and future. But sometimes you got to go with a “gut reaction” here in this high pressure, limited time deadline.
With that in mind, Andrew, let them have a Jeremy Hellickson, or a Wade Davis if it will make us better for more than 1 year. We are very pitching deep, but have a shallow pool for corner right-handed hitters and proven outfield prospects.
We missed out on Xavier Nady, who was a better fit for us than Jason Bay, but that might just be a judgement call by my personal gut feeling. Maybe we can have our own 3-way deal with Atlanta and get our corner guy (Bay), their lefty reliever (Ohlman) and they get some great future players in return.
We do have a great amount of prospects that will be stockpiled with nowhere to go in the next few years. Maybe it is time to jettision some of the bulk and make the minors an easy flow again.
But then again, I play the Lotto every week in hopes of a miracle quick-fix every Sat. and Weds night too.
Carlos Pena has been on fire lately at the plate. He has awoken his home run swing and been consistantly on base for the last month since coming off the DL. The Rays need this guy to be up to the challenge if we are to make a realistic run at the playoffs this year. And Pena has responded like a champion.
Coming into today contest, Pena has just concluded a streak of 30 straight games reaching base for the Rays. In this series, he has had a bit of trouble getting started, but has responded with key plays on defense and timely hits to hit .318 on this roadtrip, with 3 homers,2 doubles and 5 RBI’s.
Pena connected for his 18th homer of the season today in the 4th inning. Pena now has 64 homers over the last two seasons to take the Rays 2-year homer mark away from Aubrey Huff. Pena’s power will be needed in the next 8 weeks to help the Rays keep pace in the AL East.
For months I have heard the outcry that Edwin Jackson does not belong in the rotation. That it would be better to put him in the Bullpen and let some in Durham get their shot. But I also think those people are the ones who are buying all that expensive 8 dollars beers and spilling them when something good happens on the field at Rays games.
Seriously, here is a guy who is now 7-7 on the year. Has battles back from a losing record last season and started the year 2-0 for the Rays. Hete is a pitcher who now has 3 wins in his last 8 starts.
Jackson is 2-1 in his last 6 starts, and has aloowed 3 earned runs or less in 5 of those starts. No other Rays p[itcher can say that besides Matt Garza. And he has a 3.71 road ERA, the best on the team this year.
Jackson is currently 7-7, with a 4.20 ERA, with 68 strikeouts. Now his strikeout totals are down this year, but his ERA and win totals are better, and his control is improving every game. To make a better point, last season, Jackson was 2-10, with a 7.0 ERA at this point in the season, and did not get his 5th win until Sept 23rd. He is 2 past that so far this season.
Jackson allowed 2-runs on 7-hits while pitching 5 innings. The only negative right now on Jackson is that he is not pitching deep into the ballgame for the Rays. But then again, they pulled him after 86 pitches in the contest today.
Carl Crawford is beginning to heat up also for the team. For this team to be in the heat of the battle every night, Crawford needs to be on base to get better pitch selections for Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena.
With Carl on base, the opponent has to be worried about a base stealing mater taking their team out of the game early. Today Crawford had his 4th triple in 5 games to give him 9 on the season, and move him into the AL lead. He has now hit safely in the last 5 games, going 8-20, with a double, 4 triples and 3 RBI’s. the only concern is the point he has now gone 27 games without a home run for the Rays.
With the win today, the Rays will conclude this road trip by winning 4 out of 7 games. Before the second half of the season, Rays Manager Joe Maddon commented that it might take a .500 road record the rest of the year to get them into playoff consideration. I am not as optimistic as Maddon in this figure. With the Rays still 5 games under .500 on the road this year, I think they will have to win 6 out of 10 to put themselves in good playoff shape.
But then again, you have to hope that their homestand this week is a hugely success and takes some pressure off the road woes.
To add to the road woes is a rough and difficult upcoming Wect Coast tour of 10 games in 11 days, before coming home for 3 games against the MLB-best L A Angels. The next 14 games will be a true test and barometer of the Rays chances this post-season. If they struggle or flinch too much, the playoff might be in 2009’s plans.
The Rays again did not hit that 10 hit plateau, getting 9 for the day. So as of today, the Rays have only gotten 10 hits once in the last 21 games. The good news is that they have won 4 of those last seven, and have won 9 of those last 21 games.
All eyes will be on the ESPN television telecasts, or online website like MLBTradeRumors.com today to see what deals, spoilers and failed attempts by clubs show their faces today. The Rays have always had a policy of silience in confirming or denying a trade or play in action with another club.
My perdiction is a Jason Bay incident where the Red Sox/Marlins deal falls apart and they know we have the deal on the table for the outfielder.
Who we give up is a major thing here. Hopefully Andrew opens the talen wallet a bit and give them what they need to secure Bay. He is an upgrade for the batting order, and could be the missing piece we have needed this year.
And the best point is, we will have Jason Bay for another year, not just a 3-month rental, with an option to buy. Tampa Bay is finally in a buyers’ market, and we have to make a good showing to make the league want to make deals with us. Chuck LaMar sometimes made deals just to make a deal……..Andrew is smarter than that………….I hope.