I can understand the Josh Hamilton rule 5 dilemma. Couldn't have predicted what he would do. I can understand trading Edwin Jackson. How many years can you wait for a guy to show his upside on a consistent basis when he's also getting ready to enter arbitration. No, the Rays FO first mistake came at this trading deadline.
Players were available. Impact players. A reigning Cy Young. An impact bat. One of the best arms of the decade. Another impact bat. Contenders made their moves. The Rays stood pat.
Should the Rays have gotten any of these guys? No. Holliday maybe coming into this season, but he was also out of our price range and that makes sense. But there's two very important pieces not mentioned:
The Cliff Lee trade was almost comparable to the Lakers getting Pau Gasol for a small bag of beans, and maybe a jack nicholson autograph. A reigning Cy Young winner who was under contract for next season at a rate we were only paying Scott Kazmir? The Phillies gave up less for Lee than the Brewers did for a rental of Sabbathia.
Even the Twins made a deadline deal. This is the same thing as Vince Vaughn in The Legend of Ron Burgendy saying "even the guy who doesn't speak said something." Someone check on Terry Ryan. He should be put on suicide watch.
Does it make sense for the Rays to do a rental? Not at the cost of prospects for a team that has minimal financial means. But when you can get an impact player that can affect your ability to win for two seasons? At some point you have to be willing to take a chance. At some point you have to look at your opponents and when you identify their weaknesses, you have to take advantage of them.
The Yankees are again good. They will win the division this year. Boston? They have weaknesses. Bullpen? shaky, even Papelbum has had his moments recently. Starting rotation? Weak at the end. Lineup? Many holes. The Wild Card? Rays had a chance and a greater chance with a little help.
Instead they let Boston improve their chances. Not only did they not improve themselves, but they allowed one of their chief Wild Card competitors to improve themselves.
What's more is when you look at the cost. The Phillies didn't give up Kyle Drabeck or even Happ. Boston didn't give up Clay Bucholz. For a recount, that's last year's World Series winner and ALCS runner-up improving themselves. The Rays? As the Times so eloquently put it, we got Pat Burrell.
Somewhere along the way, you have to be willing to make changes. Neither one of these players would have made much in the final third of this season. They could have even put the money they allotted to Jason Isringhausen and paid either one of these players without adding more to payroll.
This is why we have a front office! When a team is floundering and maybe some decisions when, made at the time were good and the right decisions, but haven't executed the way you planned, this is why we have a trading deadline. And instead of strengthening themselves, by not putting up the right offer, they allowed other contending teams to strengthen themselves, not just for this year, but also for next.
Either one of these players was worth Wade Davis and Reid Brignac. The Rays still have Jeremy Hellickson in AAA. They have Sonny who was just called up. And a new wave of arms in A that will be moving up next year. Yes, Victor Martinez isn't a good defender...but neither has Navarro this year. And you can alternate him between C/DH/1B. But even more so, Cliff Lee made a lot of sense. He was the poor man's Roy Halladay, and a damn good one.
Maybe they wanted more than Davis and Brignac. Maybe there's more to the picture than we are seeing. But we can only go by what we see. When we see what the Phillies and Sox paid, it seems like some sick, twisted joke.
And sadly, the joke's on us.