The Rays enter today with the 3rd best record in the American league and only 3.5 games behind the BoSox in the American League East and 3 games behind the Yankees for the Wild Card league. The frustration that I am feeling is not just from the Rays fan in me but from the baseball the fan in me.
Last year at this time we were not in first place. We stood in nearly the same spot that we are in today, fighting the Sox and Yankees for the division and Wild Card. We were 2 games behind the Yankees and the Red Sox were only 2.5 games behind us. The AL East and Wild Card races, much like this year, were very close and between the same three teams. The only difference is that no one seems to be giving the Rays a chance and they continue to write them off. It frustrates me to no end. Some moves need to take place.
I am also tired of the division excuse. Yes, because we are in the AL East we have to operate a bit differently than if we were in any other division but I fear that if we were in another division we would not only be on top of that division but making the proper moves to stay at the top. That is just hypothetical, I have no evidence to back that up, but it seems that the fear of the AL East competition always scares us away from making a move even when we have proven to be the competition in the AL East.
Now, I am not talking about trading Matt Moore or any of our other top-tier prospects. Jose Reyes is out if the picture for the Rays and apparently for the rest of the league. But the moves we can currently make from with-in simply are not happening. Echoing Steve again, there is no reason Desmond Jennings should not be up right now. No reason Jake McGee should not be up. I would even say there is no reason Brandon Guyer should not be up. Would those moves alone be enough? Not sure, but it is a start.
The Mets are listening to offers on Carlos Beltran and why wouldn't the Rays call? He would still be owed $6M for the final two months of the season but he is also slated to be a type-A free agent and if the Mets eat most of the money the Rays have the prospect depth to land Beltran without jeopardizing their future.
We could have a J.J. playing short for us and I am not talking about J.J. Furmaniak. What about J.J. Hardy? The Orioles have reached out to him about an extension but only want to limit it to about two years with top prospect Manny Machado possibly being ready for mid-2013. If an extension cannot be done soon they will no doubt shop his services. The market may get a little rich for him but should we not at least try?
I am not the expert on predicting which prospects it would take to get these deals done. I would like to imagine that we could land Beltran and Hardy and still hold on to Moore, McGee, Guyer, Hak-Ju Lee, Desmond Jennings, and Chris Archer but that be a bit naive of me. Would Alex Torres, Alex Colome, Kyle Lobstein, and Tim Beckham be enough to land the two? I think so but, agian, it could be me being naive. If that group of prosepects is considered by many to be too much for rentals may I remind you that we just had an incredibly deep draft and a potential trade of B.J. Upton in the offseason could net a nice package of prospects in return.
The point I am getting at is that we have so many moves we could make. If a team with a decent payroll had the roster and farm system of the Rays the internal moves would have been made and the external moves would be talked about in rumor mills across the blogosphere. Even with the budget restraints I see little risk in harming our future with a trade due to our organizational depth and savvy front office that can replenish the system if we had to trade any prospect outside of Moore, Lee, Jennings, and Archer.
Just one fan frustrated by the lack of moves from a David team that has a realistic shot at slaying two Goliaths.