The more I monitor MLBTradeRumors and actual trades, the more I have to wonder if Andrew Friedman is just too good for his own good. I don't think that teams, especially AL teams, want to deal with AF. He has not been able to pull off many big trades in recent years. When you look at what the Cubs are asking for Garza (as compared to what AF got for Garza) there's really no comparison. Granted there is some hindsight here because Chris Archer had a poor year, but just because Archer was the Cubs' best prospect doesn't mean he was a top prospect. To give an example, the Cubs and Padres are reportedly discussing a Rizzo trade. Although Garza had a better 2011 than 2010, we're talking about a player with two years of arbitration eligibility (less team control time and higher cost than when the Rays traded him). I am sure AF is working hard on the trade front to get us a Rizzo or similar guy, but opposing GMs do not want to be shafted. Again, EJax commanded much more in trades after he left TB.
Other teams are aware of the Rays' immediate offensive needs and our wealth in SP. Yet, everything has been quiet. I think its a game of chicken, less about the numbers here and more about who blinks first. I think that AF has a few reasonable deals on the table, perhaps even ones that are slightly tilted in favor of the other team, but nobody wants to bite because they think AF will have to sweeten the pot. I think that there is some coordination among opposing AL GM's to not conduct business with AF. With the Young and Kazmir deals, AL front offices are probably quite wary of doing business with Friedman. He is the type of guy who gets other GM's fired. Case in point: Cubs, Astros, Twins, and Angels were some of the major trade partners with the Rays over the past seasons. All of the GM's for those teams have been fired.
Here's to AF standing firm on the party line. Don't get restless, don't get angry, and don't lose patience. AF is working his magic by sitting on our wealth, saving us money and providing WAR for next season and the future by refusing to sell low or give in. He is telling other GM's that he will not settle, he will not flinch, and he is willing to go with the team he has (plus some minor FA acquisitions). Moreover, I believe this is probably the truth. Why not hold on to what we have? Why not place Niemann and/or Davis in the pen to start the season? Why not see what the offense can do with the players we have put on the field? Other teams do not have the luxury in terms of SP and defense to run a Reid Brignac, Sam Fuld, and Robinson Chirinos. We do. We can let these guys develop and see what we've got. We do not have to be reactionary and we do not have to succumb to the whims of a fanbase that gets most of its information on baseball from Steve Duemig and/or Jim Bowden. These guys have been proven wrong time and time and time again as all of you know.
So this is kind of a rah-rah piece but I hope that all of you who are groaning about the lack of activity, or hoping for activity in January, get the message. There is no rush to force things. We can contend in 2012 with the team we have because our SP are so solid. Let me put it this way: between Price, Shields, Hellickson, Moore, and Niemann, we could count on at least 18, and perhaps as many as 23, WAR from this staff. It's not crazy. Granted that is no guarantee to happen but I think most here would agree that 1-5 the Rays staff is the best in the AL and possibly in baseball. We'll have the ability to move pieces at the trade deadline when teams are desperate for pitching. We'll be able to get that deal for a Niemann or Cobb or (hopefully) Davis that we feel great about.
There is no need for pessimism over a lack of activity, and there is no reason to blindly hope for activity in January. The later this goes, the better it gets for 2012.
EDIT: Also, I had originally wanted to do some analysis of the "Friedman price" effect but it quickly turned in to a rah-rah post. It was additionally hard to find concrete data on the trades because a lot of the players in the more recent trades are in the minors and so it would just be about minor stats and scout perceptions, etc. If anyone has any analysis of the "Friedman price" effect and its existence or lack thereof I would be really happy to see it.