Are Rays Buyers or Sellers? To Be Determined Between Now And July 31st

OAKLAND CA - AUGUST 20: Jeremy Hellickson #58 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on August 20 2010 in Oakland California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

And So It Begins.....

In a few brief hours our Tampa Bay Rays will begin their quest for their 4th playoff appearnace in the past 5 seasons by taking on everyones favorite boogeyman team the Boston Red Sox. Currently the Rays have a record of 45-41 and are in 3rd place in the AL East and trail the New York Yankees by 7.5 games. In the hunt for the wild card the Rays trail the Baltimore Orioles by 1/2 game and are one of among 6 teams within 2.5 games of the last wild card spot.

The July 31st non-waiver trade deadline is fast approaching and the Rays, along with many other teams, will have to decide not so much as to whether or not they will be buyers or sellers but whehter or not an additional arm or bat will position the organization better to make a dash at October baseball. In many ways Andrew Friedman has an opportunity to be the driving force behind a team with an obvious need and show that he has the talent to augment a roster mid-season to overcome an obvious deficiency.

The Rays and many other teams outlook on the trade deadline can take a quick turn over the next two plus weeks of baseball. It would not be unrealistic for a team such as the Rays to play solid baseball as July winds down and begin to believe that the AL East title is within their grasp just as it is possible that a stretch of bad baseball could result in Friedman looking to unload a player who another organization may overpay for.

Regardless of what we've heard out of the front office about how the team is going to handle the trade deadline or how long it is going to take for Matt Joyce, Evan Longoria, Sam Fuld, and Jeff Niemann to return, the direction of the team won't be clear until much closer to July 31st.

Joe Maddon on his roster: Interesting that he mentions Longoria despite the negative outlook by Olney

"You can look at the field yourself and see where we might need some more help. Longo comes back and Matt [Joyce] comes back, and Sam [Fuld] comes back, all of a sudden you've got some pretty good acquisitions right there. Rather than try and get somebody, it's more about pinpointing when some of our guys might be well."

"I really don't [think we'll be active]," Maddon said. "Honestly I don't. I don't anticipate a whole lot of anything. Again, my biggest anticipation is getting people well." - mlb.com

Andrew Friedman on the Rays roster:

"Without question, getting our core players healthy will be absolutely critical, and will give us a lift greater than basically any deal we could make," Friedman said. "But we still have to look at every avenue that might help us, and we would never let our injuries become an excuse for not doing that."
"We are always working to identify players who might be able to help us in different scenarios," Friedman said. "As we look at the market, there are often many factors that have to line up for a deal to make sense. Our goal is to be as thorough as we can in exploring the many possibilities, so that we're in a position to act if we see something that might improve our chances." - mlb.com

As Jeremy Hellickson waits to make the first pitch of the 2nd half of the season let's take a moment to look at who the Rays and the rest of the AL East will play as each team tries to determine which direction they need to go.

New York Yankees: 52-33: Lead AL East with best record in baseball.

Home Games: (11): LA Angels (3) Toronto Blue Jays (3), Boston Red Sox (3), Baltimore Orioels (2)

Road Games (7): Oakland Athletics (4), Seattle Mariners (3)

Strength: 15 games against teams currently with a .500 or better record.


Baltimore Orioles: 45-40; Wild Card Leader; 2nd Place AL East 7 games behind New York Yankees

Home Games: (9): Detroit Tigers (3), Tampa Bay Rays (3), Oakland Athletics (3)

Road Games: (9): Minnesota Twins (3), Cleveland Indians (4), New York Yankees (2)

Strength: 15 games against teams currently with a .500 or better record.


Tampa Bay Rays: 45-41; Trail in wild card by 0.5 games. 3rd in AL East 7.5 games behind New York Yankees

Home Games (10): Boston Red Sox (3), Cleveland Indians (4) Seattle Mariners (3)

Away Games (8): Baltimore Orioles (3), LA Angels (3), Oakland Athletics (2)

Strength: 15 games against teams currently with a .500 or better record.


Boston Red Sox: 43-43; Trail wild card by 2.5 games; 4th place AL East 9.5 games behind New York Yankees

Home Games (9): Chicago White Sox (4), Toronto Blue Jays (3), Detroit Tigers (2)

Road Games (9): Tampa Bay Rays (3), Texas Rangers (3), New York Yankees (3)

Strength: 18 games against teams currently with a .500 or better record.


Toronto Blue Jays: 43-43; Trail wild card by 2.5 game; 4th place AL East 9.5 games behind New York Yankees

Home Games (9): Cleveland Indians (3), Oakland Athletics (3), Detroit Tigers (3)

Road Games (9): New York Yankees (3), Boston Red Sox (3), Seattle Mariners (2)

Strength: 15 games against teams with a .500 or better record.


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