As Mr. Maniac and R.J. Anderson have already expanded upon, the Rays have remained steady through the MLB trade deadline, opting to hold onto their players rather than make any moves. For us fans, it made for a very boring Tuesday afternoon -- and I'm sad it say, it inspired a tinge of jealousy in me, as I watched on Twitter as fans of other teams got to get excited over trades or, at the very least, the possibility of a trade. There was no such excitement for us Rays fans, and selfishly, it stunk.
If you've been paying attention to my posts and Tweets over the past few weeks, you've likely noticed a weird bipolar nature to my opinions. One day I'm claiming the Rays need to make a deadline deal and that Andrew Friedman's biggest weakest -- if you can call it that -- is that he's too patient. The next minute, I'm agreeing that it's okay if the Rays have a quiet trade deadline, as they're not far enough out of a playoff spot to justify punting. I've flipflopped hard enough to make John Kerry blush.
Even right now, when I think about the Rays trade deadline, I'm torn between two different sides. The rational side of my brain is perfectly fine with the course of action laid out by Andrew Friedman, as the Rays still have one heck of a core for 2012 and 2013, and there was no real need for them to sell or give up on this year. Evan Longoria could be back soon, and if last year taught us anything, it's that we shouldn't sell this team short. It seemed like the trade market for James Shields never developed enough for the Rays to get any offers in the range they were looking, and it's likely B.J. Upton would have brought back a middling prospect at best. Given these options, why not hold on for 2012 and see what this team can do once it gets healthy down the stretch?
And yet, the more emotional side of my brain -- which I like to think is somewhat rational -- is still frustrated. This team faces some long odds if they want to make the playoffs, and even then, it's entirely possible that they will get bounced out early again this year. At what point are the Rays finally going to trade some pitching for offense? I can understand that this team is good enough and deep enough that they don't need to make any trades -- and they certainly don't need a giant team makeover -- but at some point, standing pat begins to feel like a defeatist approach. The Rays didn't trade Upton last year, and now they're stuck with the prospect of letting him walk in free agency for nothing. The Rays may be better in the short term by holding onto players as long as possible, but in the long term, sometimes you need to take on that bit of risk. Sometimes you need to trade players, or else you end up slowly having your talent trickle away. Even in baseball, you can't escape entropy.
The thing is, I don't think either of these positions or opinions are necessarily "wrong." There's no exact correct course forward for the Rays right now, and you can justifiably and logically argue either side of this debate. You can even somewhat believe in both sides -- which I do -- although as a warning, that can then lead to all sorts of awkward internal debates, leaving your wife wondering why the heck you keep spacing out at the diner table and if you're even listening to her. (Whoops.)
For better or for worse, the Rays chose the cautious route of action at this trade deadline. I can't blame them and a part of me likes that, but I also can't help but think that this off-season is going to be big. Important, with a capital "I". It's not a make-or-break sort of thing, but I do think some of the Rays' decisions around their rotation will end up impacting how long they're able to keep their competitive streak going.
In positive news, things are beginning to look up for the Rays. Evan Longoria may be a bit sore, but he's still in a rehab assignment and should -- operative word should -- be back with the Rays before too long. The same goes for Luke Scott and Jeff Niemann. Hideki Matsui and Brooks Conrad are finally both gone, and the Rays even got good news around the whole stadium saga. Attendance has been poor this year, but by not selling, they guarantee that things shouldn't get worse. We all know how well "giving up" gets received by fans...
So. The trade deadline has passed. Moving on. Now it's time to win some games.