I've seen this act before. A front office that's not in a hurry to make a trade to improve an offense before gauging the teams actual needs after their injured players return to the lineup. The team was the 2011 Cleveland Indians and the waiting game lasted deep into the summer and the teams offense never truly got whole. Once one player returned from injury another went down or when a player seemed ready to return a setback or different injury would strike the player. The Rays have the injuries as an excuse to their anemic offense and they certanily don't have the horses to consistently put runs on the board nor do they have the ability to withstand 0 for way too long slumps from Luke Scott.
As the Rays head into the All-Star break it's time for the front office to strike and make moves that will enhance not only the team's chances of winning now but improve their depth when and if the team returns to full strength. Continuing to wait for Joyce and Longoria to mend may eventually turn the Rays from competitive participants for a playoff spot to a team looking to find value in the few pieces they have to sell at the trade deadline.
Andrew Friedman recently spoke on MLB Network Radio (audio link) and said about tweaking the Rays roster (specifically referring to a question about trading B.J. Upton): "that because of where we are and who we are we have to manage the roster with one eye on the present year and one eye on the future and so if things line up that make us better in the current year and make us better in future years of course you'd have to do that'."
With the trade deadline looming and the aforementioned uncertainty of the health of Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce, the Rays should be looking to add depth to the infield (Rays Trade Target: Marco Scutaro) and the outfield. WIth a record of 34-50 the San Diego Padres are open for busines and have several players that will draw much interest including Chris Denorfia, Nick Hundley, Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin, and Huston Street. Of this group of players the one that fits the Rays mold and needs is outfielder Chris Denorfia.
Chris Denorfia will turn 32 on July 15th and has played parts of 7 major league seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, Oakland Athletics, and San Diego Padres. Acquiring him would not be a one and done acquisition nor will it cost the Rays a great deal of money since he currently is under contract for only 1.17 million in 2012 and is under team control for one more year o' arbitration (free agent following the 2013 season).
He is a right handed hitting outfielder who is capable of playing all three outfield positions and hits LHP well. In his career he has posted a slash line of .281/.346/.407 with a wRC+ of 111 and a wOBA of .331. Currently, he is having a solid season, posting a slash line of .306/.365/.443, a wRC+ of 129, and a wOBA of .352. In his career against LHP he is hitting .310/.378/.423, a wRC+ of 125, and a wOBA of .352. In 2012 against LHP he has posted a slash line of .326/.380/.424, a wRC+ of 130, and a wOBA of .353.
Last week we looked at Marco Scutaro and wondered if he'd perform just as well playing outside of Coors Field where his numbers were quite inflated. With Denorfia, the question is whether his numbers will improve greatly playing outside of Petco. In 2012 he has a slash line of .235/.319/.321, a wRC+ of 85, and a wOBA of .286 in 91 PAs at home while a much better slash line of .363/.404/.539, a wRC+ of 166, and a wOBA of .407 in 111 road plate appearances.
Chris Denorfia could help the Rays in 2012 and with the probable departure of B.J. Upton in 2013 and Desmond Jennings moving to centerfield he would be a very nice piece of the 2013 puzzle that can be acquired now. The Padres will most likely be looking for young controllable pitching and that is one thing the Rays have in all levels of their minor league system.