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Jake's Take: Same Ol' Rays?

Oh, it's not fun to play Arm-chair GM for the Rays this year. I'm guessing Gerry and Andy aren't having too much fun, either. So many possible moves to be made, but this isn't a normal market. Players that would be normally be deemed "untouchable" are finding their ways into deals and rumors for deals. It's hard to tell what kind of a market for there is for our "Cheaply Priced Trading Chips". Our only trade so far has ridded us of one enigmatic player, however we replaced him with another.

My question to the readers, Is a trade this offseason going to make an impact on the Rays "now" and "in the future?" The biggest component of last year's 2nd Half surge was a complete turnaround in the team's chemistry. Team Chemistry can do alot for young teams, look at what it did for the last 3 World Series champions. Florida, Boston and Chicago's championships were centered around good team chemistry. Yes, this team hasn't been on the winning end much in the last 8 years...but if the right mix of personalities gels together, there's noone in our division that rivals what we could have.

Trading Huff and Lugo would have an effect on the chemistry of this team, moreso than trading Baez, Hall or Gathright would. Lugo is well-respected, quiet and has the team's best intentions in mind for the most part. He's been looked at as the Ray's "Heart" of the team and has only one "me" moment during his time here(declining to move to 2nd). He's improved greatly both offensively and defensively, something Chuck LaMar probably didn't expect to happen when he picked Lugo as a last-ditch effort to find a replacement for oft-injured Rey Ordonez. He may not be the long-term answer for the Rays, but in the short-term he is. His on-base skills got him highly noticed throughout the baseball world and he's a hot commidity in the current trade market.

As for Huff, fans opinions of him change every week. One week, he's a long-term Rays fan-favorite who deserves to be on the Rays team when we start our run for contention and the next week, he's yesterday's leftovers whose smell is starting to stick to the other food in the refrigerator. In the clubhouse he's rubbed some players the wrong way with his comments against the Front Office, but in the same breath he's gained alot of his peer's respect for that as well. He's been a hot-topic for teams in need of a left-handed power bat for a few year's now and his price is extremely cheaper than they would, if he were a Free Agent.

For a team that has yet to surpass 70 wins in its short history, do we build off of the current team chemistry that led to a .500+ record in the 2nd half or do we trade these players when their value is at its highest and acquire players whose upside surpasses that of the player we just traded them for? That's a hard decision that the NDRO will soon have to make.

The ODRO's stigma hasn't helped the new regime, as well. I'm guessing that many executives aren't buying into the story that this organization has fully turned itself around. This fact was made apparent during this offseason's Winter Meetings, when there was reports that the NDRO's overvaluing of players cut themselves out of many deals. Our lack of pressure to go out and make deals is a double-edged sword, we will eventually make a deal...but we may get diminished returns from what we could've had if we would've struck a deal during the players' peak.

Another thing to consider is, if we manage to keep Huff, Lugo and Baez for the entire may supply us with a few extra draft picks in the 2007 Amatuer Draft, which is also thought to be the season that the Rays make a push for contention. This is a risky move, but also has it's pluses.