In baseball, it's said that there's always a "window of opportunity" for a team to contend for a championship. In the 10 years of existence of the Rays, it appeared that Chuck LaMar had left the safety locks on the windows for the 1st 8 years. In the 2 years under new regime rule, the window appears to have been open just a little but not enough where the Rays are contenders.
Most of the time, this window opening is due to a few circumstances. It's usually due to a big free agent spending binge or an influx of talent from the minor leagues. In very rare circumstances, it's due to an exodus of talent from rival teams. The opening also can last from a year or so to even 12-15 years(if you're the Yankees or Braves).
Between now and 2009, the microscopic opening may turn into a wide open window. If all 3 of the aforementioned circumstances for the Rays happen, like they just might, the Rays are in store for a nice "run". Thanks may be going out to the New York Yankees and Tommy John very soon.
If I were Andy, here's what I'd do at Winter Meetings:
-Looking at the Rays and our strengths/weaknesses, there's truly only 3 "holes" that need to be either fixed altogether or patched until something else better comes along.
These holes are:
- Middle-relievers and a long-term answer at closer.
- Back-up catcher to Navarro.
- Defensive Shortstop with a replacement level bat.
Going into the Winter Meetings, we should pinpoint the NL West as trading partners. Outside of Arizona, the division seems very weak in the Outfielder department. With Rocco Baldelli, Jonny Gomes and (dare I say) Elijah Dukes in our control, we could pick up nearly all those "needs" in 1 or 2 swift trades.
If I had to pin-point trade targets, I'd look for:
-Giants: Noah Lowry(4th or 5th starter, just so we don't have to deal with Howell/Hammel/Jackson) or Brian Wilson
-Rockies: Clint Barmes, Chris Iannetta and Franklin Morales
-Padres: Josh Bard, Mark Antonetti and Andrew Brown/Royce Ring.
-Dodgers*: Jonathan Meloan, James Loney and possibly Greg Miller(2.0)
*- I don't really see us trading with the Dodgers as much as Colorado or the Giants, but I didn't think that we were going to trade with the Dodgers 3 times 2 years ago. Who knows with Flanders running the ship.
With the Offseason not even starting, I'll hold more of my thoughts until November/December gets here.