The Winter Meetings are finally here and, for once as a Rays fan, it's something to be excited about. We're confident, we know what we're looking for and we're aggressive enough to make it happen. This ain't Kansas anymore, Dorothy...Andy wants this team to excel in 2008 and will do everything he can to insure that happens.
Well, in the follow post, I'd like to share with everyone what my plans would be for me if I was put in the spot of GM(Executive VP) for the Rays and what trades or signings I'd try to pull off.
-More to come after the jump-
Signings or players to inquire about "asking price"(or who to "kick the tires on"):
Ron Mahay, LOOGY- While I don't really believe that the LOOGY spot of a bullpen is important, it's evident that Kurt Birkins and Jeff Ridgway don't fit in a bullpen with names like Troy Percival, Al Reyes, Dan Wheeler and Juan Salas(his last name is a palindrome). Ron Mahay would be yet another "veteran presence" in the bullpen. Only risk is that he's a Type B Free Agent and he'd cost us a 2nd round pick in the upcoming draft. Does an aging reliever equate to losing the 56th-60th pick in the draft? Probably not, however, stealing 2 relievers that the Yankees have inquired about is worth a 2nd round pick to me.
Tony Clark, Aging 1B platooner- Positive Veteran Leader who still can hit for power.
Michael Barrett, Tough Catcher- He punched AJ Pierzynski, he made Carlos Zambrano look like an idiot when Zambrano blamed him for giving up 10 or so runs in an inning(then got into a fight with Zambrano), confronted Rich Hill when he felt that the youngster wasn't following his lead and had a case of the Nuke Lalooshes(shaking off pitches). Decent hitter, calls a good game and will stand up for his pitchers when they give him a good effort. Yeah, sounds like he's Crash Davis Incarnate.
Andruw Jones, 1 year rental/shock the baseball world- With Barry Bonds in a tough position to make game appearances and court appearances at the same time, why not bite the bullet and prove to Boras that we're willing to take the risk and spend money? We sign Jones to an incentive-laiden contract with a possible option for a 2nd year, we impress Boras who needs to be proven that we're "in it to win it" and we may be allowed to sign Pena to a deal that we won't have to pay through the nose.
Kazuo Fukomori, Japanese Reliever- We need to continue slowly adding international talent and continue to improve our bullpen. It's bad enough that Boston and the Yankees seem to have partnerships with Japanese baseball teams, but keeping Japanese fans in tune with Rays baseball with Aki and Fukomori will prevent those 2 from taking over the Japanese market.
Just Say No to: Darin Erstad, Trever Miller, Bartolo Colon, David Eckstein and Eric Gagne.
In baseball, it takes 2 to tango in trades. We were shown best evidence of that with the Young-Garza trade in which Rincon got flipped for Morlan when we became weary of Rincon's elbow issues (not to mention his "steroid issues"). If I were GM, here's offers that I'd throw out in hopes that one or all would occur.
SP Edwin Jackson, RP Al Reyes and OF Jonny Gomes to Seattle for C Jeff Clement and PTBNL- We all need to give up the thoughts that Edwin Jackson will be a future starter in the Rays rotation, especially with the players coming up in our system. I'd rather trade Jackson now and give Niemann the 4th/5th spot in the rotation. Al Reyes and Jackson were 2 players that Consultant to Buzz Jr. scouted last year near the deadline and Gomes would give the Mariners a power bat that they so badly need while lessening the odds of seeing Gomes play RF for us ever again. Clement would give us a dynamic young duo of catchers, which would give Dioneer the idea that he needs to speed up his development and "work out" a bit more often. Clement, due to his massive body, always could learn 1B on the job and get some ABs at DH. We'd be less likely to have free outs in our line-up with the possibility of Clement in the line-up. I only say PTBNL because this would be the 1st time that the Rays would be giving up more parts than parts received in a trade, so a 3-for-2 trade seems more likely to me.
SP J.P. Howell to Arizona for RF Carlos Quentin- I realize that I'm writing something that's very unlikely, due to the names involved, but it "could" happen. Carlos is coming off a shoulder surgery(to his non-throwing arm) and the Diamondbacks are hard-pressed for young pitching. J.P. seems destined to become a better pitcher on a NL team than the AL, so why not fill a hole of ours with a player that was a top prospect in a very prestigous farm system but has basically lost his luster by default and D-Backs crowded OF? If not JP straight up, offer them Hammel and JP and ask for Neigborgall in addition to Quentin.
SP Wade Davis and OF John Matulia for the rights to SP Mark Prior- Initially, in an idea that I gave to RJ, I said Wade Davis for Prior. However, Hendry probably would be mocked for such a random trade for a pitcher that Cub fans have never heard of (even though they have a WR posing as a pitcher in their farm system). I added his idea to the offer, just for the fact that Hendry loves "toolsy" OFers and the fact that Matulia was a draftee of Wilkens(who drafted John's baby bro, I believe, for the Cubs). I say rights to Prior, due to Prior's contract issues. Basically, Mark Prior has until December 12th to decide if he wants to become a FA after this season concludes or not. If we received his rights in a trade, we could negotiate a deal in which we could give him an incentive-laiden contract that would pay him fairly well if he stays healthy and pitches effectively. While I'm a big fan of WD40, Jake and him aren't both going to make it into the Rays rotation(if either) and we should try to trade one of them while their stock is up due to their rankings on baseball prospect lists. Win-win for us.