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Trades, Hagiography , and Paramore

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Depending on how long you've read the site you know one of my personal favorite websites is MLB Trade Rumors, ran by Tim Dierkes, who is a great guy, and gave us some of his time to discuss the Rays, Andrew Friedman, and Warped Tour, his answers are in bold

All along the talk was Wigginton to the Yankees or to the Twins, at the end he went to a team that hadn't been mentioned, and for a bounty higher than  expected (assuming Scott Baker / Scott Proctor were the expectations) I'd say when Dan Wheeler is on, meanin outside of his homerific June, he was perhaps a top 10 non-closer reliever in the NL. We've had a lot of talk  around this site about this off-season being when the team would add to the bullpen by taking a run at Francisco Cordero and Scott Linebrink; theoretically let's say the 29 year old Wheeler becomes a free agent after  this season, where would you rank him amongst the FA relievers?

I haven't looked in-depth at the relief market quite yet.  But I'll ballpark it at top ten - can you find nine better free agent relievers?

This is Andrew Friedman's second trade deadline, last year dealing Julio Lugo amongst others for minor leaguers, most of which have yet to see the  field for the Rays, but this year he dealt for prominently Major League arms, including his free agent findings like Carlos Pena while also taking into account the Josh Hamilton situation, are we looking at a future cult  blog hero a la Billy Beane? I guess I'm asking is it wrong that I'm considering starting the 'Friedmanism' religion?

Friedman will never quite get to that level unless someone writes a book about him.  I nominate you.  I like what he's doing overall though and I think they're distancing themselves from the previous regime.  

At the end of the day, despite ESPN speculating there was a three-way trade being discussed involving Al Reyes, the team kept the 37 year old. The easy rumor floating was Jeff Clement for Reyes, obviously that didn't come to fruition otherwise Friedman and company would've pulled the trigger before Bavesi finished his sentence. Now with Salas - Balfour - Wheeler - Reyes for  at least one year after this: Good 'core' of a bullpen or are we still sitting on the banks of average?

Bullpens are so volatile - a great pen can turn to crap easily.  Ask the White Sox.  I think the Rays have the makings of an average pen but I am skeptical of Reyes for '08.  You know what might be cool, a starter with good stuff in the back end of the pen.  Niemann or someone, you would know better than me.

The Rays have made no qualms stating they're likely to take on a player of substantial salary this off-season. From an outsider's perspective, what would your top five list be for the Rays this off-season?

I'd probably sign me a Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano.  Oops, that won't work.  Lo Duca then, I guess.  But I'd love to see a huge name starter anchor that rotation, pushing Kazmir and Shields to #2 and #3.  I think that team could truly contend.  Imagine if the Rays bumped payroll by $50 mil.  That would be so exciting.  I'd probably add one reliever to put the team over the hump - a serious one like Gagne.  $5 mil for the catcher, 18 for Z, 12 for Gagne = $35 mil extra next year. Not that bad.

With the promotions of Delmon Young and Andrew Sonnanstine as well as the addition of David Price and co., do the Rays still have the best farm system in your opinion, or can Colorado hold claim to that?

Rays, easily.  I'm no prospect hound, but yeah.

Evan Longoria is tearing up a league and the sky is still blue, assuming he gets an infield gig starting next spring, do you see a Ryan Zimmerman / Ryan Braun like outbreak or struggles like Alex Gordon?

That's something I have to figure out before making a fantasy recommendation.  I lean toward Gordon, because Longoria hasn't seen Triple A.

The Rays have a nice mix of 'old style' baseball in the front office with Gerry Hunsicker, and 'new era' techniques in Andrew Friedman and a pair of former Baseball Prospectus writers: James Click and 23 year old Yale graduate Chaim Bloom and even Dan Feinstein of Moneyball fame. From my knowledge another organization hasn't hired directly from BP, is this going  to be a new trend in baseball where we see teams scoop into the baseball writer / statistician talent pool for any advantages?

Thought the Tribe got a BP guy?  I could be wrong.  But yeah, why wouldn't a team go after Dan Fox and all those kinds of talents?

Delmon Young should start clearing some space for AL Rookie of the Year, right? Or is the midget...I mean Dustin Pedroria going to rob Batman?

Sorry man, my vote goes to Jeremy Guthrie.

B.J. Upton's high level of play seems 'effortless', and for that he's starting to remind some people of Ken Griffey Jr. in his early years, would  that be a decent comparison offensively for B.J. or is he a more OBP conscious Alfonso Soriano?

I would have to go with Junior because I just can't picture an OBP conscious Soriano.  Soriano is the new Sammy Sosa, but with added leadoff goodness!

Jay Witasick was one of the more applauded signings for the Rays, he came over and had the effectiveness of a dead fish although it may have been  injury induced. Scott Dohmann's signing meanwhile was largely harassed; he's been quite effective, and every time he records a strikeout the PA plays a D'oh! Sound clip, which as you know, makes us happy. Just one of many  examples of why year to year it's hard to build and predict good bullpens, why is that?

I think it's because of the small samples.  These guys are throwing 10-12 innings a month, anyone can have a good/bad month or two in a row.

Let's say the Rays decide to move in a new direction and hire a new manager, and decide on three finalists; pitching coach extraordinaire Mike Maddux,  revolutionary stats manager Dave Johnson, and the most successful coach in Rays history, bench coach Bill Evers, which would you endorse?

Davey.

One of my pet peeves is the vaunted 'veteran presence' that gets thrown around a lot by sports writers, I can't stand hearing someone make the case  for a team to acquire say Jeff Conine or assume because a guy is 36 he's a better leader than a 23 year old. Are you a big fan of that reasoning or just consider it one of those old clichés?

It seems like a cliche to me.  But I have never been in a big league clubhouse so I might be the wrong guy to ask.  But take the Rays - it may be nice to have Jeff Conine there, but is Delmon going to hit better because of it?  Doesn't seem that way.  Maybe it matters a little more for pitchers, but I'm guessing.

You're also a Cubs' fan, so we have to ask the obligatory, how's ol' Lou and his pitching management working out for you?

Honestly I can't complain too much.  Seems like the right guys are in the rotation, and he was ballsy enough to make Marmol his setup man and demote Eyre.  

Paul DePodstra needs to be a GM in this league where Dave Littlefield and Bill Bavesi are, no? Shouldn't the MLB relegate the Pirates to the Cam-Am league until they hire this guy, or would Fox Sports just ignore that too?

You're preaching to the choir...Littlefield and Bavasi just don't seem to get it.

Which band gave the best performance on Warped Tour?

Paramore.

Final thing: you come out with fantasy guides often, isn't it time to give the world a rumor guide so in 10-15 years we can look back at the rumored  'Lastings Milledge + Mike Pelfrey for Carl Crawford' deal with sheer glee? And also I want my royalties' check.

Hopefully my website is that guide, those archives ain't going anywhere.

Tim, you run two great sites and anytime we get the chance to talk baseballit's a pleasure, thanks for the time.

Thanks RJ.