Tell me that Tobias Meyers is a better prospect than I know. Great. Glad the Rays got him. I don't have scouts prowling the NY-Penn League, so I'll have to take their word for it.
Tell me Brad Miller's bat has more upside and the Rays need him to get regular playing time so as to tap into that potential. Tell me that with the acquisition of Lucas Duda, that means the Rays are covered everyday at second base. Okay. If Chad Mottola says so, I'm on board. Duda and Miller, grab your bats and let's bash some righties.
Tell me Daniel Robertson is nearly ready to return, that he can provide defensive versatility off the bench, that, while he flashes less power, he makes more contact, and that the Rays have to cycle through their players to keep the system stacked with future major-leaguers. Dealing from depth can be a hard decision to make, but small market teams have to make tough decisions.
Heck, even tell me Taylor Featherston is pretty good. I'll make a face and you'll explain that what you mean is with the limited number of expected plate appearances the difference probably doesn't matter. When I’m being a spreadsheet jockey and not a fan, I agree.
But do not tell me that getting rid of Tim Beckham is addition by subtraction.
That’s what Marc Topkin did, in today’s Tampa Bay Times, offering this support:
He can have an attitude when things aren't going the way he thinks they should, finding perceived slights everywhere, even in being taken out of a game, a negative flip side of the competitiveness and chip-on-his-shoulder attitude that teammates admire. That's why there was justified concern when he was bumped to second after the late June acquisition of Adeiny Hechavarria. And it's nothing new, rooted in Beckham being the top overall pick of the 2008 draft — yes, over Buster Posey — and being set back by injury, a drug suspension and inconsistent play on a path to the majors he still felt was unfairly too slow.
Charming when he wanted to be, there was chatter Beckham wasn't respectful of support staff and didn't take criticism well. He seemed to be available a lot more for interviews when he starred than when he failed.
I can believe that Beckham isn’t always the easiest guy for reporters to get along with, and I do prefer my baseball players to be respectful to support staff. Respect is good.
But not wanting to talk to beat reporters isn’t a critical character flaw in the eyes of anyone other than beat reporters. On the beat, it can be easy to lose perspective. This is a loss of perspective.
But it’s not about Topkin. He didn’t make the decision to trade Tim Beckham.
Beckham—no matter what else you may think of him—is a pretty good baseball player. He strikes out a lot, but there’s power in his bat. The result is a player who can hit for around league-average production, and who can also play average defense at shortstop or above average defense elsewhere. That’s valuable. The Orioles wanted him, and at least judging by Topkin’s quotes from team leaders Chris Archer, Evan Longoria, and Logan Morrison, so did his teammates.
“He has a chip on his shoulder,” and “Sometimes he doesn’t give interviews” are terrible reasons to trade away a player, and for all of us fans’ sake, I hope they were not the real motivators behind the decision.
It’s Kevin Cash’s job to manage the personalities in the clubhouse and to get the best out of the talent available to him. The words of Beckham’s teammates suggest Bex was not an irredeemable bad apple, so if there were ruffled feathers, Cash and the rest of the Rays coaching staff and front office personnel need to do better. Smooth the ruffles.
For what we hope will become known as the “Tobias Myers trade,” the question is 100% about the reasons for making it. If the trade happened for the right reasons, then I admire the Rays’ steely discipline in navigating the restrictions of their small market. If it happened because someone in management thought Tim Beckham was too difficult to fit into the team, that’s the person the Rays need to get rid of.