For the record: I have decided to break down this post written by Jacob Larsen of DRays Bay even before reading it, having no idea if I will agree or disagree with the points that have been made…
Jake Larsen of DRays Bay takes on the role of Tampa Bay Rays GM and tells us the moves he would try to make at the winter meetings. We will take a look at each of these suggestions and offer our thoughts on whether or not the moves are good for the Rays and/or if the moves are even possible.
Jake first looks at the pool of free agents and picks five players that the Rays should be targeting as well as 5 players to avoid.
Ron Mahay, LHP
- [Jake's Take] 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.
- [The Professor's Take] Would be a strong upgrade over the leftys that are available in-house. Mahay made $1.25 million last season, which means he might be had for $2 million, which would be reasonable. Unfortunately, the Yankees may also be interested, and we are skeptical of giving up a second round pick. The Rays recent second round picks have included Will Kline, Josh Butler, Chris Mason, Reid Brignac and James Houser. Would the Rays trade one of those players for Ron Mahay? Not likely. For a team that builds through their farm system, that is too big a big price for a lefty specialist. verdict: DON’T SIGN
Tony Clark, 1B
- [Jake's Take] Positive Veteran Leader who still can hit for power
- [The Professor's Take] This is true, BUT, Clark is strictly a 1B/DH. While the Rays do need a left handed bat and Clark would be a great power threat, he would be strictly a DH with the Rays. That will take significant at bats away from Rocco Baldelli and Jonny Gomes. Also, while Clark may be willing to be a role player or platoon DH, would he be willing to do that with the Rays? And will the Rays be willing to give Clark $1.5-2 million to be a part-time player? verdict: WON’T SIGN
Michael Barrett, C
- [Jake's Take] 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
- [The Professor's Take] A Type A free agent. And while the Rays top pick is protected, Barrett would cost the Rays their second round pick. Again, would the Rays trade one of the above mentioned players (ie. Reid Brignac) for a backup catcher? Not a chance in hell. Low payroll teams have to be smart and that is not a smart move. verdict: DON’T SIGN
Andruw Jones, CF
- [Jake's Take] 1 year rental/shock the baseball world…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.
- [The Professor's Take] We admire the wishing, but this is absolutely ridiculous. First of all Scott Boras has already said that Jones will not accept a 1-year deal. Then consider that the Rays would have to pay $15 million annually for a player that has only hit above .265 ONCE in the last seven seasons, and posted a line of .222-26-94 last season. Don’t get us wrong. Jones is a talent. But the Rays have other needs. If the Rays are going to drop $15 million on one player, why not grab a starting pitcher (or two). verdict: PIPE DREAM
Kazuo Fukumori, RHP
- [Jake's Take] 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
- [The Professor's Take] We have no idea about the talent. Our concern is that Japanese relievers are now the soup-of-the-day after the success of Hideki Okajima of the Red Sox. The Mets fell for this after the success of Ichiro when they thought Tsuyoshi Shinjo was just as good if not better. And please keep in mind that the Yankees are the Yankees and the Red Sox are the Red Sox. Even in Japan. The Rays may want a piece of that market, but they cannot compete on the same level as those two teams. As for Fukumori, there appears to be a number of teams interested, so it depends on how high the bidding goes. And in the meantime, the Rays’ need for a lefty trumps this. verdict: MAYBE
players to avoid: Darin Erstad, Trever Miller, Bartolo Colon, David Eckstein and Eric Gagne.
- [The Professor's Take] Please, please stay away from Erstad, Eckstein and Gagne. Colon? Not for the price, but we think he still has gas in the tank. Miller is the interesting one. Miller is a LHP that had a big 2006, but came back to earth in 2007. Again, if that price is not too much, he could be cheaper than Mahay.
Jake then proposed three trades…
SP Edwin Jackson, RP Al Reyes and OF Jonny Gomes to Seattle for C Jeff Clement and PTBNL
- [Jake's Take] We all need to give up the thoughts that Edwin Jackson will be a future starter in the Rays rotation…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
- [The Professor's Take] We like Clement and have made our feelings known about Jackson in the past (he is a quitter). Two problems. Seattle would probably do this deal without the Rays including Reyes (unless the Rays want an extra prospect tossed in) and we are not sure the Rays would open the season with such a young starting rotation and young starting catcher and not have a veteran catcher on the roster. verdict: WE LIKE
SP J.P. Howell to Arizona for RF Carlos Quentin [Quentin has since been traded to the White Sox]
- [Jake's Take] 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.
- [The Professor's Take] Quentin was traded for a top first base prospect who was in single-A, so it is difficult to gauge if this deal would have been acceptable to the D-Backs, but we would have pulled the trigger. verdict: GOOD DEAL, CAN’T HAPPEN
SP Wade Davis and OF John Matulia for the rights to SP Mark Prior
- [Jake's Take] 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).
- [The Professor's Take] This one must be a joke, or Jake was getting really tired or desperate for ideas. NO, NO, NO…NEVER, NEVER, NEVER. First off, the Rays are giving up one of the Top 20 prospects in baseball for the rights to Prior? And let’s say the Cubs did turn down Davis for Prior. Who in their right mind actually thinks that the Cubs are all of the sudden going to say “yes” when the Rays include an outfielder that hit .257/.312/.352 in SINGLE-A!?!?! We know Prior is a talent. And we know that sometimes a team like the Rays needs to take risks, but those risks have to be calculated. A team like the Yankees can take a risk on a Mark Prior, because if he doesn’t work, nobody cares about the money lost. If the Rays give Prior $5 million for 2008, and he doesn’t pitch, that is a huge blow to the payroll and the roster. verdict: WE ARE STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT IF JAKE WAS SERIOUS.