And the hits just keep on comin’

Buster Olney tackled the Rays and what they might do at the trade deadline in this column for ESPN Insider.

Within the piece are some good nuggets like:

  • “They will listen to just about every trade proposal thrown their way, regardless of who is involved…”
  • “The perception among other teams is that Tampa Bay is ready to move [BJ Upton]. Now.”
  • “Rival evaluators say they definitely could see [Johnny] Damon moving to another team in the last nine weeks of the season.”
  • “[James Shields’] performance would probably be the most crucial for a late rush by Tampa Bay. The Rays really don’t buy into Hail Marys and fairy-tale finishes, and the fact is that Shields’s trade value may never be higher than it is right now.”
  • The Rays have been scouting the Reds minor league system and the Reds are interested in James Shields. Olney adds that the Rays could be interested in 1B prospect Yonder Alonso and/or C Devin Mesoraco.

But maybe the most interesting comment was about how much of a factor public perception is…

“…they will listen to just about every trade proposal thrown their way, regardless of who is involved, and if it’s a good baseball trade, they’ll do it, without fretting about public backlash. Because there can’t be that much backlash when you’re drawing 22,000-plus for a game against the Yankees in the middle of the summer, which is what happened Tuesday night.”

Got that? The Rays don’t give a crap what you think, because there aren’t enough of you to make any noise. Well, at least that’s what a writer for ESPN believes.



  1. Charles says:

    I would actually rather they not care what I think, at least as regards baseball operations, because they know significantly more about that stuff than I do (even if I like to think I'm a good armchair GM). I want them to make good baseball trades based on all the tools, data, scouting, etc. at their disposal no matter how much any of us might scream about not liking whatever trade they make.

    In general, he's wrong about the backlash though - if you're a team worried about revenue and attendance at all, a move that pisses off even a couple thousand people who then decide to not go to any more games (even if only for a season) is significant. So they do have to worry about the backlash - it may be low on the list of concerns, but it's on the list.

    • Blake says:

      This. I want a front office always looking to be better, even if it means breaking my heart. Love the player, root for the laundry. In Friedman We Trust.

  2. Sarah says:

    Does any team make trades worried about fan "backlash?" And if they do, is their perception of backlash measured in tickets sold? They make it sound as though "backlash" would consist of fans at the stadium actually storming the executive suite -- "Well, Andrew, if there were 30,000 fans here protesting a Shields trade we'd be in trouble, but as there are only 23,000 people out there throwing rotten tomatoes, I think we can handle them."

    In short, just when we think our ESPN friends have reach the heights of silliness regarding the Rays, they exceed our expectations!

  3. Hal says:

    I think they can handle the "backlash" when in dumping Shields, Upton, and Damon they'll be saving over $10 mil in payroll. So when we're down by about 5k per game at the gate, it's a wash and we start next year with a payroll in the 30's. In case you haven't checked, we are fading quick so the attendance loss will probably be happening deadline dump or not. I've come to accept that this season is now over.

  4. Merrill says:

    I got Buster to reply on Twitter (3 responses this week from ESPN fatheads for me) after I called him out for being an ass. I don't disagree that the team's budget is because a smaller draw, but saying that we are irrelevant is a dick move.

    • Ryan says:

      Funny, I got one from Ducis Rodgers after he made some snark about the broken light.

      It's amazing the amount of energy they're investing pissing on the Rays. You'd think they'd have better things to do with their time. Especially worse when they're wasting time on Twitter replying to people on teh internets.

  5. werD says:

    trade shields and upton, use SOME of that money to sign Kotch to a 3 yr, 15MM deal, and then trade every prospect youve traded for in the last 2 seasons for the best catcher to ever walk the face of the minor leagues!!!

  6. Caity says:

    Personally, if you want my opinion (and Im not a GM, I know that, Im just someone who happens to watch the game of baseball and how it works). If you start trading these guys now, youre pretty much giving up on the season. I say keep them until it gets to the point like when we traded Kazmir. Then again, Kazmir was pretty much ineffective when he was traded, but I just feel like it's too early to trade these guys right now.

  7. Caity says:

    Oh, and I found this from MLB trade rumors from the comments section, It was a story about trading Shields, but I think it applies perfectly. (and Im sorry if Im offending anyone with this one, but this is someone else words, not mine.. well the first paragraph is, and the last sentence is.

    Is probably the most interesting take I’ve heard on the Rays all week, and it’s coming from a Rays fan NOT on Rays Index or every other blog site, it’s from MLB trade rumors. It’s a little offensive in my opinion since he called the Rays fanbase ignorant and whiny (Um hello, Im not ignorant, and the Rays fans on Tumblr are NOT ignorant, whiny? a little. Ignorant?. nope ), other than that, I agree with what he says.

    If we do end up trading Shields, it better be for a huge haul. And it would have to be a haul of offensive players.

    The reason we can get away with potentially doing this is because our system is so stacked with pitchers. If we trade Shields, we simply move Cobb into the rotation fulltime, and next year do something with Niemann or Davis(either move them to the bullpen or trade) in order to make room for Moore. Still, Shields is a great pitcher and most importantly, he’s controllable. Which means we’d be very hesitant to trade him. The only way I can see it happening is if we can get some offense, particularly some power hitters. Because right now, that’s the one thing our minor league system(and major league team, for that matter) lacks.

    One other thing to consider is moronic fans. Despite the fact that Crawford was gone and anyone with half a brain knew it, and despite the fact that we robbed the Cubs blind with the Garza trade and replaced him with a pitcher who’s better right now(Hellickson), Rays fans down here were throwing a fit on every blog, message board, and social network available. I love my team, but the fanbase I’m a part of is incredibly ignorant and has no concept whatsoever about what this team has to do to keep winning. And if Shields is traded, all they’ll see is his ERA and yet again throw a fit about it supposedly being a salary dump and the owners trying to hoard money and all that other nonsense. They don’t look at the upside(no one even realizes that their white hero Fuld is a direct result of the Garza trade, they think he just appeared out of thin air or something), they just whine. And unfortunately, with attendance already being terrible, this is something the team has to consider as well.

    *Like I said, this is what someone else posted on a blog, I apologize if this offended anyone. I dont really believe the “Ignorant” part because most Rays fans

    Heres the link to the story where it’s talking about Shields getting traded (I’d rather see Niemann/Davis get traded than him.. at least for the moment anyways)

    • Indiana Ray Boy says:

      Shields to the Reds for 1B Yonder Alonso and/or C Devin Mesoraco. I will make that deal in a heartbeat. Get something for Shields while they can. I see Niemann getting traded down the road but they are not going to get those two prospects for Niemann. Wade Davis got signed to a 7 year 35 million dollar contract and he is not going anywhere anytime soon. Niemann and Shields are replaceable with young guns in Cobb and Moore. Rays are in desperate need of a catcher that can hit for average and a future 1B that can hit and Kotchman is not getting any younger despite his career year in BA. Alonso and Mesoraco are huge upgrades than Shoppach and Jaso.

  8. angrybuddha says:

    Our next real shot at a title run is 2013 We owe Shields $7M next year and (I think) $10M in 2013. That's $17M to go for a title in 2 years when Cobb & Moore will also be ready. Shields is a Cy-Young-caliber guy at the moment, but after last season, do we believe he'll continue to be that for 2 more seasons? Or is this a last-gasp great year? If the latter, then we have to trade him for a boatload of AAA prospects - or straight up for the next Buster Posey. We want guys who'll be ready to supplement that awesome staff in 2013.

    It'd suck to see him go, but if we keep him, that's a lot of money tied up in a player... and that's not the Ray way.

    My feeling is that if Andrew Friedman decides to trade him, then I'm on board with it.

  9. Don says:

    Well i don't care what ESPN thinks..EXCEPT..The Rays DO need to unload
    The players they have (sorry Kotch/Zobrist) are not getting it done
    Dump...worry about fans later if you are going to lose, might as well have a bunch of young players that could turn into something the current players are not...

  10. Michael says:

    Surprised Olney is also going to take this shots.

    I would be a pretty penny that all of this goes away if the Rays are realigned away from New York and Boston.

  11. Joe says:

    This is an asinine move by Olney. I guess the Rays told him that they think no one cares? If he is editorializing, then the fans will NEVER get a fair shake.

  12. Ken Heller says:

    A few thoughts for Rays fans out there (and I count myself as one):
    1. Outside of the pitching staff name the impact players the "boy genius" Friedman has imported via trade or draft. We give him way too much credit.
    2. The owners say they can't survive and make any money if the payroll is above 50 mil. Wait a minute, they get 35/40 mil a year in revenue sharing so that's a load of crap. Agree?
    3. We'll never win 'cause the Trop is a dump. Really? When George bought the Yanks the Stadium was a dump, located in a section of NYC that's still nasty. They won. Shea was a dump when the Mets had those great '80's teams. They won. Fenway still is a dump and they win.
    4. Face it fans, our players don't score as many runs as our opponents night in and night out, thus we lose.
    As my Pop Pop used to say...Wait till next year...but I'm afraid the song will remain the same.

    • Rob says:

      "The Yankees and Red Sox don't seem to have a problem winning at the Trop."

      Someone told me that Mayor Foster said this in response to Maddon's whining about the stadium being "improper" for baseball. If that is true, I have to give him some props for that one.

      On a related note, I am a season ticket holder and I don't think I will renew. The Rays can't score and ownership says the stadium isn't any good, so I am not sure what the draw is then. Why would I go?

    • Michael says:

      As it turns out there are more expenses for a baseball organization than player salaries.

      Front office, stadium upkeep and staffing, travel, charity, taxes, lease on the stadium...

      50-ish million sounds reasonable to me.

      They keep it to 40 mill so they can build a warchest and make a playoff run every few years.

  13. robert says:

    Empty seats.... plenty of room to stretch out...

  14. Steve says:

    ESPN is a joke, I watch MLB Network. They take the occasional shot at the Trop and the attendance but they give un biased baseball information most of the time. If Freidman can somehow pry Alonso AND Mesoraco from the Reds along with maybe Chris Heisey, that would be worth it to me to move Shields. The Rays have always focused on pitching and defense but I think its time we sacrifice some of the arms we have to try to improve our offense. Alonso is a potential middle of the order bat that we wouldn't be able to afford in the FA market and anyone can see they need a C. The Rays have the pitching on the farm to replace Shields (Cobb, Torres, Moore etc...) but they don't have anybody close to ready to help this subpar offense.

  15. Shields beat himself with that throwing error, but I would hate to see him go.
    Unless Tampa Bay gets a real haul for him, good pitchers are hard to come by.


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