Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com is reporting that the Rays are hinting to other teams that they will listen to offers for James Shields, even if they are still in contention at the trade deadline…

Only half a game out of the second wild-card spot but in desperate need of an offensive boost, the Rays are suggesting to teams that they’ll be willing to trade Shields, even if they still believe they can compete for a playoff spot…The Rays are telling teams that they want to get through this week’s homestand against the Indians and Mariners before deciding on a full course of action.

Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise as it is pretty standard operating procedure for the Rays. They would trade Shields to their opponent on the day before Game 7 of the World Series, if they could, and if they felt like they were getting enough prospects in return.

But what is strange is what a scout said about Shields and his recent struggles…

“He’ll be fine…he just needs a different environment.”

That’s odd. When has the “environment” ever been a problem for Shields? The “environment” wasn’t a problem last year when Shields finished third in the AL Cy Young voting.

Of course, maybe there is something going on behind the scenes. Maybe the scout is hearing that Shields isn’t happy. Maybe Shields is ready for a new contract. He is 30, and coming off the best season of his career. This could be the last chance for him to sign a huge contract, and clearly that won’t happen in St. Pete.

Of course, all of that is just speculation. But why else would a scout think Shields needs a different environment?

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9 Comments

  1. don says:

    Shields is a bit of a perfectionist, maybe he is tired of position players who can't hit, or Maddons constant BS that everything is ok... maybe the writing is on the clubhouse wall..they aren't going to pay him next year if he wins 20games he's gone...ala Crawford....whats the use Knocking himself out..his trade value is way down so he really is screwing the Rays with mediocre/poor performance....

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  2. Drew says:

    He's still pissed at the FO for making him play with Pat Burrell and Kelly Shoppach.

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  3. Rob says:

    A different environment means a different defense behind him.

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  4. Rob says:

    I think Shields' problem is that he is pitching to only half the zone. When is the last time you saw him throw a strike above the belt? I think hitters are locking in just above the knees and waiting for a pitch to cross the plate.

    Hopefully Shields will pull a Kazmir and run off about three really nice outings after a consistently crappy year and then we trade him to some sucker who thinks he turned the corner, made an adjustment, etc.

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  5. Beth says:

    If Shields is concerned about his next contract, giving up 10+ hits per game seems like an odd way to address the problem. And while the defense hasn't helped, he's given up enough walks and homeruns to suggest that poor defense can only explain a piece of his uninspiring performance of late.

    I think some scout made an offhand remark and we're all busy parsing it as though this person actually knows what he is talking about.

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  6. zenny says:

    Shields is back to his 2010 form, when he was really really bad. I don't think his stuff was better last year; it was all about great pitch sequence and location, which in turn developed his confidence, making him that much better.

    None of the catchers from last year are back. Perhaps that has a lot to do with it.

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  7. Lane Meyer says:

    Shields has abandoned his new sideways stance on the rubber that they developed and talked so much about last year as a key to his new success. I think Shields thinks he knows better than the coaches and they are probably frustrated with him. Also, the Rays can't afford to pay him what he thinks he deserves. They probably should have traded him at his peak of value after last year's career year when names like Mark Trumbo were thrown around.

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  8. Gus says:

    I like him. He's been a quality pitcher. But when the Rays stop winning (which may be happening as we watch), I think lots of deferred payroll greviances will come to the forefront as this "era of good feelings" may come to an end.

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