Did bad trades hasten the slide by the Rays?

by Gary Shelton on July 12, 2016 · 0 comments

in general

Tuesday, 6 a.m.

Once, they were a very good team.

Once, they had young talent and fresh energy. They had arms and gloves, and while they didn't hit nearly enough to keep their fans sane, they kept hanging up banners in the outfield. They were smarter than most teams, and better defensively than most, and it seemed as if it was going to last forever.

So what happened to the Tampa Bay Rays?

And did bad trades hasten their fall?

Oh, the empty seats will remind you that, yes, eventually, they would have to trade too much of their talent away. A team can't survive sticking that many

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players in the out bin, so yeah, that was part of it. The Rays dealt James Shields and David Price and Ben Zobrist and the like, and they're still waiting on their return. Shields was the heart of this team, and Price was the soul, and Zobrist, well, he was the conscience. Yeah, the Rays still miss them (it can see Price and Zobrist in tonight's all-star game if it wants).

But that's the conundrum with the Rays. They're forced to trade players away even if the trades aren't good ones. They just can't afford to hang onto their players at their prices.

So they enter the trading deadline, and it usually is a challenge to keep things afloat. Even this year, Rays' fans don't expect great players to come aboard, and if they do, they won't be ready until the year 2023 or so.

But how about their recent trades?

For instance, what about trading Wil Myers away?

The Rays didn't like Myers, to remind you. He didn't listen to coaches, and he didn't work hard enough. The Rays thought there was something lacking in Myers. But tonight, Myers will participate in the All-Star game. He's hitting .286 with 19 homers and 60 RBI. In other words, it's been a great deal for the Padres.

The Rays had given up a lot to get Myers, moving Shields and Wade Davis in their deal with Kansas City. But when Tampa Bay traded him away, they got the rights to Steven Souza, to Rene Rivera, to minor league relief pitcher Burch Smith and minor leagues Travis Ott and Jake Bauers.

For the Rays, it hasn't exactly been like trading away Delmon Young for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett. Rivera was released. Smith had Tommy John surgery. Souza is eighth in the AL in strikeouts. Bauers is hitting .288 in the minors.

Then there was the trade of David Price. Considering that Price makes $31 million a year, you might think more teams valued him higher. But the Rays were able only to get Drew Smyly (2-10), Nick Franklin (having a decent season after a lost year a year ago) and minor league Willie Adames, who is hitting .288 in the minors.

Also, the Rays are waiting for their complete return in the trade of Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to the A's for John Jason (who left), minor leaguers Boog Powell and Daniel Robertson, hitting .254 in the minors.

It is the acquisitions of Adames and Robertson that will eventually tell us whether the Rays got enough (along with saved salaries) for Zobrist and Escobar. It's foolish to decide now.

So far, however, the Rays look like a team that was trying to replace the holes in its farm system. Maybe that will work out. For 2016, however, the major league team isn't celebrating.

Then the Rays traded away pitcher Nathan Karns, reliever C.J. Riefenhauser and minor-leaguer Powell for Logan Morrison, Brad Miller and reliever Danny Farquhar. You can split hairs on that trade. Karns is 6-2, and the Rays could use him in the rotation. But he also has a 4.57 ERA. Meanwhile, Morrison is hitting .236 and Miller .241.

Oh, there were a slight win. You have to like the thought of trading Jake McGee for Corey Dickerson, don't you? McGee is 0-3 and has a 6.12 era. He's given up 32 hits in 25 innings. Dickerson isn't hitting for near enough average (.230), but the Rays did okay.

The point, it seems, is that a team isn't well off when it starts to trade to try to fill holes from its minor leagues. It isn't strong when it has to trade away its stars. It isn't smart when it trades away its run prevention for a few extra home runs.

In all, it has traded away the playoffs for the cellar.

That isn't a good deal, either.

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