On the temptation of the Rays to trade Archer

by Gary Shelton on July 20, 2016 · 0 comments

in general

Archer has won only seven of his last 29 decisions./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Archer has won only seven of his last 29 decisions./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Wednesday, 6 a.m.

If it were up to you, you'd dump him. Right?

If it was  you, you would walk to the mound, and you would take the ball from his hands, and you would signal for the next bus to Cleveland.

If it were up to you, you'd check out Chris Archer in Milwaukee's colors. Maybe Seattle's. Maybe San Diego's.

He has been weighed, he has been measured, and he has been found lacking. Archer is a repeat offender, a serial defeatist, and right now, all a lot of fans want from him is away. He hasn't been good enough to help, and so his presence in a

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Will Archr ever control his considerable ability?TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Will Archr ever control his considerable ability?TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

uniform can only hurt. He has lost six straight games, and his ERA continues to hover just short of five.

So why not trade him?

Except, uh, for this: Who would give up much for him?

This is the problem that vexes beyond the disappointment. If the Rays are ever to be good again, they won't subtract their way there. They're going to have to make a series of good trades; we've seen what happens when they pull off the other kind. Archer remains the most frustrating, confounding, talented pitcher on the roster; that's the complicated thing about dealing with him.

I know what you're thnking. This is hardly the time for calm. It's time to storm the castle with pitchforks and demand changes. It's time to shout in loud voices and turn tables over. It's time for unrest, especially on the base paths.

It has never been harder to stick with a pat hand than it is in the case of Archer, a flighty pitcher who cannot seem to channel his consider abililties. So, yeah, the temptation is to let another team try. But bad teams don't get better by giving up on ability no matter how hard it is to bring it out. They do a better job of bringing it out.

In their hearts, I have always believed the Rays operated like stockbrokers. They moved a commodity when it had sufficient numbers for a return. They held onto it in the players' darkest hours.

To me, then, Archer stays. At least, for now.

I know, I know. It's been frustrating watching him fight through the first inning. It's been painful to watch him give up home run balls (20 already, which is more than all of last year). There is nothing than Archer can say that would justify his spot in the rotation.

For the greater good, however, are the Rays better off to keep Archer and an affordable contract and to try to ride it out. I don't think Archer is going to win next year's Cy Young, either, but he could be, say, 8-9 without much of a stretch. He could get his ERA down to, say, 4.00. And then, he might mention a big-name prospect in return.

Yeah, Archer is frustrating. He has the stuff to strike out batter after batter, but not to get out batter after batter. Because of it, Archer has less production per ounce of potential than any pitcher in baseball. But after awhile, it isn't a fluke.

In his last 12 ½ months, Archer's record is 7-22. Now, I know that pitchers will tell you that wins and losses aren't a great judge of what they do for a living. But you don't lose 22 because you're so darned good. I don't care how many you strike out.

So if you're Matt Silverman, the calls you're getting about Archer are probably attempts to pick your pocket. I'm sure other teams would risk a low investment on Archer and hope that a new pitching coach and new teammates and a better defense and more runs might shake things up a little bit.

But what does that team give in return? A reminder: When the Rays traded David Price, a Cy Young winner and proven commodity, they got all of Drew Smyly (2-11), Nick Franklin (on his way back to the minors) and Willie Adames (still in the minors) for him. If that's what a star gets, well, what does Archer get in return? A prospect who might be here in 2022?

Okay, I get it. The Rays need to make some moves, and the world isn't offering a great return for, say, Desmond Jennings, either.

If it's me, however, Smyly makes a lot more sense to trade. And if that's not enough of an exchange to excite anyone, then how about Jake Odorizzi, who has performed like a .500 pitcher this year.

I'm amused when I read all of these stories that say “the Rays are in a selling mood!” Heck, when haven't the Rays been in a selling mood? When Delmon Young was plodding around imagining his name in lights? When B.J. Upton thoguht nothing was wrong with a .211 batting average?

Look, I think you hang onto Archer not because he's too valuable to move. You hang onto him because he's too invaluable to bring in any real return. If the Rays think they can find some, well, it's their parade.

Me? I think the chances of him being a bit better next year are better than his chances of bringing in a future star.

Someday, I think Archer will get it right.

Who knows if he's working in Detroit at the time?

First innings have given Archer fits all season.

First innings have given Archer fits all season.

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