The Boston Red Sox were in second place at this time last season, three games behind the Tampa Bay Rays, when they traded for Jason Bay. The Red Sox were still in second place behind the Rays when the season ended. When the teams met in the American League Championship Series, well, you know what happened.
And everyone agrees getting Bay was a tremendous move for Boston.
But it didn’t make an impact on the pennant chase.
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Most trade deadline deals don’t.
And that’s why all this gnashing of teeth over what the Rays will or won’t do by today’s 4 p.m. trade deadline seems silly.
Cleveland Indians left-hander Cliff Lee was already traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, so he’s out of the picture.
The Rays can’t afford Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay.
They could use some live bats in the offense, but what live bats are available?
Really, the only way the Rays could go today is a dangerous walk to that town called Dumping Salary. They’re too close in the wild-card standings to cut bait.
Besides, how do you get voters to pay for your new stadium when you won’t pony up the bucks to keep your stars?
Maybe some team will jump at Scott Kazmir. Plenty of scouts were at the Trop on Tuesday to see Kazmir throw his best outing in more than a year. He’s young and left-handed and still throws hard.
But one start does not a season make. It’s a different story had Kazmir pitched like that in his first start after the All-Star break and followed it up with two solid outings.
But Rays vice president of baseball Andrew Friedman would have hard time convincing his ballclub that he still believes it can reach the postseason if he moves Kazmir simply to save salary. He would need a big league starter in return, and who makes that move now?
The Rays can’t afford to take on salary at this point of the season. They have Mr. Burrell to thank for that.
Friedman tried to put together another pennant contender in the offseason. At this point, those hopes are fading.
That’s the plight of the small market team. They can spend whatever money they have in January or July, but not during both months.
If ’09 is truly going to be greater than ’08, then the Rays have to make the magic themselves. There are too many holes in the batting order to fill at one trade deadline.
The fact is, the Rays had their chance to build a winner, and they took that chance in January.