Monday, July 29, 2013
Five teams that should stand pat
By Jim Bowden
The emergence of Chris Archer means the Rays don't need to make major moves.
One of my favorite trade deadline baseball clichés is "sometimes the best trades you make are the ones you don’t make." Indeed, fans and media clamor at this time of year for teams to make trades, but regardless of how compelling a trade proposal or rumor might be, doing nothing sometimes is a general manager’s strongest play.
In the end, I felt the best thing for the team was to hold on to Soriano, who eventually left via free agency and signed with the Chicago Cubs. Meanwhile, Lowe ended up blowing out his elbow and Slowey has been little more than a fringe starter. The draft pick compensation the Nationals received? It turned out to be the pick used to select right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, now one of Washington’s best pitchers.
Look, no fan wants to hear his/her team is going to just “stand pat,” but that’s exactly what these five teams should do in the next 72 hours.
The Rays should do what they normally do at the trade deadline: nothing. While their competition usually will trade young prospects for expensive proven veteran players, which tends to result in just stopgap-type moves, the Rays will often make minor moves or do nothing at all.
The Rays’ team payroll is under $60 million, and the rest of the AL East ranges from Baltimore’s $90 million to the Yankees’ $228 million. The Rays cannot spend like the other teams in the division but won’t trade their best prospects -- and their cost-effective non-arbitration years -- either. (As it is, the Rays essentially acquired an impact bat by calling up top prospect Wil Myers a few weeks ago. He's hitting .328 with seven homers in 33 games for Tampa Bay.)
The Rays could use an upgrade at DH or left field or even another reliever. However, they’re not going to sacrifice prospects for incremental improvements. Any deal general manager Andrew Friedman makes must have some long-term impact. For example, if he can make a deal for a long-term solution at catcher, I’m confident he would make a prospect-for-prospect deal.
After winning the division last season over the Texas Rangers, the A's are proving in 2013 that 2012 was no fluke. They sit atop the division, having scored the most runs and allowed the fewest of any club in the division.
The Athletics have been focused on improving the bullpen at the deadline as well as improving the top of the rotation, and are rumored to have interest in Chicago White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy. They’ve also explored the prospect cost on acquiring another middle infielder, such as Peavy's teammate, Alexei Ramirez.
Oakland also has left-hander Brett Anderson getting ready to come back from the DL, and, although he’ll start in the bullpen, he could end up pitching his way back into the rotation by September. Rookie Sonny Gray is a real wild card and could be a difference-maker in the rotation or bullpen. Either guy could end up being more effective than anyone the A's could trade for.
I think the A’s should just go with what they have. They have a close-knit team stocked with players in their prime (26-31 years old) and have been together and won for two years running.
The Nationals have been the most disappointing team in the National League even though their pitching staff has remained in the NL’s top six in ERA all season. The biggest problem for the Nationals has been their offense, as the Nats sit 24th in MLB in runs.
The Nationals have been playing like a .500 team all season and feel this group simply is underachieving, which is why hitting coach Rick Eckstein was relieved of his duties.
However, although they’re talented enough to make a run in the second half, they will have to do it with the group they have. And they don’t have the same depth and bench production they had a year ago.
The Nationals will have to hope this lineup puts it together in the second half, because any other significant changes will have to wait until the offseason. Trading more good prospects just doesn’t make sense the way they’ve been playing.
Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers’ phone never stops ringing because of the team’s stable of young starting pitchers in the major and minor leagues. However, when you’re a midmarket club, you just can’t trade that type of talent for stopgap players at the trade deadline.
The Diamondbacks are a solid blue-collar team that looked like an 85-win team in March and still look like that three days from the trade deadline.
In other words, this is a good team but not a great team. To make significant trades to improve the team, they’d have to mortgage the future because everyone keeps asking for elite pitching prospect Archie Bradley and Tyler Skaggs, and it just doesn’t make sense to trade years of non-arbitration eligibility to try to win now, especially when this team simply isn’t good enough to win a World Series by making those types of deadline deals.
Outside of a small deal for a left-handed reliever, they’re probably better off doing nothing and trying to win over the next several years with the young pitching they have stockpiled.
If the Nationals are the most disappointing team in the NL, the Blue Jays beat out the Los Angeles Angels as the most disappointing AL team. The Jays have a choice at this deadline: either blow it up and offer Jose Bautista, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey to all the contenders, or keep this team together and try to win with the same group next year.
At the very least, they must rebound and show some signs they can contend in 2014. I think they'll leave well enough alone and see what the team is made of the rest of the season. If they don’t improve, they will become the headline wheeler-dealers in Orlando this December at MLB’s annual winter meetings.