The Rays have been able to do what the Orioles haven't: Develop young pitching into Major League talent. While there have been missteps (Dewon Brazelton and Wade Townsend come to mind), through sheer numbers of early round draft picks, they have had their share of successes, like 1st rounders David Price and Jeff Niemann and 3rd rounder Wade Davis. With the addition of later round diamonds in the rough (Jeremy Hellickson and Alex Cobb in the 4th round; Matt Moore in the 8th; James Shields in the 16th!) they now have an abundance of quality starting pitching.
That is seven starting pitchers, each drafted and developed by the Rays who would right now probably be considered no worse than a #3 in the Orioles rotation. It is impressive. But we've come to plunder the Rays, not to praise them. Because, despite their ability to develop major league pitchers at a high rate, they have been less successful in developing and retaining impact bats. Desmond Jennings might explode in 2012, as he showed periods of brilliance in '11. But he also struggled down the stretch, with an OPS of .506 in September. It looks like the league made an adjustment, and we'll see if he is able to take the next step. But, assuming that he does (and I believe that he will), that leaves the Rays with a solid foundation at LF, CF, 3B, wherever they stick Zobrist and possibly RF if they decide that Matt Joyce is good enough to face left handed pitching on a consistent basis. Either way, they could really use a couple of bats, especially at 1B and DH, which would allow them to keep Zobrist at 2B. Kotchman and Damon are available, but they are old and the power is dwindling or non-existent, and both coming off decent years so they won't be cheap. They also will need relief help, this year and in the future, so I am adding a relief prospect to help sweeten the deal.
Since the Rays have locked up Moore through his FA1 year on a pretty sweet deal, I think he is off the table. Although he seems like kind of a jerk from tv interviews I've seen of him, I think that the best pitcher to go after would be Jeremy Hellickson. He is young and good. Which would be a great change from young and awful.
Here is how my trade would go down:
- P Jeremy Hellickson
- OF Justin Ruggiano
- 1B/DH Mark Reynolds
- OF/1B/DH Nolan Reimold
- P Clay Shrader
Obviously the Rays will get to decide if Nolan would be able to play 1B, or platoon with Joyce, or DH and have Reynolds play 1B. We would get 6 years of Hellickson in exchange for a couple of years of useless HR's from Reynolds, plus a 28 year old with a 2.4 career WAR and a relief prospect. I added Ruggiano to even up the 40 man on both teams, and so we can have a 4th outfielder since we traded away Reimold.
After getting a general feedback that I am giving up far too litte to pry Jeremy Hellickson away, I am going to go back in and make a few changes to my proposal. I really want pitching, and I want Hellickson, so I will up my offer significantly. It still might not be enough, but hopefully I won't be laughed out of the room.
- P Jeremy Hellickson
- SS Reid Brignac
- 1B Mark Reynolds
- SS JJ Hardy
- P Jim Johnson
- P Daniel Klein
- MI Jonathan Schoop
- Cash considerations
The Rays need offense, especially power bats, and relief pitching. They get our two best HR hitters and our best reliever, none of whom will be on the next good Orioles team. They get two of our top prospects, a RP who could very well graduate by the end of 2012 and a possible replacement for Hardy or Zobrist in a couple of years.
It does seem like a lot to give up. 3 of our best players and 2 top prospects for a SP. Kind of makes you wish some of our own SP prospects would work out every once in a while.