Fans, GMs are asking too much
By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 20, 2003
ST. PETERSBURG - In the days leading up to the July 31 deadline for nonwaiver trades, every Tampa Bay baseball fan wants to be Chuck LaMar. Everyone, from Vince Naimoli down, has their own ideas about what deals to make that - finally - will make the Devil Rays better.
Reality is that being LaMar is not very fun.
He has a manager who wants better players, an owner who won't let him spend more money to be creative (or tell him how much he'll have to spend next year), critics predicting he won't make it until the end of his contract in 2004 (while wondering how he has kept his job this long) and colleagues trying to "help" by seeking to pry away future stars such as Aubrey Huff, Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli.
Most likely, the Rays aren't going to make any big deals.
They have a few role players, such as reliever Al Levine (St. Louis, Seattle?) and infielders Travis Lee and Marlon Anderson, who could be of use to a contender but aren't going to bring much in return.
They have bigger pieces available, such as starters Joe Kennedy, Victor Zambrano and Jeremi Gonzalez, but it doesn't appear they will get back what they deem fair value - a player, or players, ready to step in at the big-league level.
"I think interest will pick up in a few of our pitchers, but we're pleased with these guys," manager Lou Piniella said Saturday. "And where do we go? You'd almost have to get completely overwhelmed."
Kennedy, for example, is young (24), inexpensive (no arbitration until 2005), and left-handed. He has been considered a building block, so it's surprising he has been mentioned in trade rumors and is unlikely to go anywhere.
If the Rays decided to create a hole in their already thin rotation and trade him - say they thought he wasn't going to get any better, or his drop in velocity was a concern, or his funky delivery was an injury waiting to happen - they at least want to get someone to fill another hole, like a second baseman, shortstop, or third baseman (all of which may be needed). They don't want aging veterans or Class-A prospects.
"It's risky business when you start trading one young player for another young player," LaMar said. "You have to be convinced you're not staying status quo, that you're making the club better. And the only way it can be done is that you're filling a hole that you might think is bigger in coming years. ...
"If we're perceived as asking for too much, so be it. The fact is that our club is our young players. It may be more advantageous in the long run for us to better our club in the offseason than it is now."
FUTURE STAR: Delmon Young hasn't started his pro career - due to the annual waste of valuable time between the Rays and their top pick - but is confident of his future success.
Tagging along at the All-Star Game with brother Dmitri, Delmon told reporters he expects to be taking part in the 2006 game.
Dmitri didn't disagree.
"I'm just setting the standard for him," Dmitri Young said. "I made All-Star, he's going to make a lot of All-Star (games). It's just like in high school - I set the records and he broke my records. I was the fourth pick overall, he was No.1. I got up to the big leagues when I was 22 and he will definitely get up there before he's 22. I'll be hanging on his coattails hard."
HOO-RAYS: There was some talk last week in Chicago of the Rays being in line to host the 2009 All-Star Game, with an announcement possible in the next month. ... A Denver Post poll of players and scouts pronounced Crawford the fastest player in the big leagues. ... Pitcher Matt White - a great guy with bad luck - should be ready for spring training after his second shoulder surgery in 251/2 months.
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