A day after addressing the future of the Rays' pitching, GM Chuck LaMar balks at an opportunity to add offense.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published August 1, 2004
ST. PETERSBURG - General manager Chuck LaMar defended the decision to not add offense to the Devil Rays lineup and said a hitter could still be acquired this month.
LaMar was talking with teams right up to Saturday's 4 p.m. deadline - they even had the commissioner's office on the line to keep track of time - but did not have what he believed was the right deal.
He did, however, have specific enough conversations that it is possible, maybe even likely, that they will be able to make a waiver acquisition this month.
"The idea was to improve this club not only for this year, but for the coming years as well, and I think we will still have the opportunity to do that in the month of August," LaMar said.
Manager Lou Piniella has been outspoken about the need to add a veteran hitter to a lineup that ranks among the least productive in the American League. LaMar said the team explored several options, and that neither creativity nor finances was an issue, that ownership was willing to take on some payroll, but it was simply a matter of not having the right match.
"I was just not going to make a trade to show I'm doing something," LaMar said. "If it wasn't truly going to help the club win games this year or win games in the future than we just were not going to make the move. We're going to continue to try to improve the club this year."
Piniella, after a long afternoon talk with LaMar, said he understood the situation.
"According to Chuck, we might be able to do something in August," Piniella said. "Hopefully that will be the case. I am appreciative that as an organization we did try to get some offense in here."
To be traded after Saturday's deadline a player must either go unclaimed on waivers by all other teams or dealt to the team that claims him. LaMar said it was also possible the Rays would be able to trade some of their players other teams expressed interest in. Outfielder Jose Cruz, who is in the first season of a two-year, $6-million deal, would be a likely candidate.
Though the only move the Rays made was to trade their top starting pitcher, Victor Zambrano, for a top-notch pitching prospect, Scott Kazmir, LaMar objected to the characterization that they chose the future over the present and were abandoning efforts to win this season.
"The best trade that presented itself was to help this club in the future," LaMar said. "But don't think we made this grand choice. In the ideal situation we would have done both. I would have loved to help this club win as many games as possible this year and yet make the Kazmir trade too."