By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
Published July 31, 2005
ST. PETERSBURG - Chuck LaMar knows he asks for a lot when talking trades. And he knows when all is said and done, he could be perceived as an obstructionist.
The general manager said he doesn't care. Considering the players he is willing to move are rightfielder/DH Aubrey Huff, closer Danys Baez and shortstop Julio Lugoany deal, LaMar said, will have to be on his terms.
"In some of these situations the holdup is probably the Tampa Bay Devil Rays," he said Saturday. "They know we want prospects and they throw out, quote, young prospects. But their definition of young prospects for these kinds of players and mine might be different."
It was a telling comment as the nonwaiver trading period moved toward today's 4 p.m. deadline. The megadeal with the Red Sox and Mets seemed broken and LaMar indicated he might be more inclined to deal one on one.
If that is the case, keep an eye on the White Sox, who have needs on offense and in the bullpen Huff and Baez could help fill.
The Boston Globe, meanwhile, reported the Red Sox balked at the trade with New York and Tampa Bay because the Rays asked for hotshot Boston prospect Hanley Ramirez, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound shortstop with Double-A Portland.
The deal would have sent Huff and New York's Mike Cameron to the Red Sox. Boston slugger Manny Ramirez, Baez and perhaps Lugo would have gone to the Mets, whom the Daily News reported would have absorbed all the $64-million left on Ramirez's contract.
The Rays would have gotten prospects that might have included Double-A pitcher Anibal Sanchez and Triple-A catcher Kelly Shoppach from Boston, and Double-A pitcher Yusmeiro Petit and outfielder Lastings Milledge from New York. Another rumor had Milledge, who grew up in St. Petersburg, going to the Red Sox. If that is true, it's no shock the Rays asked for Ramirez and perhaps top pitching prospect Jon Lester.
LaMar did not address it directly but said, "At the end of the day if we don't make a trade, yours truly again will be looked upon as if we were asking too much. Well, okay. But if we don't get our hands on that caliber of player, we're not going to make a deal."
LaMar said he believes the deal with the Red Sox and Mets still will be discussed, but he put as much emphasis on potential individual deals with the clubs.
Additionally, it is believed the Astros, Cubs and Twins are pursuing Huff, and the Marlins and Diamondbacks are interested in Baez.
LaMar is in an interesting position. He faces wrath from peers for driving hard bargains, and manager Lou Piniella wouldn't mind if the team stood pat.
"I know our front office is trying to do what is best for the organization," he said. "But the kids are playing good baseball and the team chemistry is developing well."
LaMar also could anger Rays fans who cannot fathom trading Huff, Baez or Lugo.
"At the end of the day we came here to win a championship, not to win 60 or 70 games every year," he said. "We've got to find a way out, and if payroll is not going to increase substantially the only way out is to get your hands on more young impact type of players.
"Everyone is tired of 60 to 70 wins and if I have to trade a veteran or two or three to truly give us a chance in the future to win more games, as hard as that decision might be and as bad as the initial reaction might be, for the fans it's something we would be doing for them in the long run."
PINIELLA'S CHALLENGE: Piniella said he wants improvement today from Mark Hendrickson or the left-hander could be out of the rotation.
Hendrickson, who pitched three innings in his previous two starts (11 runs on 11 hits), said he did not mind the challenge: "I look forward to it. I haven't been happy with the way I've been pitching. The one good thing is there are still two months left."
Hendrickson said that as a Blue Jays rookie, manager Carlos Tosca made the same "one start, better make it good," remark.
"I prevailed there," Hendrickson said. "I'm just going to go out there and control what I can control, and that's throw the ball where I want and hopefully everything else will take care of itself."
MINOR MATTERS: Wade Townsend, the Rays' top draft choice this year, pitched 21/3 shutout innings and struck out three for Class-A Hudson Valley against Brooklyn. ... Shortstop B.J. Upton hit two home runs for Triple-A Durham against Louisville. MISCELLANY: Royals manager Buddy Bell accused home plate umpire Joe Brinkman of disrupting Angel Berroa's ninth-ining at-bat and called it "unprofessional." ... Piniella's 1,491 victories tied Clark Griffith for 18th place all time. ... The only other player to hit three home runs at the Trop is Carlos Delgado for the Blue Jays in 2001.