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Rays listen, pass at trade deadline
By MARC TOPKIN and EDUARDO A. ENCINA, Times Staff Writers
Published August 1, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG -- For all the talking, all the thinking, all the projecting and analyzing, when it came down to Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline for nonwaiver trades, the Devil Rays didn't have another deal they considered worth making.
Executive VP Andrew Friedman said he wasn't disappointed at the lack of further action, and was "extremely content" with the three trades he made over the weekend, acquiring relievers Dan Wheeler and Grant Balfour plus two Triple-A relievers, and that the team was better this season and next for it.
"We had a lot of different discussions, some more simple and some a little more elaborate, and when the dust settled nothing had presented itself that made a whole lot of sense," Friedman said.
The Rays held two appealing chips in Wheeler and Al Reyes and set a high price for them because they are under team control in 2008. Friedman also talked about a few other players with different teams, but said "I wouldn't characterize anything as having gotten close."
Players can still be traded in August if they first clear waivers, but Friedman and manager Joe Maddon spoke as if they planned on keeping both relievers around, with Wheeler likely to be used primarily (though not exclusively) in the eighth inning and Reyes in the ninth.
"The bullpen is something we've been focused on for a long time," Friedman said. "There got to be a period of time here where we felt like what we were going to have to do in the offseason to address our bullpen for '08 was going to be very, very difficult. To go into the market and try to find three to six guys, whatever the case may be, is a very difficult thing to do so we feel like we've taken a large step forward with having Wheeler and Reyes going into '08 in terms of solidifying the one area that we feel is our most glaring weakness."
COOL UNDER PRESSURE: Overshadowed by Carl Crawford's walkoff homer Monday was reliever Scott Dohmann's work to get out of an 11th-inning bases-loaded jam. After the Jays loaded the bases loaded with one out, Dohmann struck out Reed Johnson, then induced a flyout from Lyle Overbay.
"I wouldn't want to wish that upon any team, extra-inning games two out of three days," Dohmann said, "but those are times when we all have to step up, but you'll take the opportunity when you can get them."
It was Dohmann's fourth straight scoreless outing over a span of 4 1/3 innings.
MINOR MATTERS: Double-A Montgomery 3B Evan Longoria was promoted to Triple-A Durham Tuesday. Longoria, the Rays' first-round pick in 2006, hit .307 with the Biscuits and led the Southern League with 21 homers, 76 RBIs and 78 runs scored. ... The Rays had no update on the status of Durham RHP Jeff Niemann, who left Monday's game after throwing just five pitches, but Friedman said they were "pretty optimistic" and that Niemann will see a doctor today after the team returns to Durham. ... Class A Columbus RHP Wade Townsend, the Rays' No. 1 pick in 2005 who is in his first season back from Tommy John surgery, had a minor setback with his elbow but Friedman said it was "nothing serious." ... Durham LHP J.P. Howell pitched seven shutout innings Tuesday, yielding two hits and striking out 12.
MISCELLANY: On Thursday the Rays will open an office in downtown Tampa at Park Tower, 400 N Tampa St., that will include ticket and merchandise sales. ... Rays 1B Carlos Pena missed some of the pregame workout to be with his 1 1/2-year-old daughter, Isabella, who fell and bumped her head. ... Pena tied a team record with eight July homers. ... The Rays' 7-20 July record matched their worst July record on club history (2002).