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Maddon, club see short-term gain
By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published November 29, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG - The Rays may have given up a future All-Star in Delmon Young, but manager Joe Maddon and several players said the trade that brought pitcher Matt Garza and shortstop Jason Bartlett could lead to more wins now.
"I hate to lose Delmon but (it's) for us to advance our situation now rather than in 4-5 years from now," Maddon said. "I'm looking at the two good pieces we got back. Both teams had specific needs so it's a nice fit for both sides."
Oft-injured Rocco Baldelli, who with Jonny Gomes and troubled Elijah Dukes are internal candidates to replace Young in rightfield, said he was surprised.
"Anytime the team can improve their pitching staff with a guy like Garza I think you have to do it, and hopefully it's a very positive move to help fill some of the needs we had," Baldelli said. "I think it's a sign the team's trying to make moves and win now."
Gomes viewed it as the Rays dealing from strength to fill a hole. "I think the message is they're looking for the upside and they're tackling our downside from the '07 year which was our pitching, so that's a good start," he said.
Both Gomes and Baldelli said they were eager for the opportunity to play regularly in rightfield, though one could end up the DH. The Rays might also look for a left-handed hitting outfielder to share playing time.
"I'd be very happy to play any field," said Baldelli, who missed most of the past three seasons with injuries.
In trading Young, the Rays broke up what would have been one of the game's most athletic and exciting outfields, with Young joining Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton.
"I was definitely looking forward to playing with him for a while," Upton said. "Things happen. I'm sure he'll do fine."
The Rays expect Garza, Bartlett and, eventually, minor-league reliever Eduardo Morlan to do well, too.
"We think Bartlett can be an absolute front-line guy. And he's got a little savvy about him," Maddon said. "Garza is basically a scout's dream. He's got plus stuff and made a pretty meteoric rise from A-ball to the big leagues, so that probably speaks to his character."
Twins GM Bill Smith said talks started at the GM meetings this month and "escalated" over the past couple weeks. "To get quality you have to give something up," he said. "It was tough to give up Garza, tough to give up Bartlett and tough to give up Moran."