Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Just a Hair-Brained Theory

Here's an odd, but conceivable theory that I've formulated over the last few days:

We've been told that Aki will be returning to the lineup sooner than expected, which is good news for everyone, except for Ben Zobrist who had assumed he'd be parked at 2B for the remainder of the season (don't get me wrong, I'm sure BenZo is happy for Aki as a person and friend, but I'm certain he can't help but feel disappointed that he'll lose the 2B position- its human nature), but this opens up some alternative possibilities:

Aki's coming back in as soon as a few weeks, and suddenly this week Aybar gets a few starts at 2B, allowing Zobrist to re-familiarize himself with the outfield, so what's the big deal, right?

What if there's more to that than meets the eye?
What if Zobrist is getting primed to take over LF in the next few weeks?

Is it too far-fetched to think that with the return of Aki at second coupled with the idea that it'd be a crime to not start Zobrist somewhere, that the Rays are getting prepared to move CC before the deadline?

Its entirely feasible considering that the Gabe Brigade has done a fine job of holding down the fort in RF, and that the Rays, having been assured that Aki can return soon, and knowing they can't afford CC's $10M salary next season anyways, could plug Zobrist into LF for the remainder of this season.

Then headed into next season the Rays trade Aki, thereby freeing up all the salary that Friedman has said they'll need to clear (between CC and Aki's contracts)- and you've got Jennings or Perez in LF with Zobrist as your new 2B for 2010.
Everyone wins.

So just to recap, here's the theory:

This year:
CC to be traded, Aki back to 2B, Zobrist to take over in LF

Next year:
Aki traded, Zobrist to 2B, Jennings/Perez in LF

Possible? What do you think?


JC De La Torre said...

It's definitely possible. I also mention a move of CC in my latest article. I think if the Rays had their druthers, they'd move Burrell or Kazmir first.

DirtbagFan said...

Dropping Pat the Patient would be admitting that they were wrong, and even more importantly, I don't think they'd get anything great in return for him right now...

Kaz would be a risky investment for any other team, and keep in mind that the Rays have him at a very fair price for several more seasons.

Bud Light said...

Not only "hair-brained" but band
wagon mentality on your part...
Its popular to predict they will trade CC because they can't "afford" him!
Save this prediction: besides Longo, CC will be the last one they trade unless someone like Halladay is in the picture !

Ross said...

I think "Bud Light" should have another bud light or two. In a division full of money and with a team full of speed, they can more than "afford" to trade CC. Not only would it be smart to open up some salary cap but could get them more needed positions. A CC trade is the popular statement because its the most logical statement. The way the AL East is playing this year, the Rays need to be looking more long term.

Michael Weber said...

As long as the Rays are in the race CC isn't going anywhere. You don't trade a stud horse midway through the race. I think Stu is much more interested in winning than he is payroll. He was so close he could taste it last season. He's a little more flexible now.

While the Rays have said Aki is coming back soon, don't hold your breath. I don't think we'll see him until after the rosters expand. He's coming off a knee injury, the Rays have to plan for setbacks on that. Willy playing 2nd is just a way to get him in the lineup.

Joel said...

1. Aki isn't even close to a guarantee to come back this year. I know they said he was better than first thought, but it was still a major injury. The Rays don't rush players back, ever.

2. Many people with access to the inside have said Jennings is still a year away. He might get called up next September if he keeps performing, but not yet. The Rays don't rush players, ever.

3. I don't think the Rays are convinced yet or ever that Perez is an everyday guy. Did you notice how long it took for Maddon to put Zobrist in the lineup everyday? He loves his bench, and a great pinch runner who can play all three OF positions makes a bench great.

4. Have you noticed the standings lately? We've gained two games on the Red Sox since the break. We play the Yankees next week. You know how Stu wants more fans in the seats? Do you think trading the Rays' most popular player not named Evan is going to help in the middle of a pennant race? That's bad business, and that's not what Stu does.

DirtbagFan said...

@Bud Light:

First, I'll preface by saying that I'm a CC fan, but I started hollering that it'd make sense to trade him as early as last May, so the concept of band wagon mentality is for other ppl who may be new to the party...

To everyone who insists that the Rays can't trade CC- you'll be the first ones crying when the Rays have to unload several other key players in order to make room for CC's $10M contract...
unloading CC is the most fiscally responsible move the Rays can make...

The Rays need to drop around $10-$15 million dollars by next season, you tell me where else they'll find a place to logically unload that sort of payroll.

Andrew said...

DirtbagFan -- making the playoffs is probably worth an extra $15-$20 million in revenue, so that's an important (missing) part of your calculation. In other words, the team almost certainly makes more money with the expense of CC but the revenue from the playoffs than by cutting expenses and missing the playoffs.

This inflection point is large enough that I expect the Rays to be buyers over the next 9 days, not sellers. Then they can solicit the best offers for CC in the offseason; it's not like he won't still have a ton of value then.

DirtbagFan said...

You're exactly right in regard to CC having nearly the same value during the offseason as he does now, but the point remains the same that there is no way the Rays can justify dedicating 1/6th of their entire payroll next season to one player, especially not an outfielder.

Again you're right about a playoff run generating more income, but Stu has been fairly adamant about bringing the payroll back down to $60M next season regardless.

Michael Weber said...

re: Dirtbag Fan

If we've learned anything since last season, it's that Stu if flexible. He has 2 goals right now: Win a championship and get a new stadium. Just about every time he opens his mouth this year... he's talking about "how close they were last year" and "needing a new stadium."

I don't disagree with you that CC might go... in the off season. I think he's here to stay for the duration of this season. And, honestly, his option isn't a bad value.

I think Stu and the payroll have a lot more flexibility than you may think.

Dustin Fridkin said...

Great post, by the way. I like the positivity about trading CC--if nothing else, it softens the blow when it (inevitably) comes--but, given the extent to which was almost a one-man offense for the Rays earlier this year, losing him mid-season would have to hurt the team, at least at a gut level.

Whoever the Rays might get for him, I'd worry about the psychological impact of a mid-season trade on this young, mostly underpaid team, and its fan base (present company mostly excluded). I've been concerned about the Rays' mental state all year (what, if not mentality, explains the up-and-down season the Rays have heretofore had?), and making a money-driven mid-season trade, I'd wager, would not help in this regard.

I think there's little doubt that the scenario wondered about in the post makes financial sense. It probably makes some baseball sense, too. But, given the tightness of the race and what seems to me to be the importance of this team's chemistry to its success, I think there are reasons to doubt the wisdom of, as Michael Webster put it above, "trading a stud horse mid-stream."

These Rays, if they play as well as they are able, can win this division this year. As to what they might do in the aftermath of a trade as disruptive as the one here contemplated, who knows?