Jumping over the .500 mark for the first time since being 1-0, the Tampa Bay Rays are playing great baseball. And this just might not be a tease.
If anyone looked at the schedule before the season started and looked at the nine-game home stand in June against three powerhouses, nobody would have guessed a winning stretch. I wonder what the Vegas odds would have been on going 8-1?
Lance McCullers is the only pitcher in that stretch that got the best of the Rays. And that game was a 1-0 pitch fest. They beat three-time Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer and single Cy Youngs CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander. And, they did it with their pre-season ace Chris Archer on the disabled list.
For Rays fans, it’s time to start scoreboard watching. But, you’re going to have to stay up late to pay attention. Sure, it’s just the beginning of July, but why can’t we start dreaming of a wild card. And, let’s face it, teams are playing for one spot. The Yankees and Red Sox have sewn up one of the spots. Seattle is firmly holding the second card at this point. Oakland is there. Then comes your Tampa Bay Rays.
All along, this was supposed to be a rebuilding season. As the season got rolling, people couldn’t get enough of the tank jokes. Inexplicably, Tampa Bay dumped Corey Dickerson. They traded Steven Souza, Jr. out of the blue. Finally, they traded Jake Odorizzi, but got what many felt as nothing in return. And, all of this was after they traded Evan Longoria. The Rays were bathing in barbecue sauce waiting for teams to pick them apart like raw meat.
Might the Rays become buyers and not sellers? Do they need to?
Now, we have one month to discuss what the Rays next moves will be. Buy or sell? Or just stand pat? You have to figure there will be trades. Adeiny Hechavarria is a veteran without a role. He will not be on the roster by month’s end. Little drama there.
Now, let the debate begin. Start with Wilson Ramos. Based on current voting, he will represent the Tampa Bay Rays in the starting lineup for the American League All-Stars. Could the Rays trade him to Washington during the All-Star Break, making the midsummer classic both his Rays final game and his Nationals return home?
What about Chris Archer? His injury has tapped down trade talks. But, if he can return in the next week or so, things should heat up. My money is still on Archer going to the Cubs. Seems too easy. Reunite Arch with Joe Maddon and Jim Hickey. Cubs need pitching. And, they have a key trade piece that the Rays need in catching prospect Victor Caratini.
Which brings us back to Ramos. Seems convenient that the Rays could trade Archer and potentially get a starting catcher. Could they trade Ramos and get a starting pitcher or two? Maybe somebody like Seth Romero and/or Jefry Rodriguez?
I don’t look for the Rays to be quiet in July. They will continue to surprise teams on field. And off, their front office will remain busy. They are proving you can rebuild and win at the same time.