Let's start with how the Rays handled the trade. The Rays were way behind the curve from the get go on this one. News first broke via an Angels beat writer on MLB.com and spread like wildfire via social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. So instead of getting a call from the GM, reporters hearing about the rumors had to confront Kazmir who actually asked if they were "joking." Joe Maddon didn't have anything to say. In fact, the team said there wouldn't be an announcement until after the game. Even though he was all but gone, there sat Kazmir next to David Price on the bench during Friday night's game.
"We have depth in starting pitching," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "And while it would be a great luxury to keep a deep reserve there, our budgetary constraints as a low-revenue club dictate that we allocate our resources to bolster areas where we may not be as deep and make sure that we can expand our competitive window."
That quote makes perfect sense, unless you're talking about a team that was just 3.5 games behind the wild card leader at the time the trade was made. If you take them at face value, that means the Rays place their "budgetary constraints as a low-revenue club" over being successful on the field. That's where my problem lies.
I'm fine making moves to help make budget and keep the payroll down. I applaud ownership for what they've been able to do so far. I'm fine with tough off-season moves. I'm fine with not picking guys up during before the trade deadline. But this trade, at this time, just tells me that the budget trumps giving the team a chance to win.
The Rays can talk all day and night about "future" considerations when it comes to trading Kazmir. But, they're discounting the fact that they may not always be in a playoff race. This is only the second time in the history of the team that the Rays have contended so late. You can have all the talent in the world, but a couple of ill-timed injuries, a rough schedule, or a division opponent getting red hot all make it tough to contend year in and year. Just as last year was special, this year is special.Why waste it by unloading Kazmir right now? I have no doubt there are teams that would be willing to take on his salary next year for the chance to see the Kaz of old.
Despite what people keep writing, the Rays did not have to make that trade on Friday. That trade could've waited until the off-season. But the Rays had a willing partner that was willing to absorb the rest of Kaz's salary this year, so they made the move. They save money on this year's payroll and say that Andy Sonnanstine and Wade Davis will do a fine job of replacing Kaz in the rotation.
The Rays proved to me on Friday something that I didn't want to believe: they're the same team they always were. My eyes were opened up a bit and the luster of the "Rays" has worn off. This team considers the budget more than they do going to the wild card. Last season caught them off guard, just as it did the fans. They thought a couple of well-placed pieces could get them over the top. Instead they were left realizing they had too much money tied up in a team that wasn't in first place. So, they sold.