That said, I'm about to let some negatives flow.
First up: the Aki trade, particularly the take on it by the good folks over here. I'm no fan of the Bay, mostly because it seems to be run by a legion of self-professed stat gurus who eat up whatever the Rays GM is serving. Well, sure, Andrew Friedman is a solid GM, but for a team with a small budget and uncertain window of opportunity as a consequence, he's looking more like Steve Phillips than Theo Epstein. Lets review:
Edwin Jackson for Matt Joyce? Depending on what the purpose of the trade was, the verdict is still out on this one. Insofar as the Rays acquired a bat we needed to play RF last season, thus filling a hole....it was a BUST. And before you ask, no, I do not think turning over a corner OF position to a platoon of journeyman OF is a viable alternative. Ever.
Signing Pat Burrell? I'm sure Pat's a great guy, but he didn't come up through the system like the other guys on the Rays I root for, soooo.....let's just say that if I turned in a job performance like that this year, I'd be unemployed ex post haste. He's a DH-type with limited defensive skills. AND Adam Dunn would have been cheaper, better, and younger. I don't care if he's a lefty and Burrell is a righty. This was the wrong move.
Kazmir for a bunch of dudes? I understand why, but I don't get the what, as in who did the Rays get in return? I know, guys like Alex Torres, Matt Sweeney, and Sean Rodriguez....but this leads me to the Aki trade.
This trade is not an example of "exploiting market inefficiencies." This trade is an example of squandering one's resources. If Rodriguez is a key acquisition in the Kaz trade, this still means that they now have increased the glut of middle infielders in the organization (Bartlett, Zobrist, Brignac, Rodriguez, Aybar, Beckham). Getting rid of Aki for a bag of balls may be a start, but it continues a strange trend of redundancy. Are we trying to win this year? Next year? In 2020? Even if Zobrist takes over in RF and Brignac goes to 2B...why are we trading for depth where we already have it? I included Aybar in this list only because the Bay guys did...but who on earth believes Aybar is a solution defensively? He's got a great bat but would seem limited at 2B. Do we send him away for a A-ball arm and some pine tar? Why can't we just order pine tar and ball instead of trading away players for these things?
No matter how you slice this...what is going on? And all you could get in return was a middle innings arm? And what holes does this fill? Besides landing us some extra batting practice balls, of course.
And before you ask: yes, I do believe CC is next on the block the moment the Rays fall out of the race next year, if they fall out, which I hope they don't. And yes, the D-Rays Bay guys love this possibility. And yes, I am decidedly on the other side of the aisle on that one as well.
At some point you have to put your chips on the table and try to win. The time for the Rays is now.