A’s and Rays, Two Different Paths?


About a week after the Rays signed Asdrubal Cabrera to play 2B and complete the solid framework of the 2015 Rays team that had great potential to win 85 games, Mathew Silverman (Tampa’s GM), trades away two starters.  A deal in which Yunel Escobar and Ben Zobrist were swapped for A’s catcher Jon Jaso along with two prospects, tears down the possible playoff script for the 2015 Tampa Bay Rays. Oakland, however, gains the depth they were looking for in the starting lineup, and GM, Billy Beane’s trade of Josh Donaldson earlier in the offseason, no longer looks so bad.

According to multiple reports, Yunel Escobar will replace the now Houston Astro, Jed Lowrie, at short in the Oakland Coliseum, while Ben Zobrist will fill the hole at 2B. Just a week ago, Oakland fans had nothing more or less to be excited about for their team’s 2015 season, but now there is. So far this offseason, the A’s have signed Billy Butler, traded for Ike Davis, sent Derrik Norris to the Padres, swapped Donaldson for Brett Lawrie, let Jed Lowrie walk in free agency, and gained two starters from Tampa Bay in exchange for two starters. The word for these maneuvers by Billy Beane is: gamble. Sure the new look A’s is not a lot to get excited about, but it should get the fans to lift their head up in curiosity, for what can the 2015 Athletics do? The 2014 Oakland depth chart sure seemed sexier, but the 2015 roster is more unique, which is what Billy Beane is; unique.

As for the Rays, it leaves the baseball world scratching their heads. To start off the winter of 2014, Joe Maddon opted out of his contract, which put the Rays on a new path. Was it a rebuilding path or slight renovation? The front office decided to hire Kevin Cash to be the new manager, who had a win now attitude, especially with a young star in Wil Myers leading the charge in Tampa, until Myers was traded to San Diego. With that trade, the Rays went from winning now to win in 2016 or later, but then Asdrubal Cabrera signed a 1-year deal to play in Tropicana Field for 2015. Cabrera, ultimately, would play 2B, which allowed Ben Zobrist to fill the outfield void that Myers departure had left. These couple of interesting moves turned some MLB reporters’ heads to the Rays current lineup. With the plan of the pitching rotation being healthier in 2015, and the lineup only having one or two small holes to fill, the Rays had some solid upside for competing in the upcoming season. But now with Escobar and Zobrist moving to Oakland, the path of the Rays is uncertain.

Overall this trade was an A for Oakland because of the counteraction to the Donaldson trade, and the Rays receive a grade of a C+, as they did get a good catcher in Jaso, but they should have gotten better prospects back, despite Tampa’s magic with youngsters in the past.


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