This is probably the easiest argument in the long, storied, history of Point-Counterpoint. I can make the entire case for keeping Shields in two words: First. Place.
Thanks for coming, don’t forget to tip your waitresses.
Seriously. We are in first place thanks, in large part, to a dominant starting rotation. Why are we even talking about messing with that? To get more minor-leaguers for our already-stocked farm system? Awesome. Lookout Southern League, the Biscuits are coming for a string of titles. (Can someone send Brendan a T-Shirt from those Florida State League Titles the St. Pete Devil Rays won in the late 1990s, perhaps that will sate his desire for minor-league domination).
Sure, we already have the arms to replace Shields…eventually. But we obviously don’t have the arms to replace him RIGHT NOW. If we did, do you think there is any way on earth that we’d be subjected to a second start by Andy Sonnanstine? (Coming to a Trop near you!)
Do you really want to see Chris Archer breaking into the big leagues in the midst of a pennant race? Perhaps Matt Moore can transfer his dominance from Montgomery directly to Replica Yankee Stadium. That always happens.
In fact, the Rays’ pipeline of starting pitchers is exactly the reason we need to let Shields finish his contract. His departure in the offseason will not hurt. His departure midseason will hurt.
So, I say, ride the horse that brung you. Let’s give Shields one more shot to get this franchise over the last hump. Forget emotional attachment (even though I was present when Jamie Shields — he didn’t ask us to go to James until he was in his second Major League season begging the question, would he have been known as “Big Gamie Jamie?” — made his debut). I say keep Shields because the FIRST PLACE Rays are winning when he is pitching.