At the time, a lot of Rays fans thought the Garza deal was a sign that the Rays had given up on the 2011 season. Garza is a great pitcher that was a cornerstone of the 2008 and 2010 playoff runs.
But, two months into the season and I think it is fair to say that we should all be very happy with the outcome of the deal.
To date, we have been present for the birth of a Legend (who has fallen back to earth lately but, was red-hot at a time when this team was in desperate need of a spark and this fan base was in desperate need of good news) and met the first player in club history to homer in the first at bat of his first Major League game.
Here’s the best part: Fuld and Guyer (with all due respect to The Legend) were just gravy on the deal. The real meat acquired for Garza hasn’t even shown up yet. Will Chris Archer eventually replace the suddenly frustrating Jeff Niemann? Will Hak-Ju Lee (who woke up this morning hitting .414!) be the long-term replacement for instant-out Reid Brignac? Will Robinson Chirinos finally be the first catcher in franchise history that can, you know, hit? I don’t know, but add even one of those outcomes to the Guyer/Fuld mix and the Rays have a succesful trade.
Meanwhile, the Garza-less rotation is the second stingiest rotation in the American League allowing just 3.47 runs per game (imagine what that number looks like without the Niemann stinkers…). That confirms, in my mind, that the Rays dealt from a position of strength (starting pitching) to shore up some places they were thin (C, SS, Cult Hero).
In the words of Joe Maddon’s fashion inspiration…”Winning!”