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Report: Cardinals covet Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson

Jul 13, 2011, 6:48 PM EDT

Jeremy Hellickson AP

There’s been some speculation that the Rays would make a run at Colby Rasmus should the Cardinals make their center fielder available.  Now we know whom the Cardinals would ask for in return.  According to the Post-Dispatch’s Joe Strauss, Jeremy Hellickson is the pitcher the team most covets in any potential deal.

And for good reason.  Hellickson entered the season as one of the top three pitching prospects in baseball, and he’s very much in the Rookie of the Year race with an 8-7 record and a 3.21 ERA in 16 starts for the Rays.  He might not quite have Michael Pineda‘s ceiling, but he could be one of the game’s top 30 starters for a long time.

So, even with Rasmus as a potential return, it’s highly unlikely that the Rays will move Hellickson.  He’ll make barely more than the minimum through 2013, and he’s not going to be a free agent until after 2016.  If the Rays were to dip into their stellar rotation depth in order to upgrade elsewhere, then such a deal would be far more likely to involve Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis.

  1. jamie54 - Jul 13, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    Agreed. No way the Rays move Hellickson unless an overwhelming offer is out there. Rasmus does not bump the Rays up more than losing Hellickson moves them down. Wishful thinking and rumors starting to float.

  2. hittfamily - Jul 13, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    Andrew Friedman is way too smart to make this deal. To make this deal, he would have to trade both Hellickson and Upton to make room for Rasmus. Rasmus is a fine player, but I dont think he is worthy of being swapped for Hell Boy. Hellickson was 3-0 in 4 starts last year with an ERA under 3 and has 8 wins in 16 starts with an ERA just above 3 this year. He isnt a great rookie pitcher…. he is a great pitcher. He is a young lefty premiere pitcher who is working for free for the next 2 and a half years. He is worth his weight in gold.

    The Rays dont need another outfield prospect, and that is what I consider Colby to be. He is 24 years old and his numbers are that of good a prospect, not an elite talent. He has good power and a good glove. He doesnt hit for average, and is worthless on the basepaths. He isnt an upgrade for them at center, as his and Uptons numbers are similiar, except Upton steals 40 more bases a year and covers a lot more ground. Desmond Jennings is Uptons replacement, not Colby.

    The Rays need an upgrade at 1st, catcher, SS, and bullpen far more than they need another outfielder to go along with Upton, Joyce, Zobrist, Desmond, and Josh Sale (2012). I think with Matt Moore ready for the majors, Niemann and his injury problems are headed for the bull pen, or on the way out the door. He should be used as bait to upgrade, not Hellickson.

  3. spudchukar - Jul 13, 2011 at 8:43 PM

    First off, Hellickson is right-handed. My take is the Rays may choose to make a separate move with Upton, the Cards already have plans for John Jay in CF. Certainly, I am not impartial, but these are my favorite teams in each league, so my bias is significantly reduced. IMHO, Colby Rasmus is the most gifted young talent in baseball. The question arises regarding fulfillment of talent. I honestly, believe his upside is superior to Jason Heyward, Evan Longoria, Jay Bruce, et al. That said, I have serious reservations as to whether his upside will be reached. HFily, your evaluation of Rasmus, could not be more inaccurate. His potential is limitless. Getting there is the issue.

    Anytime you can get a quality CF for a starter, the move should be made, with few reservations. I like Hellickson, but I am not blown away by his stuff. The Cards are probably as impressed by his toughness as his stuff. If the Rays are convinced Rasmus will blossum in Tampa, then they should probably pull the trigger, assuming Upton isn’t in their plans, and whose trade can fulfill other needs.

    • hittfamily - Jul 13, 2011 at 9:10 PM

      First off, was shooting from the hip, not thinking when I said Hell Boy was LH. My mistake. My arguement remains the same.

      “His potential is limitless. Getting there is the issue. “—-So you agree with me that Rasmus is a prospect, exactly as I said. With Jennings, Sale, Vettelson, and Hak Ju Lee (move Zobes to OF full time), why do they trade a top flight, young, proven starting pitcher for an outfield prospect whose numbers arent as good as your current centerfielder who is only 26?

      So who rides the bench this year? All star Joyce? RBI/SB leader Upton? 3rd rated OF prospect in the country Jennings who was ready last year?

      Rasmus has been a pro for 6 years, Upton 7, and they are both full of potential, but at this point are just above average players. I contend that when you have the best farm system in baseball, you dont trade the cheapest, move proven prospect of them all in Hellickson, for another prospect when you dont have a spot for that player.

      Rasmus is a nice player. He could be great, but it isnt like he is a wide eyed kid straight out of the minors. Hellickson is.

      • hittfamily - Jul 13, 2011 at 9:18 PM

        edit 4th paragraph
        …dont trade the cheapest, MOST proven prospect….

        Thanks for the edit button HBT.

  4. pisano - Jul 13, 2011 at 11:31 PM

    Good luck on the Cards getting this guy. They (Rays ) have control on him and they are a financially strapped team. I wouldn’t look for him to be anywhere but with the Rays for quite a while.

  5. zackd2 - Jul 13, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    Wade Davis? How longer with that 1:1 K:BB last?

  6. paperlions - Jul 14, 2011 at 8:57 AM

    I don’t think the Rays will trade Hellickson either, but….they do have a great farm system, but the talent (of course) is not spread evenly across positions. It would make a lot of sense for them to trade from their strength to address a weakness…and that may mean trading someone like Hellickson for an upgrade at a position. They won’t be able to get a cheap upgrade by trading a back of the rotation starter like Niemann….if you want to get talent that is cheap, you’ll have to pay a high price in talent to get it.

  7. mf44srq - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    From what I hear, Rasmus and his father are headcases. Having met Hellickson a few months ago, I wouldn’t trade him for all the gold in Fort Knox. The kid has moxie and stuff to back it up. Good pitching and defense beat good hitting 80% of the time. Rays would be stupid to take on St, Louis’ problems.

  8. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    I think Rasmus and Upton are the same guy, but he plays ‘scrappy’ for the Redbirds and ‘athletic’ for the Undevil Rays. The Rays don’t seem to care that much for the version they have, so I don’t see them giving up assets to acquire more of the same.

    I suppose Rasmus is 2 years younger and been in the league 4 fewer years, so you could argue that he has a better chance to change, but unless I saw it I would not assume it was going to happen.

  9. cintiphil - Jul 14, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    Rasmus has great “potential” without a doubt. However, he will never make it big in this league because of daddy. Trasmus has his head on backward, thinking he knows better than all of the major league hitting coaches and managers. This is not a case of any hitting coach ruining Rasmus, rather the insistent interference from his father that is impeding his progress. If daddy would leave it alone, the kid might amount to a great player. The Ray’s would be nuts to take this on. Let the birds deal with him as the Cubs had to deal with Milton Bradley.

    However, I look at this as Dusty Baker ruining Wood and Prior for the Cubs. He had nothing to do with it, but hard luck injuries and poor conditioning of the pitchers throwing arms.Today’s pitchers do not have the arm strength to last in this era, as did the old timers who threw double headers etc.. You can not blame the coaches, but you can blame people who interfere with the teaching.

  10. kingbuccaneer - Jul 14, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    Why would we trade our BEST young pitcher for Colby f’ing Rasmus??? Whoever made this rumor up is just begging for some kind of attention.

    I’ll trade Hell Boy for Pujols and the Cards HAVE to pay Albert’s full salary…

    • cintiphil - Jul 14, 2011 at 7:28 PM

      King: Grow up and listen. This is NO rumor. the way these stories get started is from actual conversations between the two G-M”s. When some of the info. gets out (it usually does), nosy reporters get the story, then they start to speculate. That is how it works. Each G-M in this case did have conversations about a trade, but if you know anything about horse trading, they both start at a very advantage position for their own team. Then more serious conversations continue as they get closer to an actual trade. Each G-M will try to gain at the others expense. This all started because BOTH teams are in need of a trade and are talking to various people!

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