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Trading James Shields: Painful, But Right

Rumors have begun to swirl about a possible James Shields trade. Shields, who is having a career year after suffering a down 2010 season, may be one of the year's hottest trade targets. In addition to having good 2011 statistics, Shields has also pitched over 200 innings each year since 2007 and earned his first All-Star election this year.

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Some fans of the team have argued against trading Shields on the basis that he could possibly lead other to signing team-friendly extensions, but I imagine the Rays sign many team-friendly contracts because they cannot sign many other kinds of contracts.

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Personally, I would hate to see James Shields go -- he has been one of my favorite players since his debut in 2006 -- but for the good of the team, Shields may need to go. The Reds reportedly have interest, which is great because the Reds have some power-hitting prospects -- such as Yonder Alonso, a 24-year-old first baseman who has tortured pitchers at every level of the minors. But also, the Rays have good depth at pitching and could field a very competitive team without Shields in 2012 (this is assuming, of course, that 2011 is already not a playoff season).

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Right now, first base is a position of relative weakness in the Rays organization, and James Shields should net at least Alonso. In the meantime, we must appreciate every possible moment of possibly the last Shieldsian era:

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Shields_warmup_medium

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.