Down now to 14 sleeps, you might have already grabbed your Outlook Calendar and blocked off March 31, April 5-7, July 5-7, September 23-29, and the month of October, to make sure you haven’t planned any dental appointments, garage sales, or walkabouts for those days and nights.

If you’re inclined to schedule a deposition or a meal or two out between July 19 and July 28, go ahead, but maybe think about cramming all your extracurriculars into the four-day All-Star Break that precedes that stretch, and not just because the hated Baltimores and Yankees come in for three and four to open the second half, after which Texas heads out on a brief road trip to Cleveland.  There’s another huge baseball thing happening in those 10 days.

It may run counter to your normal Great Game sensibilities to hope Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Kevin Youkilis have something left, to wish Mike Napoli and Ryan Dempster and Koji Uehara the best as their new team comes off its worst season since 1965, to pull for the Orioles to extend that shocking spike at least another year, and to jump on that crazy Blue Jays bandwagon, but this is the year to pick a few of those AL East clubs to get behind a little bit, at least for the first half of the season.

You may be disappointed that Texas didn’t trade for Justin Upton.  You may be upset that the Rangers didn’t find a way to prevent the Royals from being the ones to pick up James Shields.

But it’ll all be OK if Tampa Bay, traveling to Toronto for three and hosting Boston for four and New York for three coming out of the Break, fails to gain any meaningful ground in the East over that July 19-28 stretch, leaving the Rays three days to act on any baseball operations groundwork that had been laid that month, if not this winter, or last year.

Join me in pulling for Tampa Bay to be 11 games out of a Wild Card spot and in fourth place in the East at the end of that stretch of games to open the second half, because that’s when the club is going to seriously entertain trading David Price for perhaps the first time.

That’s when the Rays could consider accelerating the plan to build long-term around the very controllable Evan Longoria, Desmond Jennings, Wil Myers, and Matt Moore, plus whoever comes back in the haul they get for their number one starter, which if it comes from the Rangers is surely going to include some of what they would have had to give up for Upton, or for Shields, but didn’t, surely at least partly in the name of asset allocation.

And obviously, having gone down the road with Rays on Shields, Texas has a good sense of which of its young players Tampa Bay likes.

This is the year (or at least the first half) to make Luis Sardinas your favorite Rangers prospect.

I don’t know how reputable the Miami New Times is (sounds like that market’s equivalent of the Dallas Observer, perhaps?), and you know my baseball sensibilities enough by now to understand that I’m not going to speculate on this morning’s PED story until it escalates a bit, and even then I’ll do it reluctantly at best, preferring for now to bury my head in the sand and imagine the Rays losing seven of those 10 in late July and rolling their sleeves up with the crew at 1000 Ballpark Way, both trying to figure out a way to help themselves serve the big picture and build toward something historically significant, though in those two clubs’ cases involving very different objectives, which is what makes blockbuster trades most often work.

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