Mailbag: Gomes a regular in right?
Beat reporter Bill Chastain answers Rays fans' questions
My question is, Should Jonny Gomes be the Rays' everyday right fielder? He can hit and has some pop in his bat. Use Rocco Baldelli and Cliff Floyd as designated hitters depending on who is the opposing pitcher. I think Gomes has earned it and he is finally healthy.
-- Shawn K., Tampa
I wouldn't rule out Gomes playing most of the games in right field. So much depends on the health of Baldelli and Floyd. Right now Rays manager Joe Maddon is trying to figure out how it's all going to shake out. Baldelli hasn't played since May, Floyd's playing time has to be monitored, and Gomes seems to play better the more he plays. So we'll just have to wait and see.
I think Barry Bonds would be a great fit in the Rays' DH spot. I know that there are thousands who disagree with me, but I think a veteran player like him would be be a nice fit with our team.
-- Andy S., Tampa
Bonds would be a nice fit for a lot of teams. His on-base percentage is off the charts and he is baseball's all-time home run king. The Rays aren't tipping their hand whether they are really interested in signing him. I haven't heard anything regarding other teams being interested at this time. Who knows, maybe the Rays sign him to an incentive-laden deal and see what happens. Yes, Bonds would be somewhat of a distraction, but if this particular distraction translates to more wins, it might work out fine.
What do you think is going to happen with Brian Anderson? Do you see him making the big league roster during Spring Training, or do you think that he will end up in the Minor Leagues? I would love to see him playing in the Major Leagues soon but haven't heard anything on how he is doing so far in Spring Training. Could you possibly give me an update?
-- Becca B., Cleveland
He's in camp and looks great, but he's not really a serious candidate to make the team out of spring based on his recent history. Anderson has been recovering the past two seasons from Tommy John ulnar collateral ligament surgery on his left elbow. The 13-year Major League veteran last pitched for the Royals in 2005, when he made six starts before an elbow injury ended his season. Thus, my guess would be for him to start the season with the extended spring bunch until he's deemed healthy enough to pitch competitively.
I have been so pleased by the offseason moves and the decisions made by the team's management and ownership. This has been the first offseason that they have shown a true desire to become better, and that obviously involves opening the checkbook, which they have done by more than doubling last season's payroll. My question is, do you think in the past the Tampa Bay players have felt like they were trying to play well as a Ray so that they could land a big deal with another team? And if so, do you think they have taken notice of Carlos Pena's and James Shields' deals, and now they will work hard as a Ray so that they can stay with the club long-term and be well-compensated?
-- Andrew W., Jacksonville
I think some of that mentality existed in the past where Rays players felt like they were biding their time until they could move elsewhere. The feeling inside the clubhouse seems to be a lot different now. The young players on the team talk about wearing a Tampa Bay uniform for a long time, which is a pleasant change for fans.
Have a question about the Rays?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Rays beat reporter Bill Chastain for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
As a long-time Rays fan, and a member of an increasing number of fans that have "grown up" with the club, what sort of stock do you think the ownership is putting into the development of a "Rays tradition" within the organization and community? As a younger fan of an even younger ballclub, I'm interested to see things put in place that will make me want to come back to their games when I have kids of my own.
-- Jon R., St. Petersburg
The new ownership seems to care a great deal about developing Rays traditions within the organization and they also seem interested in becoming partners with the Tampa Bay community. Looking at what they've accomplished since taking over the team, it's hard to find fault with anything they've done.
In referencing Roger P.'s comments in a recent mailbag, it's clear he's a glass-half-empty kind of fan. As a lifelong Orioles fan-turned Rays fan, I see this team resembling the George Brett-era Royals, with Willie Wilson, Frank White, etc. Tampa Bay's management team has formed the makings of a team that will compete at the highest level, with components you can't teach, such as speed, great defense up the middle (especially after moving Akinori Iwamura to second), and a top of the line third man to the starting staff. My only concern with this team is the middle relief and closer. The starters going deeper into games will help offset some of this, but I'm afraid Troy Percival isn't the answer. My wild card for closer is Juan Salas, once he gets his feet wet. He has the most electric arm of the group assembled so far.
-- Mickey K., Annapolis
I like the comparison to the Royals, a team I remember well. They were fun to watch and always competed. As for the bullpen, I look at where the pen was this time last year compared to where it is now and I see great improvement. Like anything else, much of what happens with the bullpen will depend a great deal on the bullpen's overall health. And yes, I like Salas' stuff a lot. There are times when he's on the mound when you can't believe what he's throwing -- nasty, very nasty.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.