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Rays Q&A: Tribune Sports Columnist Martin Fennelly
Posted Jul 21, 2008 by Martin Fennelly
Updated Jul 21, 2008 at 07:10 PM
Welcome to the Rays Q&A. Submit your question by following the link at the top of the page, or click here.
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Note: The live portion of the Q & A is now over. TBO.com will conduct similar sessions with Tribune columnists and reporters before the start of many Rays’ series the rest of the season. Submit your question now to have it considerd for the next Q&A, and stay tuned to TBO.com for more.
Also, check out Martin Fennelly’s audio Podcast with TBO.com here:
Q: What are the odds the Rays land a big right bat? Nady, Bay, Holliday, etc. Are there any rumblings that a deal is close? Mike Creyton, New Tampa
A: No rumblings, though Nady’s name makes Rays manager Joe Maddon smile a lot. I’d say no chance for Holliday, Bay and Nady better shot, but the overwhleiming sense out of the Trop is that, hey, we’re 17 games over .500 and why mess with the chemistry, especially since the chances of Upton, Crawford and or Pena being the big bat down the stretch increase with each week they don’t get it done. Sooner or later, doesn’t it have to be their turn? As for me, I want that bat - Nady, if need be - so long as the Pirates aren’t asking for a David Price - too high a Price for any guy, especially a rental.
Q: Why don’t the Rays try to manufacture more runs by using the sacrifice bunt? It was used successfully a number of times by the All-Stars on Tuesday. Carlos Pena is not doing well even though his RBIs are near 50. Why doesn’t Joe move him done the batting order which may take some pressure off Carlos to deliver? Chet Harmon, Bradenton
A: Funny, but Pena batted fifth on Sunday. I hate the front-loaded lefty lineup myself. What I hate more is just how few Rays can actually perform that most strange Oriental art of “bunting.” It’s a common pattern in the majors, I guess, heaping big millionaire not paid to lay down little bunts. That’s the key: having guys who want to bunt, who think bunt. They don’t exist at the top of that order.
Q: Bonds?? For the rest of season. Lots of HRs… get him before the Yankees do!! Vincent Pilato, Treasure Island
A: And we can put on a big show! We can use the big barn out back! My mother will make the costumes for his trial! If the Rays took the bait, I’d have major problems. At what price glory? Too high a price in my mind… it’s dreaming anyway. Griffey’s a better fit, legally and otherwise, but not until next camp.
Q: When will the Rays bring David Price up? Does he replace Jackson or Sonnanstine in the rotation? Steve Liddell, Orlando
A: Great question, and I think it’s one the Rays have to answer “yes” sooner rather than later. Jackson was helled Sunday, and Sonnastine has benefited from Rays run production more than anything else. To me, the question is simple: Is David Price, right now, better than either one of these guys? If you decide yes, then he should be here - period. This season is too tempting to waste him. Don’t trade him, don’t use him to get a Bonds or anyone else for that matter, but get him up here when needed.
Q: It seems that the hitting coach is not making ANY impact with any player. Why do most of the “big” not know how to have a level swing. EVERYONE knows when they have 2 strikes an off-speed pitch is coming in the dirt, and they give their golf course swing. Either hit down on it OR Leave it alone. Too many times, 2nd and 3rd and no outs and we don’t score. How about a safety squeeze? Why not let the speedsters bunt more. Harvey Susman, Palm Harbor
A: Harvey, guys don’t bunt anymore. It’s a shame, for sure, and I wish Crawford could bunt, too; he’d hit .350 every season, easy. The lessons, if any, taught by hitting coach Steve Henderson are falling on truly deaf ears. Upton takes too many pitches and Pena swung at more bad balls in the first half than he did all last season. Discipline seems to be fleeting.
Q: The Rays must get another bat in the lineup and an arm in the bullpen. You have to act when you have the opportunity. Make a move now! Mark, Orlando
A: I agree with you. Bullpen and bat. Now
Q: I can’t believe how many people are pointing their fingers at Jonny Gomes, a part-time player, for the teams offensive woes. Upton has been horrible the last 6 weeks and Crawford not much better. Upton should hit someplace else in the order. Where would this team be without Longo? Maybe time for a new hitting coach? I wouldn’t have expected such a pathetic display out last years team. Time to make a move Rays, trade Niemann and Talbot for some immediate help.
A: Neimann and Talbot wouldn’t get as much for immediate help as you think. I don’t think Jonny Gomes on full-time duty would make much of a dent, either. You’re right when you say too much has been aid at his feet. Upton, Crawford and Pena need to pick it up… fast.
Q: What’s going to become of the Rays’ grand idea for a stadium? Are they going to consider putting it in Tampa now? Can you imagine sitting through today’s heat to watch them lose to a bunch of Canadians!! - Mark, St. Pete
A: It’s not the heat, it’s the humiliation. A new site is being explored. Too bad they didn’t do that thousands of years ago, when they decided to put the yard on the wrong side of the bay, you know, the side that’s surrounded by… water (so much for growth potential). My guess is it will never make its way to Tampa. St. Pete types would sooner see the Rays go to Charlotte, Las Vegas… or Iraq.
St. Pete it will be, but I’m not as down on open-air as long as the roof can close in 9 minutes.
Q: What’s your take on Maddon? Is the team legitimately getting better under his direction or is he just at the right place at the right time? - Dave, Brandon
A: I was one of those who wondered about Jumpin’ Joe after some of the candy corn he dished out the past two seasons. Was he too Pollyannaish? I actually remember him calling last season’s first half a good one, you know, after the Rays dropped like 10 of 11 heading to the All-Star break. It was embarrassing, I thought. And yet, the man has ratcheted up his standards and expectations this season, as his team has grown into them - he’s more critical. I can’t see him telling Troy Percival “That’s enough” on the mound, even though Percy is his friend, if this had been last year. That was a window into a tougher Maddon.
I still think he’s too much of a computer guy, trends and all, but I have to give high marks on how he has handled this club, with the exception of an occasional high school detour (see Boston and The Big Fight). And did Joe Torre luck into Buck Showalter’s playoff Yankees in 1996? I don’t think he did, and I’m not drawing comparisons, but the record is the record, and right now the record makes Maddon a runaway train for manager of the year.
Q: Has anyone stopped to consider this team hasn’t been in this situation before??! They look timid to me, maybe because of the guys right behind them, namely the world champs. Will, Tarpon Springs
A: I consider it all the time, and I think the Red Sox and Yankees do, too, and I think they’re counting on the Rays doing some of that themselves, and therein lies the opening for the Sox and Yankees - or their downfall, depending on how the Rays respond. Experience matters in anything, not just sports. It will be fascinating to see how the Rays handle all this heat - and it’s not even that hot yet. Wait until August and September.