Cork Gaines of Rays Index visited Mike Silva for his blog talk radio show NY Baseball Digest. This q&a segment titled Outside the Apple Tampa Bay Rays brought up a lot of hot topics about the ball club. Below is a representation of what was discussed. It is paraphrased and not word for word:
On the Rays player movement this off season:
Cork : we knew this would happen for a long time . There is still alot of talent here in Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton, Jeremy Hellickson, David Price and others.
On Manny Ramirez and what if it does not work out:
Cork: hard to envision it could be any worse than the 9 million the Rays ate on Pat Burrell. It’s a no lose situation. Manny usually starts off good and its a 1 year deal, well worth 2 million.
On the Rays having to count on that Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon to be good this year:
Cork: The Rays need them to score runs. Without these additions there was not a lot of threats in the lineup. Now the Rays can put Manny 4th or 5th, with Damon at the top of the lineup. It slots slots everyone better. Matt Joyce can be 7th hitter and it puts pressure off of him. It’s like getting a closer in the bullpen where it puts people in better places
On losing Pena:
Cork: Pena will be missed for his tremendous glove, and without the addition of Manny, the Rays would of really missed his presence in the lineup. Pena was what kept pitchers honest. Pena made the infield defense a whole lot better. The Rays will miss Pena in the clubhouse. The fans gravitated towards Pena. Now the Rays are going with Dan Johnson playing 1st base. Dan Johnson hits lefties well. May be playing everyday he could be productive. However Maddon likes platoons so he won’t be out there every day.
On Joe Maddon as the manager:
Cork : The expectations have been raised with Maddon as the manager, an old scool type of baseball man, he is a polarizing figure. The team has been productive with Maddon. Its either Friedman picking the right players or Maddon doing a good job with them. At times he over thinks things but overall he is a good manager.
On the Garza trade:
Cork: Rays said they wouldn’t do it unless they got blown away from an offer. Chris Archer, probably won’t see a whole lot of him this year, maybe next year. Chirnos was the key player in deal. As Jaso is not best defense catcher, but gets on base well and is a serviceable catcher. Chirnos was moved from the infield, Rays could move Shoppach and shave payroll.
On Hellickson and the pitching rotation:
Cork: Helickson might be skipped from time to time. Wade Davis and Niemmann are workhorse pitchers, Price is gonna be great, heavy load last year, maybe a tired arm. The key is James Shields, Rays need him to step up, get him back.
On the bullpen and is Farnsworth like putting kersosene on fire?
Cork: Farnsworth has been better the past few yrs. The bullpen is a hodge podge. J.P. Howell will start on the DL and could be back mid May or early June. Rays have 25 guys in camp which are relief pitchers. Rays need 1 or 2 to relief pitchers to step it up, but it won’t be lights out like last year. The bullpen will be ok, not great.
On Soriano in New York:
Cork: It will be intersting, for the most part ok, wonder if things turn sour, how will he react? He is the temperamental type, on edge and sometimes channels anger in wrong way. However, not looking forward to facing him.
On the Ken Rosenthal contraction/moving the team piece?
Cork: contracting with less people as part of the game and less sales opportunities is a silly idea. The Tampa market is untapped for baseball, sports fans haven’t latched on, and building centrally located. It is equivalent of Citi Field being located in the Hamptons. Since the Trop is surrounded by water to get to the games it usually ends up taking most people 1.5 hours to get to the game, its a problem. The Rays will never draw 3million on consistent basis. But, they don’t need to. They can be an in the middle attendance team. It’s a good sports area. Rays don’t have history. Most of the long time clubs all have a history that generatons of fans to build on. The Rays don’t have that. They are now experiencing a good run, 10 year from now it will be something look back on.
On Rays as a playoff team:
Cork: The early thoughts is that they can compete, still looking for bullpen help, Yankees will go out and get starting pitcher help. Rays are a 85-88 win team, break well they could win 92 games. If they get off to a bad start selling of pieces, then a 75 win team.