I will be watching how the Rays decide to use Brendan McKay. What do you think of making him a closer who could be pulled off first base to close a game, allowing the Rays to use his bat all game and his arm at the end?
-- Bob M., Clearwater, Fla.
I am interested in how they use McKay as well. At this point, I think the Rays are open to any possibilities. I like your closer idea. That would be unique, wouldn't it? Thinking about the logistics of such a strategy, he'd have to run from the field at the end of the eighth so he could have enough warm-up pitches before taking the mound. That could present an interesting situation if he was scheduled to hit.
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The Rays are loaded with high-ceiling prospects ready and eager to step onto the big stage. I hope Brent Honeywell, Willy Adames, Jake Bauers, and Christian Arroyo will all be with the club on or near Opening Day. I believe their skills, attitudes, energy, and fan appeal are just what the club needs to grab a little more national attention and motivate all parties to finalize a stadium deal before the end of the season. But it seems the front-office people are not big risk-takers. Do you think they have the vision to make a bold move to ignite and expand the fan base? I would love to see this year's rookies playing together for the Rays in the prime of their careers when the new ballpark opens.
-- John S., Fairborn, Ohio
I don't know if I'd go so far as to say the front office is against taking risks. In the past, they've shown an ability to look at things differently, and plan accordingly, which has often been unconventional -- and that can be seen as risky. I'm like you, I'd love to see all of those young players with the team this season. However, I don't believe the Rays will force the issue. If the team believes they are ready, all of them, or some of them, could be there. If not, they won't be. There are worse things than another year of seasoning. Having said that, I do believe the group you mentioned is ready to make the jump.
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With the depth of the Rays' starting pitching, what will they do if they don't trade Chris Archer or Jake Odorizzi?
-- Jim G., St. Petersburg
Good question, because the Rays do in fact have a wealth of starting pitching options that includes Matt Andriese, Jake Faria, Honeywell, Austin Pruitt, Blake Snell, Nathan Eovaldi, Jose De Leon, and Ryan Yarbrough. If Archer and Odorizzi are both back, that makes this group even more formidable, meaning some would return to Triple-A.
Earlier in the offseason, the Rays appeared determined to move Alex Colome. Why didn't they trade him, and have they now decided to keep him?
-- Ben G., Tampa, Fla.
Yes, Colome getting moved did seem inevitable earlier in the offseason, and lately that doesn't seem to be the case. But keep in mind, this offseason has been rather stagnant. Once things begin to flow and teams start to get a better idea of what they have and what they need, interest in Colome could heat up again.
Looking at the team's bullpen for the coming season, is there anybody you see stepping up from the Minor Leagues to make an impact? Ryne Stanek or Jose Alvarado?
-- Ken C., Tampa, Fla.
Jaime Schultz. The hard-throwing right-hander is impressive, and he would have been with the Rays last year if he had not battled injuries for most of the season. He's an impressive youngster and I expect him to be a weapon out of the bullpen this season.