What's up with the Dodgers hiring Gerry Hunsicker? Is that a huge loss for the Rays' organization?
-- Tom K., Seminole, Fla.
Any time you lose a career baseball man like Hunsicker, you are going to feel the loss. He has been a valuable member of the Rays' baseball operations since joining the organization when Stu Sternberg took control after the 2005 season. Not only has he been a mentor to executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, he has also served as a valued sounding board -- always behind the scenes.
I believe that Hunsicker helped nurture Friedman's growth, particularly in the beginning of Friedman's tenure. So compliment him for whatever part Hunsicker had to do with Friedman's development, as Friedman is considered one of baseball's top general managers. The Dodgers indeed are getting a strong addition. I know everybody in the Rays' organization will miss Gerry, and all wish him well.
I think the Rays should keep all the pitching they can. Look at the postseason. Nobody is really hitting. Look what happened to the Yankees.
-- Rob G., St. Petersburg
Yeah, you are right about the hitting during the postseason -- funny how nobody seems to be hitting when the other team is pitching well. In the Yankees' case, I think their bats were a little cold and they ran into some pretty solid Tigers pitching.
As for the Rays, I don't believe they are heading into the offseason looking to trade any of their starting pitching. Look at what happened this season when Jeff Niemann went down, and later when Jeremy Hellickson had to be shut down for a couple of starts. In both cases, the Rays were able to call up a more than capable arm to replace them. First it was Alex Cobb, and he was followed by Chris Archer.
Something Friedman likes to say, and I totally agree with him, if the Rays ever have to go to market to acquire starting pitching, they are cooked. Right now, I don't believe they will trade any one of their starters unless somebody knocks their socks off in a deal.
If Upton leaves, would Shane Victorino be an intriguing option at center field, or would they promote from within -- say Brandon Guyer or Rich Thompson? What do you think?
-- Andrew S., St. Petersburg
Since the Rays rarely offer any indication about what they will do with their offseason moves, I'll play general manager for a moment here. If Upton leaves, I would move Desmond Jennings to center field, move Ben Zobrist back to right from shortstop and I'd put Matt Joyce in left. Sam Fuld would be the fourth outfielder. If Guyer is healthy following shoulder surgery, he certainly could be in the mix, as could Thompson.
Does David Price still have a chance to win the AL Cy Young Award, even with Verlander in the playoffs?
-- Ashley L., Sarasota, Fla.
An argument can definitely be made that Justin Verlander is still the top pitcher in the American League, or in baseball for that matter. But I think Price deserves the award this season. The Rays southpaw had a dynamite season, became the Rays' first 20-game winner and he did so pitching against the American League East on a regular basis for a team with little offensive production. Of note: voting for the award takes place prior to the start of the postseason.
I was really impressed with Hak-Ju Lee in our Minor Leagues during this past Spring Training. When will the Rays bring Lee up from the Minors? Did they consider it in September with the expanded roster?
-- Jon S., Tampa
Lee's talents at shortstop are obvious. When you watch him play for the first time you just kind of shake your head and say, "Wow." But the Rays are cautious about rushing their prospects. I have heard farm director Mitch Lukevics comment countless times that the organization wants the player to be ready enough that he can stay at the Major League level once he gets there and not have to suffer the obvious mental strain derived from going up and down.
So in answer to your question, I don't believe Lee will start the season with the team. Also, I don't believe he was a consideration for the team's expanded roster this year.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.