Do you think that David Price could become to the Rays what Joba Chamberlain was to the Yankees last year? With his stuff, he could really help the bullpen. Would the Rays be hesitant to take him out of the starter role to help them get to the playoffs?
-- Pat. W., Tulsa, Okla.
I don't know if the Rays are planning such a move, but I'd love to see it. We all saw Price's electric stuff during Spring Training and he has not been touched this summer during stints at Class A Vero Beach and Double-A Montgomery. In fact, he just won his 10th professional game (sixth with Double-A Montgomery) on Saturday night when he allowed one run over seven innings. The Rays have maintained that when Price's time comes, he will be brought to the Major Leagues. But like I said, I like your idea.
I can't figure out why the Rays haven't called up Dan Johnson. He has big league experience and can hit for power with a high on-base percentage. I'm not taking anything from any other player, but to me a person who has power and gets on base a lot would help. So what am I missing?
-- Don, Florida
You're not missing anything. Johnson has some nice numbers at Triple-A Durham and he has Major League experience. Unfortunately for Johnson, the Rays have a host of left-handed bats in Cliff Floyd, Carlos Pena, Gabe Gross and Eric Hinske, all who stand in the way of Johnson. Fortunately for the Rays, Johnson gives them a left-handed bat they could bring up if one of the above mentioned were to get injured.
I'm e-mailing on behalf of Blue Jay fans everywhere. Can we please have Eric Hinske back? We miss him and he is finally putting up the numbers he is capable of. Seriously though, it is exciting to see a guy I loved in Toronto turning it around and having a really solid season.
-- Peter S., Edmonton, Alberta
Peter, I'm sure Hinske would get a kick out of your e-mail given the way he is greeted every time he returns to Toronto. I recently asked him why he always gets booed in Toronto. He just smiled and shrugged his shoulders before noting that he figured it all boiled down to the fact that in the four years that followed his rookie season in Toronto -- 2002 -- he never did as well as he did during his rookie season. Hinske seems to be a good-natured guy and takes in stride the booing he receives.
I have been a fan of the Rays ever since I attended their first game. It's been a love-hate relationship. So as a Rays fan, my question is: Do you think it is OK for me to question the team? I know they have a great roster, but knowing what they have done in the past I find myself not wanting to get my hopes up.
-- Lucas, Orlando
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You never know if you will be disappointed come October, but isn't it different to be speculating about making the playoffs rather than wondering if the team can win 70 games? However, given the team's history of losing, I think it's OK to question the team -- particularly if they continue to demonstrate that this year's team indeed is different than teams of the past.
I have been pondering something on the subject of Price's future in the Rays' rotation. I would have to think that Price will be in the rotation by next year. But that would mean that the Rays would have to bump one of their starters and right now I think Edwin Jackson is the weakest link. However, with Troy Percival aging and injury-prone, could you maybe see Jackson becoming their closer? I think he is a young guy who could pitch the ninth with dominance and could be a great closer for years to come. Do you think that could possibly happen or am I just throwing out an improbable scenario?
-- Russell, Cary, N.C.
Anything is possible, and you are correct that someone will have to be bumped once Price is brought to the Major Leagues. But a lot can happen to a pitching staff. In particular, one thing that has gone well for this year's starting rotation is that as a group they have been relatively injury-free. You never know when one of the starters is going to go down. And it will happen because that's what happens to starting pitchers. So it's just going to be one of those wait and see situations.
At this point of the season, are the Rays mentally ready for a September pennant race? Six games each with the Red Sox and the Yankees will be tough. Do we have what it takes to contend, or do we need a big bat or another arm?
-- David J., Philadelphia
I don't believe that question can be answered until they make the playoffs. Having said that, most usually favor the experienced teams in the playoffs. But on occasion, you'll see young teams just blow into the playoffs without really feeling the pressure, like the 2003 Marlins. Again, it's one of those things you just don't know until it happens.
Bill Chastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.