Ask Gary: Is there room for Longo and Kiermaier?

by Gary Shelton on March 18, 2017 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays

travis pendergrass

Kiermaier is poised to be the face of the Rays in the years to come./

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Knowing how cheap the Rays are, were you surprised they offered Kiermaier roughly $9 million per year for six years even though it makes perfect sense for them to keep him? And now that they have do you think the likelihood that Longoria will be gone before next year is increased when his no trade clause kicks in? I mean to keep their payroll in the current range with those 2 guys getting around $20 million combined would leave only chump change to pay the rest of the team.

Larry Beller

Of course I was surprised. Sadly, we're all surprised any time the Rays add to their payroll. I honestly feel that Kiermaier had outplayed his commitment from the team, and the Rays felt their was no way they were going to let him go.

The Longoria question is a good one. I think we'd all hate to see Longo go, but he's 31, and his potential return has never been greater. I think it's obvious the Rays would want to look elsewhere so the payroll doesn't swell. Now, the Rays spend $71 million in payroll last year, which means they'd have about $51 million beyond Kiermaier and Longoria to build. That's not a lot when you consider neither of those two pitch.

Who knows? Perhaps with their eyes on a new stadium, the Rays have decided to increase payroll. But I doubt it.

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I'd hate to see Longo go. I know Pete Rose made some noise a couple of weeks ago that Longo deserved to be on a better team. Right, Pete. Let's just make everyone a Yankee, huh? Longo has been paid well over his time here. I'd like to see that time continue. You?

I was looking at the MLB schedule and it struck me how few doubleheaders there are these days.  It seems like they were much more common when I was young.

What changed?
 

Jim Willson

The money changed. If you look at the average gates from when we were kids, teams didn't ask to draw 2-3 million fans. They'd have a doubleheader for the same reason they had cap day. It was a reason for the average guy who come to the park.

In a way, it's like the old double-features you had at the movies. (No, not the drive in.) They would get people in, show them two (bad) movies, and make their money on popcorn.

I think the attention span of the average fan plays a part, too. Who is going to sit for eight hours and watch baseball?

By now,  I'm sure you've heard that on June 10, the Rays will play a single-admission doubleheader against the A's. It'll be the first in the majors since July 16, 2011 and only the second in 20 years. I expect you to be arguing strikes in the ninth inning of the second game.

Of all the sports that you've covered over the years, which sport has the dullest, least imaginative athletes as far as interviews are concerned? I nominate golf. Other than Lefty Mickelsen and maybe Bubba Watson and John Daly, who does that sport have that makes you interested in what they've got to say about anything?  The days of Arnie, Jack, Lee Trevino, and Chi Chi are long gone for that sport. 

Rick Martin

I think there are a lot of good interviews on the golf course. The thing you have to do is find time and access.

To me, the dullest athletes are race car drivers. That's probably because it isn't my favorite sport. I've told the story: When I was covering a Talledega race in the 80s for the Columbus Enquirer, there came a moment where everyone stood in the press box and gasped. To this day, I have no idea what happened. The lead didn't change hands, there wasn't an accident, and a pretty blonde didn't blow kisses to the press. I've always found drivers to be accommodating; I just couldn't speak the language.

(In my history covering the Grand Prix in St. Pete, I had interviews with Mario Andretti, Paul Newman, Dan Wheldon and Helio Castroneves. No complaints there.)

I think the common thread here, Rick, is that we find athletes dull when we don't care about what they're saying. I could give too hoots about anything a cricket player has to say; I played it once, and I was bored out of my head.

You know who's good even if their sport is fake. Pro wrestlers. I've gotten to know a few over the years. I had a great conversation once with Jimmy Hart about rock 'n roll music. I've talked to others about why so many wrestlers die young.

I think boxers are good. I think fencers are dull. I think tracksters are interesting; I think field hockely players are dull. You get it? If you don't like the song, you aren't going to sing along.

The Rays are talking about a new stadium, a “reimagined” stadium. From what I gather they are looking for ideas from the fans, but also have some concepts come to light – a 365 day a year use, no 3rd deck, “passes” for a period of time that allows unlimited access during that time including games, etc. I’m sure you’re familiar with many of these.  What do you think about the idea, the concepts that have been publicized (perhaps run up the flagpole), and if you could reimagine a baseball stadium, what would some of your ideas be?

 Cecil   DeBald

Okay, this one might be hard for the Rays, but I'd very much like a skilled team playing on the field. Nothing like it.

I love water in the outfield. I'd like ivy on the fences. I'd like a canyon like the Angels have. I'd like a wall like Fenway has. I'd like monuments like the Yankees have. The Rangers have a canyon effect in their stadium.

One of the great things the Bucs did with their stadium was put that ship in the end zone. Why? Because it's distinctive. It tells you where you are.

Usually, teams build their own lore. The Pesky Pole in Fenway happened because of history.

I'd say this, too. No matter what the Rays do, no catwalks. That always smacked of Arena Baseball to me. Jose Canseco once talked to me about bases that light up and home runs that scored extra if they went a certain distance.

I like close access to the field. I like water and greenery. I like a reasonable home run distance. But as long as it's a nice joint, with bathrooms and water and is well lit, the rest of the frills can take care of themselves, right.


For an MLB pitcher, which is more important- velocity or location?

Scott Myers

That's an old debate, Scott. I think you can add movement to the debate. Obviously, a pitcher would prefer to have all three.

I've seen more pitchers win with location than with velocity. There have been too many high-90s pitchers who give up deep, deep home runs.  I know a radar gun wows us all when it approaches triple figures, but someone like Greg Maddux, who threw fast but not Randy Johnson fast, lived because he could nibble all night long, and by doing, he expanded the strike zone.

I don't know if it's the pitchers or the guns, but there are a lot more guys tickling 100 mph than there have ever been. And on occasion, they can blow a hitter away. But especially for a starting pitcher, I'd rather have location,

Do you think that Josh McCown would want to come back to Tampa and backup Jameis?   Think the Bucs are interested?'

Jim Willson

I think the Bucs would prefer a better, younger quarterback than Josh, to be honest. They've dabbled with Josh, and he won one game out of 11 for them.  His head would be fine for the job, but I wonder how much is left in his right arm. I think he'd come, because the options aren't that good. But I think the Bucs would prefer to shop.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller March 18, 2017 at 6:18 am

Regarding the Rays, I’m in the camp of not getting rid of productive players so for me keeping Longoria is very important. He is coming off a very productive year and 31 is not terribly old for a baseball player. Now if they were to trade him and get something back that will help the current team and they have a guy in the farm system that is ready to take over third base, a deal like that would make sense. But that has not been the Rays way in the past. They typically trade their high payroll guys for a future that never comes. Up till now the Rays have only allowed themselves 1 position player who makes a big paycheck over a long period so I can see the wheels turning in the front office to craft another Logan Forsythe type deal with Longoria which I think would be a terrible move.

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Larry Beller March 18, 2017 at 2:37 pm

Just 1 more comment on this subject. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Rays are thinking that Matt Duffy will be the guy to replace Longoria assuming Duffy makes it to the field with his bad heel. There is a stock pile of shortstops in the minors that eventually will have to brought up so moving Duffy back to third would be the logical move. And I think they would like to trade Longoria in the off season to make that happen. This would accomplish 2 things. Payroll would be saved and they would potentially get a younger, cheaper player in the trade that would be under team control for several years. We all know how important saving payroll is to the Rays. What do you think?

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