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Tampa Bay Rays: Non-Player Moves that Should be Made

By David Egbert
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Some important non-player moves that the Tampa Bay Rays should seriously think about making for 2017 that could benefit the team.

Not every important move a team makes in the off-season involves players. Often they involve small but key moves that impact the team’s makeup and how it goes about its business on and off the field. Here are five such moves that could influence the Tampa Bay Rays 2017 performance.

1. Hire Jonny Gomes as a first base coach. Gomes is currently out of work after finishing up a 13-year career in 2015. He wants to stay in the game and a position in the Tampa Bay Rays’ organization would be perfect.

Gomes would be a much needed voice in the dugout and the clubhouse. He has always played the game the right way and would be a solid influence on the Tampa Bay Rays younger players. As the first base coach mostly collects batting equipment and pats the base runner on the butt, his lack of coaching experience won’t hurt.

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2. Appoint Rocco Baldelli assistant general manager. Baldelli is the current first base coach and has worked in the Rays’ front office. He is an intelligent guy who knows the game and how to play it.

Currently, in my opinion, the Rays spend too much time on cyber metrics and not enough time on a players makeup and how he plays the game.

It is very interesting that when Andrew Friedman joined the Rays he hired baseball veteran Gerry Hunsicker to help evaluate players on the field.

Friedman hired him again when he went to the Los Angles Dodgers. Matt Silverman needs to use Baldelli in a similar fashion.

3. Upgrade the team’s strength and conditioning program. The Rays beat me to the punch on this one by firing strength and conditioning coach Kevin Barr this week.

I don’t know a lot about strength and conditioning but when almost every position player except Evan Longoria spent significant time on the disabled list in a non contact sport, something must be wrong.

Even Longoria admits that he got outside help last season to get stronger and be in better shape.

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4. Bring in situational hitting/base running coach. The Rays seriously need to upgrade their situational hitting and base running.

They have Jamie Nelson listed as a major league coach. His duties are described as helping out with hitting and catching.

Given how poorly both of those areas have played out, Nelson should probably move along. Finding a former player, who knew how to get on base, move runners along and run the bases to take his place would seem appropriate. A Carl Crawford/Randy Winn type would be ideal.

5. Bring in a former big league catcher to help minor league prospects. The Rays have three former first round draft picks in catchers Justin O’Connor, Nick Ciuffo and Chris Betts. All of them have struggled and none have progressed past AA.

The Rays need to bring in a former big league catcher to work with the trio and figure out whether the Rays have something here or need to look elsewhere for young catchers. Bengie Molina or his brother, and former Ray, Jose Molina would be ideal in this role.

None of these moves are earth shattering but combined they could go a long way toward making the Rays a better team. Too much of baseball today is staring at a computer looking at a players WAR numbers.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Dickerson's First Season in Tampa Bay

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Teams like the Rays need more people like Jonny Gomes and Rocco Baldelli to help shape a team that knows how to win and not just take the field for 162 games.

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