Ok, when I first heard about this Reggie Taylor move I was livid. Designating Phelps (he'll probably be claimed) to bring up a crappy minor league outfielder with Gomes still sitting at Durham? That makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever, which started to make me suspect that things weren't quite what they seemed.
See, the Rays don't make moves that make absolutely no sense. There's usually a reason behind what's done.
Traded Abreu for Stocker? They needed a shortstop.
Traded Perez for Romano? Perez wasn't doing great (and may have had some injury issues) and they didn't bother to verify that Romano wasn't an infielder.
Signed Randall Simon? Lou Piniella was complaining about his offense and campaigning for a veteran bat.
Traded Gaudin for Cash? The Rays needed a backup catcher and possible challenger/future replacement for Hall.
Obviously those were all ridiculously stupid moves. However, there was at least some sort of reasoning behind them despite how inane the decisions were that resulted from that reasoning. This, however, made no sense on the surface. Taylor is no solution at DH and the Rays have two players entrenched in the outfield corners and a successful platoon so far in center field. Taylor adds absolutely NOTHING to this team over the course of the season and even a gross misinterpretation of ability doesn't help the case. Taylor could be a replacement for Sanchez or Hollins if they were traded but if a trade was imminent then they would just wait for the trade to happen then bring up Taylor.
So, I wondered about this but since I couldn't think of any reason for it I had to assume that it was just a moronic move that hurt the team. Jay, however, saw things differently and in a way that made everything seem a lot more sensible. He suggested that this could be a precursor to Gomes being brought up to become the everyday DH and the move was made now since Phelps wasn't going to start in interleague games anyway. Suddenly the pieces start to fall into place. Having Phelps and Perez both on the bench is redundant, even though Taylor sucks he's a left-handed hitting outfielder that gives Lou the versatility he craves. It might not have been the smartest move but it does fall perfectly into the team's way of thinking.
The final thing that made this scenario seem really likely is something that devlrays99 brought up on the Scout.com board. Wade Townsend is expected to sign quickly because of his desire to pitch again competitively as soon as possible after not playing last year. He'll probably get a major league contract which means a 40-man roster spot so somebody will have to go. The timing would work out perfectly, Taylor could get DFA'd and replaced by Gomes on the 25-man and Townsend on the 40-man.
Why not bring up Gomes right now? Well, for one thing he doesn't have the CF capability of Taylor and isn't a plus defender even in the corners. Also, Marc Topkin mentioned that before calling up Orvella the Rays officials had to prove to ownership (which I'm sure means Sternberg, not Naimoli) that he wasn't at risk of becoming a Super-2 arbitration case and ending up expensive and then a free agent a year early. I assume the same thing applies to Gathright (who's on the Bulls DL right now) and Gomes. Since both have had two short stints in the majors they would have to come up later than Orvella to guarantee they wouldn't become Super-2s. It's possible that right now would be a little too early for Gomes to come up, making the delay necessary.
I don't like that it was Phelps instead of Perez being DFA'd but I'm not surprised. Lou loves Perez and his veteran mojo so he gets to stay. It's an annoyance but not a real significant one. The only concern about this whole situation is that it does run the risk of Gomes staying down and Alex Sanchez becoming the everyday DH. I don't think that will happen though, I think Sternberg and his people are involved enough at this point that Gomes will be the choice.
We'll see in a couple weeks but I think this move could turn out a lot better than it appears on the surface.
Having Taylor starting in center tonight is pure idiocy of course but that's just Lou being Lou.