This is one of a few Q&A sessions that I'm in the process of posting. First up is some Q&A with Rays.com beat writer Bill Chastain. Enjoy!
Jake: Good Morning, Bill. How's the Winter Break going for you? For Rays bloggers, like myself, the winter is one of the hardest times to write because you can go days or weeks without anything really eventful happening. What does someone like yourself do when you encounter something like that?
Bill: We really don't have too many of those lull periods, even during the offseason. In addition to providing content for the site, we also provide content for the Sporting News. If I do encounter such a problem I usually call the manager or one of the players just to catch up. Something worthwhile to write about usually comes up within the conversation.
Jake: Before you became the Rays official site beat writer/columnist, what did you do? Did you write for a newspaper, were you in college at that time? Mainly, what did the Pre-Rays timeline look like for one Mr. Bill Chastain?
Bill: I started as a freelancer writing for many different publications. Of note, I wrote for SPORT, Inside Sports and The Sporting News. I began in the newspaper business as a correspondent for the St. Petersburg Times and Evening Independent. Later I wrote columns and covered baseball for the Tampa Tribune. I left the Tribune in 2001 and wrote several books before getting hired by MLB.com in April of 2005.
Jake: On a weekly or bi-weekly basis, you have a "Mailbag" article in which you answer Rays fans' questions. How do you go about choosing the questions?
Bill: One of the most startling things upon taking the job at MLB.com was the amount of email I receive on a daily basis. I receive at least 300 emails a week. I do the best I can to answer some and use others in the mailbag, but the amount of email makes it impossible to respond to all.
Jake: This offseason has been a lackluster one, of sorts, with us only making one somewhat "big" signing in Iwamura and full of minor signings/trades. Should Rays fans expect anything big to happen (a trade or signing of a MLB veteran Free Agent)?
Bill: I think we still might see a trade or a free-agent reliever, but I don't think the organization feels any pressure to do either. They would like to see their youngsters develop this year.
Jake: It's pretty much a given that the Rays will give Iwamura a substantial amount of At-bats, what position should we expect most of those ABs to come from?
Bill: I think he'll be at third base.
Jake: This Spring Training seems to have the makings of a huge "First Base Battle Royal" with at least 4 or 5 candidates for the position, who do you perceive as the odds-on favorite to win the 1B job? Who is the "Dark horse" candidate?
Bill: I would expect Ty Wigginton and Greg Norton to spend most of the time at first with Joel Guzman being a darkhorse candidate.
Jake: What is your personal opinion of all the trade rumors that have swirled this offseason? Is there any that you've heard that just made you confused or laugh out loud? Do you expect the Rays front office to trade Rocco before his long-term deal with us has expired? Do you expect any other trades to be made before the season begins?
Bill: Some of the proposed trades for Carl Crawford have been worth a laugh. This guy is one of the best players in baseball. I think some teams feel they can trade for anybody on the Rays' roster just because they have not been a winner.
Jake: Any ideas on the possible name/color scheme changes that have been hinted at for the Rays in 2008?
Bill: Judging from what the ushers were wearing in 2006, I'm guessing blue will be a major part of the color scheme.
Jake: Any prospects that you think that we should keep an eye on in Spring Training?
Bill: Guzman and Evan Longoria.
Jake: When should Rays fans expect the radio show with Andy & Dave (among others) to start doing their "Countdown" shows?
Bill: I would expect that to begin shortly before the start of spring training.