The Hit Show version 2.0
Jonny Gomes has played his way into the hearts of many Rays fans; diving unnecessarily, hitting mile long shots, misplaying routine fly balls so poorly that you can't help but chuckle at the absurdity, and really all that was cute when we were losing day in and day out. It was all part of finding new ways to lose, but now we're winning, almost to the point of no longer being in the cellar. Jonny F'n Gomes being Jonny F'n Gomes is no longer delightful or comical; it's pathetic.
Gomes is struggling hard, since the All-Star break his OBP is below .300, he looks awful at the plate, and is apparently a fan of John Calvin and predestination since he makes up his mind to swing or not before the pitch is made rather than an in progress decision. The Nick Swisher comparisons have gone to hell, Swisher has an idea of what a bad pitch is, Gomes on the other hand seemingly falls into the trapdoor to every pitcher with a decent breaking pitch and the ability to locate down and away.
All of this brings me to suggest something that I wouldn't have previously, but at this point it's for the good of the team. Although somewhat radical, and going against what I've previously thought, perhaps something I'll regret suggesting as soon as tomorrow, but here it goes...
It's time to resurrect Elijah Dukes.
Yes, the guy in Andrew Friedman's freezer, next to Vince Naimoli's stack of hamburger patties. Dukes is a public relations nightmare, or at least was when the Rays sent him into purgatory in late June. For the large part he's been hidden from the spotlight, only recently rising to the attention of the fanbase as he coached first base for an Independent League team thanks to Fred McGriff.
There would likely be a backlash against the organization from Tampa fans, some of who think every baseball player should be like Carlos Pena, they should, but they aren't, and the media coverage has turned Dukes into a Hannibal Lechler character, he was wrong, but he wasn't the only one wrong. However this is the same organization that was fiddling with the idea of putting makeup on a pig and trotting Naimoli back into the public light last off-season.
Americans love to see rags to riches stories just as much as riches to rags, this case would be no different. Dukes has friends in the clubhouse, if nowhere else, and won't bring back anything of equal value. Sure the Rays have a few minor league outfielders in Jason Pridie and Fernando Perez but neither would likely out produce Dukes next year. Rocco Baldelli is a question mark even more so when you consider the foolish retirement talk. Gomes as mentioned isn't that hot, and Joel Guzman is pretty green himself.
Dukes posses marvelous raw power, and when combined with Carlos Pena, B.J. Upton, and a hopefully power improving Delmon Young could make the long ball an even more common occurrence, the best part however is his keen plate presence. His issues were a low BABIP and an absurdly high groundball rate (44%) that and of course the off the field issues.
It's been two months without incident, sadly that's a long time, nobody has spoken of him unless it's a joke about text messaging pictures of Delmon Young's arm to opposing baserunners or something about Maddon not being a punk. Legitimately if Dukes' seed stays out of urethras, his gun out of text messages, and his face out of mug shots I'd welcome him back.
It wouldn't be a second chance, which passed a few years ago; it would be the last chance, and for some reason I think it would be a risk worth taking.