Let’s see what kind of magic the Tampa Bay Rays can work this season, after undergoing a season that began with rpomise and ended with a return to the cash pinching ways of yesteryear. You have to give the Rays credit, they get a lot of mileage out of very little. Rays ticket holders aren’t happy about it though, having undergone a money transfusion for a new home and having had their hopes dashed again.
But we can take a look and there is hope for Tampa Bay. The Rays will go into the season with the same basic cast of characters, an offense that just seems to get by, a very able pitching staff, and a defense that just can’t seem to, well, defend.
So who will be missing from this magic formula? Well, B.J. Upton and James Shields both headed for greener pastures, leaving both pitching and defense slightly wanting. On the bright side the rotation still can put David Price on the mound with his 20-5 record to intimidate batters. Matt Moore has a good chance to improve rapidly this year and he will be given the opportunity. Then there’s Jeremy Hellickson, the weirdly fascinating gunslinger with a tendency to keep fans on the edge of their seats.
The offense simply has to get better. Desmond Jennings is great once he gets on base, stealing more ground than anyone on the team. But he needs to reach first base more often. Matt Joyce is projected to fill the #2 spot but he’s not great there. he’d be better further down the line. Evan Longoria is fine in the #4 spot when he can get there but he needs to stay healthy.
The Tampa Bay Rays may be the most maddening of all MLB teams. How they continue to win any games with a constantly shifting landscape of players is a mystery but we fully expect them to be competitive in the AL East in 2013.