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Pro Sports Wrap - Sports Personality of the Day: Talor Battle

2011 Season Preview: Tampa Bay Rays

February 17th 2011 15:47
The Tampa Bay Rays lost a lot of talent this offseason because the team needed to shave some payroll. They lost their best player, Carlos Pena, Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and five good relief pitchers. Their bullpen is completely different, and they lost key players and leaders. The fact that Crawford and Soriano- two of their best players- went to their division rivals in Boston and New York respectively only adds to the pain in Tampa. This team lost a ton of talent and the guys they added were Manny, Damon, Joel Peralta, Kyle Farnsworth, Casey Kotchman, and Felipe Lopez. The losses far outweighed the arrivals.

I really don't like this team at all. I can't tell you where I think they will be until I do my full breakdowns and final predictions in March. What I can tell you is that you shouldn't be shocked to see this team fall off. They are lucky that the Blue Jays lost quite a bit of pitching talent, but I could still see them in a tough battle with those two teams. It will certainly be tougher than what they have been used to in the past three seasons.

I hate their bullpen. It is awful. When Kyle Farnsworth is your closer, then you have some serious issues. This is arguably the worst bullpen in major league baseball. They don't even have an established closer. Andy Sonnastine and Joel Peralta are solid, but I don't see anybody that can at least qualify as average beyond those three guys. The Rays have nowhere near the solid bullpen they used to have. This is a pathetic pen. Sonnastine may or may not be in the pen. We'll see what happens there.

Their one savior is their pitching staff. David Price has blossomed into one of the best pitchers in baseball, and James Shields doesn't get enough credit for what he does anymore. He is the team's new leader, he pitches deep into games, and he will definitely bounce back from last year. Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann are solid young pitchers, and I love the upside of prospect Jeremy Hellickson. That guy is amazing. I can't wait to see him in action.

I hate the Rays' infield. It isn't quite as bad as their bullpen, but it is terrible. Reid Brignac, Dan Johnson, and John Jaso are poor players. Sean Rodriguez is alright, and the one thing that saves them is that they have Evan Longoria. He is now the best third baseman in baseball, but his numbers will go down this year with less talent in the lineup. He'll still be great though from a non-statistical look. Longoria is a stud.

The outfield is the strength of the team. BJ Upton is a disappointment year in and year out, so I hope people stop expecting so much on him. Upton isn't a great player, but that doesn't mean he is a solid one that is capable of playing at a high level during certain points in the season. He gets a lot of pressure placed in his direction, and the loss of Crawford definitely won't help him. I like prospect Desmond Jennings, and I expect him to replace Johnny Damon. Damon has no arm strength, no power, and his speed is going away. He's just an older player with a name.

Ben Zobrist is a star, and his importance to the team just increased by some really big number that is tough to express. Zobrist is a do-everything player. Manny Ramirez is a poor player. He can't hit for contact anymore, and he is going to line up as the DH. I don't have high hopes for him at all, but he will make some home runs from time to time. He could get to 20 dingers, but that will be meaningless when you look at some of the other things he will do.

I love Joe Maddon, but there's really nothing he can do to avoid a bad season in Tampa. At best he can slot them in at third, but this team is in shambles and extremely weak in the pen. I think they slip no further than fourth in this division, but they won't be too far off from third.
I'd Much Rather Have Brad Hawpe

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1 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by nbageek

February 18th 2011 00:44
Was surprised with them signing Manny and Damon. I like their pitchers though also. Everything else doesn't sound good.

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