Re: Tampa Bay Rays Will Not Go Away: Part III
posted at 2/10/2012 12:40 PM EST
I believe Tampa will be in the mix all year, but I do see some hope that they will win fewer than 90 games. First, Pena. He is their big power addition, but he can be pitched to.
I'd call it close to a wash with the loss of Kotchman.
Second, the bullpen. Maybe Farnsworth has figured something out, or maybe he just pitched well away from the ALE and the spotlight, we'll see. Beyond that, at some point in time their patchwork method of filling a bullpen will not be as successful as it has been (That is my story and I am sticking to it; but then, I have predicted that someday Mo Rivera will get old and lose his Mojo and that ain't happened yet).
The Rays have poerfected the art of patchwork pens over-achieving. Maybe it's all been luck and it will catch up to them someday, but they have made a good run at selecting pitchers that do well with them and only them.
Third, catching. They could really use an upgrade there. None of their backstops are WS caliber, IMO, and it is an important position, especially with such young pitching. With that in mind, they'd be better off with Varitek than Molina, IMO.
They didn't really have a great core of catchers last year as well, but I do see this as a weakness. Chirinois could surprise.
Fourth, SS. Not that it is any worse than the Sox current situation, but no all-stars there.
Sean Rodriguez will hit 100-150 points higher than Brignac. They also have 2 of the nation's best SS prospects not far away.
And Fifth, Offense. They just don't have what Boston and New York have. If the bullpen doesn't hold up and the young starters are inconsistent, the Rays are far more vulnerable than either the Sox or Yanks.
Actually, having great pitching, particularly starting pitchers that can go deep, allows teams to stay in more games than great offensive teams.
Geez, I hope I am right!
All that said, the Rays have the look and feel of the O's back in the Palmer, Cuellar, McNally, Dobson days. Great starters, good bullpen, and great defense. Not that any team will have four 20 game winners ever again, but if 16 wins is the new 20, I could see the Rays having four 16+ game winners.
I could see Shields, price, hellickson, and Moore winning 17+ and leading their team to 20+ wins out of 32 starts.