Tampa Bay Rays 2011 Preview

2010 Record: 96-66

2011 Projected Roster

  • Catchers: John Jaso, Kelly Shoppach
  • Infielders: Evan Longoria, Dan Johnson, Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac, Elliot Johnson
  • Outfielders: BJ Upton, Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce, Sam Fuld
  • Starters: David Price, James Shields, Wade Davis, Jeff Neimann, Jeremy Hellickson
  • Bullpen: Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, Jake McGee, Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, Rob Delaney, Andy Sonnastine

Notable Signings

  1. Johnny Damon: 1 year, $5.25MM
  2. Manny Ramirez: 1 year, $2MM
  3. Kyle Farnsworth: 1 year, $3.25MM
  4. Joel Peralta: 1 year, $950K

Notable Losses

  1. Carl Crawford
  2. Matt Garza
  3. Carlos Pena
  4. Rafael Soriano
  5. Dan Wheeler
  6. Grant Balfour

Top Prospects

  1. Jeremy Hellickson: RHP
  2. Matt Moore: LHP
  3. Desmond Jennings: OF
  4. Chris Archer: RHP
  5. Hak-Ju Lee: SS

Key Position Battles

  • First base/Right field: Dan Johnson vs. Matt Joyce – Ben Zobrist will man one of the two position but Johnson and Joyce will battle for a starting job in camp. Johnson is a first baseman(putting Zobrist in right) and Joyce is an outfielder(moving Zobrist to first. Joyce is a better all around player but Dan Johnson bring a power bat to the table that would slot nicely into the Rays lineup. It will likely come down to their performance in camp(which has been pretty even other than Johnson beating Joyce out in homers 4-0.) Losing the power bat of Carlos Pena may open the door for Johnson to be plugged in to fill the gap. First Base Pick: Dan Johnson
  • Closer: Kyle Farnsworth vs. Joel Peralta vs. Jake McGee – This battle appears to be destined to end up as a closer by committee situation but for the purposes of the blog we will have to narrow it down to one as the favorite. Kyle Farnsworth is an unmitigated disaster everywhere he goes and will cause Tampa fans to pull their hair out everytime he comes into games. Peralta is coming off a very good season, 2.02 ERA, in Washington but Jake McGee should be the favorite to snag saves for the Rays. McGee is a powerful lefty arm and could have very similar success to Neftali Feliz as a rookie closer. Closer Pick: Jake McGee

It is very fair to expect the Rays to take a step back this season. They lost their best offensive player and biggest power source in Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, respectively. The offensive replacements Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon are both at the very ends of their careers and simply can not produce the way they once did. They do, however, have one of the best players in all of the game in Evan Longoria. This guy is an absolute stud and led the American League in WAR last season with 7.7 wins above replacement; not to mention that he has the most team-friendly contract for a star of his caliber in the history of the game. Longoria is the one part of this offense that can be relied upon; the rest of these guys can be very hit or miss like Ben Zobrist and BJ Upton. Desmond Jennings may make it up to the big club at some point this season(he is expected to be the next Crawford) but all reports say that he is not ready yet. The rotation can be expected to be stellar in 2011. They may take a stride forward for the stride backwards the lineup took. James Shields should bounce back nicely considering his BAbip in 2010 was well above his career average and David Price proved that he is a bonafide ace. The masses seem to think very highly of Jeremy Hellickson and I am with them. I saw him briefly during his call up last year and the word that comes to mind is electric; he will be very successful. Wade Davis and Jeff “I look like Jeff Daniels” Neimann are very capable at the back end of the rotation. The Rays bullpen looks to be a total mess in 2011. When Kyle Farnsworth is the most recognizable name in your ‘pen you know you are in trouble. Jake McGee has the potential to be a great closer for the Rays but is still only a rookie with all of 5 major league innings under his belt. Joel Peralta had an impressive season with Washington last year but should not be relied upon to be a consistent stopper either. It is tough for a team to lose Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour and Dan Wheeler and expect to do well when their starters come out of the game. The Rays were able to cut a lot of payroll from last season(they were over $70MM in 2010 and expect to be under $50MM and possibly even lower in 2011.) If they find a way to have a some what decent season and even contend while cutting that kind of money this season could be considered a success for them.

WTP Projected 2011 Record: 87-75

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About jacarfagno

Live, Breathe, and Bleed Baseball
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