Sports

2013 MLB Season Preview: Tampa Bay Rays

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The Tampa Bay Rays continue to be the perfect model of how an organization should be run. Not just in baseball, but in all of sports. The Rays won 90 games yet again last year and boast a young rotation with a very high upside. Is it enough to get them back to the playoffs? Here is a look at the 2013 Tampa Bay Rays:

Additions: SS Yunel Escobar, RP Roberto Hernandez, 2B Kelly Johnson, 1B James Loney, and OF Wil Myers

Departures: SP Wade Davis, RP J.P. Howell, 3B Jeff Keppinger, 1B Carlos Pena, SP James Shields, and OF B.J. Upton. 

Strengths:

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            Rotation. Rotation. Rotation. The 2013 Rays success/failure is going to rest on the young and talented arms of the starting rotation. 1-5 this is one of my favorite rotations in baseball. I love the upside potential of Moore/Hellickson and we all know what Price is capable of. USA Today, in their special fantasy baseball edition has all 5 of the Rays starters in the top 81 (out of 150). If this staff can stay healthy and live up to expectations, they could singlehandedly keep the Rays in the playoff race.

Oh, and lets not forget that this is the same organization that somehow competes year in and year out with underrated/undermanned rosters.

Weaknesses:

            Lineup. While Longoria and Zobrist are both solid in the middle of the order, the rest of the lineup is full of questions marks. I just don’t see anyone who is capable of carrying the offense should Longo or Zobrist struggle or get hurt at any point. Loney, Molina, and Escobar are below average at their position when it cones to production, while Joyce and Johnson have some pop, but lack average. If this team is still in contention at the trade deadline, I would expect them to try and find some offense.

Also, real quick, I know Fernando Rodney was out of his mind disgusting last year (0.60 ERA and 0.78 WHIP), but he is just 1 year removed from back-to-back 4+ ERA and 1.5+ WHIP seasons. Not sure which closer the Rays will be getting.

Prediction:

            My love for the rotation is canceled out by my distain for their offense. I don’t expect the Rays to get a playoff spot, but could see them in the hunt for a while with their pitching staff. However, IF they can stay in it, and add a bat, my mind could be swayed.

Follow Cole Stevenson on twitter: @Cole_Stevenson