2010 Rewind: 96-66, first place AL East. The Rays looked like they were going to be a mainstay in the highly-competitive AL East. Two of the last three years they won the division, beating out the big payroll Yankees and Red Sox. Could a team with a limited payroll hold up against the big spending rivals? It doesn’t look like it.
The Good: A lot went right for the Rays; great offensive production, good defense, clutch hitting, excellent pitching. Many of those positives are not in south Florida this year. David Price, one of the best left-handed pitchers in all of baseball is still a Ray and his future looks brighter than the Florida sun. Wade Davis, who is the same age as Price, looks to be a solid #3 pitcher in this rotation. Evan Longoria is the best third baseman in baseball and an elite fantasy option.
The Bad: BJ Upton wastes a lot of his talent. He has shown flashes of being a 30/30 guy, but then plays lazy, gets attitude with his coaches and was even allegedly on the trading block last year because of his antics. He’s still young so if he puts it all together, Upton can be a star. For now, the center field job is his, but he holds it tentatively.
Biggest Loss: Where to start? The superstars departed like Florida snowbirds in June. Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Rafael Soriano are all on different teams. If you’re keeping score that’s your all everything outfielder, your 30+HR first baseman, your no-hitting pitcher, your steady eddy shortstop and your closer. How do you replace all of that?
Best Addition: With all that talent gone, the Rays management had to make some moves, so they went out and added veterans on the cheap. Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon are back in the AL East. How much impact can these two waning veterans have in Tampa?
Fantasy Slant: After Longoria and Price (who are both fantasy studs), the rest of the Rays lineup is a bunch of unproven young talent. Without a doubt the safest bet among the young talent is Jeremy Hellickson. This first round draft pick is the reason the Rays let Garza go to the Cubs. Hellickson could be a mid-to-late round bargain for your fantasy squad.
Final Take: With so much talent departing and aging talent coming in, the Rays take a step back. They just lost too much…2011 Record: 86-76, 3rd place, AL East
Fantasy Baseball, MLB