The Rays made a major news splash when they traded James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City for Jake Odorizzi, a righty who had a cup of coffee last season, Wil Myers, who is a highly-regarded prospect, and two other minor leaguers. Everyone expected Shields to be traded sooner or later, but no one saw Davis being part of the deal. As for Myers, he’s projected to be a middle-of-the-lineup hitter. Projections can be tough, but the Royals have a pretty good recent history of drafting and developing young position players. The deal could work out well for both clubs.
Making up for some of the innings Shields took with him could come from within last season’s Tampa Bay rotation. Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson should both be able to take more of the work load as they mature. Jeff Niemann, who was injured much of last season, should be able to help the “innings cause” as well.
Looking forward, it should be interesting to see how long it will take Myers to make his appearance in the bigs. He’s hit for power and average in the minors, and while some people point to the fact that he strikes out fairly often, I don’t see that as an immediate problem. If he can produce runs, and strikeouts are a part of the deal. Last year, the club had strikeouts with production that was below average from several experienced major leaguers. I say, give Myers the benefit of the doubt, and look forward to seeing him display his talents at Tropicana Field. Odorizzi is certainly in the mix of young arms that could find their way to The Trop as well.
- A neighbor was saying this morning that he doesn’t expect David Price to re-sign with Tampa Bay when his current contract expires. Well, he might not. But I’m going to enjoy watching him compete on the mound, and clown around on the bench as long as he’s with the Rays. You can’t worry about what you can’t control, but you can appreciate talent and class when your club has it. And in David Price, the Rays have both.
- My neighbor also mentioned his concern for the Yankees, his favorite club, and the Red Sox. He said that on paper, they should both be at the bottom of the American League East. That may be the wish of Rays fans, but what about Toronto and Baltimore? Where does that put the Rays in the big picture?
Last season, the Orioles were tremendous. Although they only scored seven more runs than they gave up, Buck Showalter pushed the right buttons. Is it possible for them to build off last season, or will they struggle to find the magic again? As for Toronto, they have re-made their roster, and have the pitching to be serious contenders.
What about Tampa Bay? I expect them to get more quality innings out of Moore, Hellickson, and Niemann. Chris Archer was impressive, and seemed to have plenty of backbone. He could be integral in the Rays’ rotation, or at least provide valuable relief. And I haven’t spoken of Alex Cobb, who is gutsy and knows how to pitch. As for offense? Look for the Rays to be better than last season. James Loney should fit nicely into the lineup. Evan Longoria should be healthy and ready to go, and will anchor the middle of the lineup. Desmond Jennings should grow with his experience from last season. And then there’s Wil Myers, waiting in the wings.
I see good things for Tampa Bay. I’m not big on “ifs” and “buts”, but I am big on perspective. And I know the Rays were a few hits, and a couple of bumps and bruises from winning 100+ games last season. So I’m going to stick with the positive. While Baltimore stepped up last season, and the Blue Jays have made some big moves, Tampa Bay is still Tampa Bay. They will compete hard daily, and more than likely find a way to win more games than people think they should.
- Joe Maddon has brought his Thanksmas to the Tampa Bay area, and it continues to serve those in need more each year. What impresses me most is that Joe’s Thanksmas isn’t just some public relations stunt. The beneficiaries aren’t people who are going to be buying season tickets for Tropicana Field. They are people in need. And Maddon and the Rays are simply doing the right thing. They’re putting forth the effort to better their community by helping those in need. Thank you to Joe and the club, not only for reaching out to help others, but for doing it with no ulterior motives. They’re setting a wonderful example while helping their fellow man.