Won/Loss (place in division) & Playoffs: 98-64 (1st), lost in Round 2 to Yankees
Offense: 825 runs (2nd)
Pitching: 3.92 (5th)
FA Departures: RP Juan Ayala, C Aurelio Hernandez
FA Signees: SP Ozzie Culver, C Donne Mercedes
Rule V: C/DH Alex Reyes (#29)
Season 21 OutlookThe Rays had the best record in the AL last year. They were a bit under-the-radar then, an they're under the microscope now.
Tampa Bay is the complete package on offense. They hit for power (218 HR's, 3B Roosevelt Tollberg tops with 36), they get on base (.332 team, 1B Bill Crawford tops with .364), and they run (164 SB's, 2B/CF Pedro Mercado tops with 39).
Tollberg was the key FA signing last year. Another big move was the trade for 2B Babe Brett - he responded with a huge .276/30/108 season at the plate and played acceptable D at 2B. Another big cog in the offense is SS Russell Robertson. The Rays give up some defense (34) errors to get his bat into the lineup - the move paid off big last year with 30 HR's and 111 RBI.
Last year's 5 starters (who started 159 games) return, although Joseph Won (15-6, 3.63) will miss the first 45 games or so with tendinitis. Grover Austin, Bingo Gibson, Ken Federowicz and Sherman Lidge aren't flashy, but they're effective. Ozzie Culver appears to be the #5 starter in Won's absence.
Haywood Truman struggled (5.03 ERA) as the closer last year, but the job's still his. No reason to expect anything other than his career form - around a 3.75 ERA. Virgil Morales is 36 but still hasn't lost anything - he could be better this year, too. Rico Ferrer and Steven Eaton should be capable short men.
This crew won 98 last year and had very few off-season changes. I expect they'll be around 98 again.
(From GM jthornton75):
"My team outlook should be easy. I returned my entire team intact other
than catchers Aurelio Hernandez and Vernon Thurman being replaced by
Donne Mercedes and Alex Reyes.
'So expectations are for a similar season to last year. A spring
training injury to Joseph Won has weakened the rotation though and Ken
Federowicz will have to step up in his place."