Chuck Booth (Owner/Lead Analyst) Follow @chuckbooth3024
Follow The MLB Reports On Twitter Follow @mlbreports
The Tampa Bay Rays failed to make it to .500 or better for the 1st time since 2008 in 2015, however with a 5 game winning streak at the end of the campaign, they made it to 80 wins or better for an 8th year in a row. I highly suspect this year that may come crashing down.
Toronto made its moves for the better in late July, and should be a team to be reckoned with again in 2016.
Only the Orioles don’t look to compete in the AL East during the 2016 campaign with the Rays thus far, and they still may be tough to play 19 times a year if they are to re-sign Chris Davis.
Tampa Bay still clearly has the best Pitching Rotation in the Division with Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, Matt Moore and Jake Odorizzi filtering in spots 1 – 5. But will it be enough to help a fledgling offensive in 2016?
Evan Longoria is the elder statesmen of the club, and he has started to tail off from his prime years already. He is still above league average for Third Baseman, but one wonders if the Rays can start paying him $15 MIL per years.
Yes the team has a bunch of decent guys this roster around with Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr., but we are talking about just 27 HRS and 87 RBI in 1069 Plate Appearances in the previous campaign listed as your #1’s on each Outfield position.
The team is not much better on the Infield for numbers, although super Utility guy Logan Forsythe was the best overall force on offense with a 3 Slash of .281/.359./.444.
Tampa is also going to pay about 20% of its payroll for James Loney and Logan Morrison to patrol First Base for their club. Loney is a decent Batting Average guy, while Morrison has some pop. I am thinking the club might trade Loney if possible, He does make $9.7 MIL – and there is a market for his services out there.
Morrison isn’t the only former Mariner to make up the Infield Depth Chart. Brad Miller is listed as the clubs #1 shortstop.
I have seen the guy play a couple of years in Seattle. He has some pop for the position, with 91 Extra Base Hits for his career in 1111 AB. This would equal about 45 – 50 XBH per season.
That is what the club lost when Asdrubal Cabrera left after his one year in the BAY (15 HRs, 5 – 3B and 28 – 2B).
Another casualty of the roster in year to year is John Jaso. If this guy was only requesting $4 MIL per season for the next 2 years how come the Rays were not in his services?
Jaso is a career .263/.361/.406 hitter with an OPS of close to .800 since the Rays let him go the 1st time.
They wouldn’t have had to trade for Morrison, and pay him a similar deal to hit .220, be injured, and maybe run into 15 – 20 HRs. LoMo has just a .706 OPS since entering the American League.
Conger cracked 11 HRs and added 33 RBI in just 200 AB, while Casali clubbed 10 jacks and added 18 RBI in 101 AB. I would think that one of these guys (and either Loney or Morrison) would work out for some Plate Appearances as the Designated Hitter in 2016 as well.
Mahtook may have the line as a guy to watch in 2016, after he smacked 9 HRs and 19 RBI in just 105 AB last year. Despite his nice .619 Slugging on that, he fanned 31 times in those AB.
I say give this guy and Casali a chance. If these guys can power up a slagging team for that department, the Rays may just surprise us again.
Guyer, who led the American League in Hit By Pitches in 2015 with 24 (in 385 AB) should also get a second look after posting a decent .771 OPS last year.
Considering Jennings has been battling injuries, Souza is still relatively unproven, and Morrison spends a lot of time on the DL, Guyer may get a chance to shine on the club again in 2016 too.
This club will only go as far as the young guys take them. I believe the veterans have maxed out – or are in decline.
Cobb and Archer have both pitched like #1 starters at times in the last few years.
Odorizzi, Smyly and Moore all have stuff that is capable of translating into #2 or #3 pitchers.
Erasmo Ramirez rounds out the rotation. This team will not have their first non – 80 win season in 8 years because of the Pitching Staff.
Tampa Bay also has to look at McGee, who is only under Team Control for 2 more years before he hits Free Agency. The calling card for the organization is to dive in the bargain basement bin to pull out a Relief Core every season.
Danny Farquhar (also brought over the Seattle and Tampa Bay trade), Xavier Cedeno (purchased from the Dodgers), Matt Andriese (came over with Boxberger and Forsythe in the Alex Torres and Jesse Hahn deal in Jan of 2014,) are the top listed chuckers in the Bullpen,
I fully believe that McGee will be dealt too. The Rays don’t like paying any pitchers in the Bullpen at all. They would have all pitches on entry-level contracts once that happened.
The payroll is going to challenge the Marlins and A’s for worst in the Majors before year’s end. Tampa must not lose sight of where they are.
At drawing just 1.28 Million Fans into Tropicana Field last year, it might make sense for them to scale back on the veterans, and build through the Draft again.
At least they have Archer to build around. Perhaps they can use Cobb or Odorizzi to help stock the young offensive talent on the club.
I have them pegged as a 75 win team right now.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***
I am happy to be back at the helm of the MLB Reports, after completing my record 224 Games in the MLB Trip in 2015. It was the 4th time I have seen all 30 MLB Parks since 2008.
During that time away I was fortunate to do 100 Media Interviews and be named the Baseball Blogger Alliance President.
To Subscribe and listen daily to ‘Our Lead Personality’ Sully’s 20 Minutes Daily (every day since Oct.24, 2012) Podcast click here. Guaranteed listening to the Sully Baseball Daily Podcast will be the best time you invest in online!
2016 MLB Previews: Team Salaries + SOTUs (MLB Teams State Of The Unions) Links Page here.