I Am Not Buying Into The Tampa Bay Rays This Year

This squad also doesn't have any ALL - Star caliber position players, and will have a tough time keeping up with the offenses of the Jays, Orioles, Red Sox and even the Yankees. I would gladly take all other 4 teams shut down late inning relief over Tampa Bay's as well.

This squad also doesn’t have any ALL – Star caliber position players, and will have a tough time keeping up with the offenses of the Jays, Orioles, Red Sox and even the Yankees. I would gladly take all other 4 teams shut down late inning relief over Tampa Bay’s as well.  Last season the club took advantage of a strong Bullpen that led the AL in Saves with 60, and have since traded stalwart Jake McGee, and have lost Brad Boxberger to start they year for 2 months.  Some of the departed veterans were also not adequately replaced.  All of the four other club all improved or maintained, whereas Tampa will need some luck to just maintain.

Hunter Stokes (BBBA Featured Writer) 

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Forgive me if I don’t follow a lot of other people’s opinion on the Tampa Bay Rays. I outlined in a recent article on over/under win totals for the year that the Rays are 1 of 2 best bets to be under their 82.5 wins for the year.

Okay so last year I did also call for their demise – and they rallied late in the year for a 80 – 82 record, however I don’t even think this club is as good as the roster that competed the 2015 season – meanwhile all the other clubs have maintained or added good players to their depth charts.

Out for the Rays are Jake McGee, John Jaso, Nate Karns, Asdrubal Cabrera, Grady Sizemore, J.P. Arencibia and Brad Boxberger is out 8 weeks after core muscle surgery.

In are: Corey Dickerson Logan Morrison, Brad Miller, Steve Pearce, Danny Farquhar, Ryan Webb and Hank Conger.

Not exactly loading the fanbase with can’t miss talent the Rays are significantly weaker in 2016 than 2015 in my view.

Their Bullpen is worse…The loss off Starter Karns may actually hurt the club.

Logan Forsythe was the best overall hitter for Tampa last last year - cracking out 52 Extra Base Hits and holding own an .804 OPS. These are numbers that far exceeded his career marks. He will need to duplicate his production in 2016 if the Rays want to contend. He, Longoria and Corey Dickerson are the biggest keys to the Rays winning.

Logan Forsythe was the best overall hitter for Tampa last year – cracking out 52 Extra Base Hits and holding own an .804 OPS. These are numbers that far exceeded his career marks. He will need to duplicate his production in 2016 if the Rays want to contend. He, Longoria and Corey Dickerson are the biggest keys to the Rays winning.

A lot of folks are claiming that the Rays have outstanding pitching.  I temper those statements by pointing out massive health concerns.

1st off, Alex Cobb is out with Tommy John surgery recovery, and may not be effective at any point in 2016.

Matt Moore is recovering from TJ himself – and has not had much success since his nice rookie season.

Drew Smyly has put up a stellar ERA for the club in 19 Game Starts at 2.54 – with a 0.997 WHIP – however he only logged 66.2 Innings Pitched over 12 Game Starts last season.

Smyly is a decent chucker for sure – but lets not give him a great classification here.

Jake Odorizzi is a nice young thrower as well.  He does project to a #2 or #3 based on his efforts in his time with Tampa.

I am also not debating that Chris Archer is not a great talent, he is.  The guy should contend for an AL Cy Young every year now.

The loss of Jake McGee, added with the injury to Brad Boxberger absolutely crippled the Rays Relief Core, which should be doling out major innings with the Starters like Moore and Smyly already in the rotation.

Then there is the offense.   It is easily the worst lineup in the AL East – and is going to challenge for worst in the league.  Last year the club actually fared decently in registering the 7th best average (.252) in the AL, but were 9th in OBP (.315) and 10 in SLG (.406).  They also were in the bottom 3rd for Strikeouts and Walks.

The most troubling aspect was the club ranked 14th in total runs scored.

Granted the pitching picked up a lot of the slack being 4th in team ERA and Strikeouts.  Yet this is where I can forecast trouble.  Jake McGee, Nate Karns and Brad Boxberger (who will be out until mid May) are missing from last year’s opening day roster.  Boxberger helped lead the Relief Core to an AL leading 61 Saves last season.

Karns will also be missed, where he put up a respectable 3.67 ERA and WHIP of 1..279 in his 147 Frames last campaign – spanning 26 Game Starts.

The club is not expected to break Spring Training with phennom Blake Snell either.  They will keep him down until Mid-June to bypass the “super 2” status this season.  If there is any year the club should have one of their young superstars up to start the season it is now.  But they won’t do it.

The Rays lineup doesn’t scare anyone.  Evan Longoria is just above average for his position.  Corey Dickerson may be the key to the club scoring early, yet I believe he will struggle adapting to a new league – and also breaking the Coors Field jinx that seems to plague so many ex-Rockies before him.

Kevin Keirmaier may be a Gold Glover in CF but that doesn’t translate into offensive production.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for Steven Souza JR.emerging as a great player either.

Steve Pearce was a decent pickup for a Utility guy – but he will not light the league on fire.

At 1B there is perennial underachiever Logan Morrison and light hitting James Loney manning the post there.

Shortstop includes the likes of Tm Beckham and Brad Miller.  Would you believe the Rays employ 3 former Mariners that couldn’t cut the mustard in Morrison, Miller and Nick Franklin.

The Catching production is a joke, although maybe Hank Conger can at least be adequate.

The biggest thing to hold your hat on is the unproven young backups seem to have power.  OF Mikie Mahtook (9 HRs and 19 RBI in 105 AB), Curt Casali (10 HRs and 18 RBI in 101 AB) and Brandon Guyer (31 Extra Base Hits in 332 AB), but they are not even starting at least to begin the year.

Losing the steady bats of Jaso and Cabrera may also sting a little bit as both carried OPS’s of .839 and .744 respectively.  Cabrera also featured a nice .916 OPS in the second half of the year after a slow start.

Even a guy like J.P. Arencibia cracked 7 HRs and added 17 RBI in just 71 AB for the Rays last year.

You have to like the way the Rays bench picked up the starters on offense.  That kind of result is hard to duplicate the next year – espeially with 2nd year players facing sophomore campaigns.

Tampa’s pitching were also 11th in total Homers yielded as a pitching staff last season.  This doesn’t bode well against the Jays, O’s, Yankees and Red Sox who can all hurt you with the longball. 

Again, losing 3 quality arms from that vantage point to start the year will add to the club’s misery

After pointing all of this out, a lot of how I am pegging the Rays for 74 – 76 wins rests largely on the Division they play in.

Boston, Toronto, New York and Baltimore all have better offenses and Bullpens than the Rays.  Other than the Orioles, the Jays, Red Sox and Yankees also have decent Starting Pitching to add to the fold.

Tampa’s real advantage of Starting Pitching and the Relief Core nailing down victories is not as strong as they were in 2015 – and that will be the teams undoing

I predict that the Rays will not reach the 80 win barrier for the 1st time since 2007.  Does this mean the future is not bright for this club…Actually no..

This team looks decent in years to come.  Blake Snell will arrive, some of the young players should get better and players like Loney, Pearce and Morrison all come of the payroll to create $20 MIL in the budget for next year.

There is 0nly $27 MIL on the clubs cash for contracts thus far in 2017.  If Cobb has a successful return to the rotation, and Smyly/Moore prove healthy – you should have a nice trade chip with a Odorizzi to help address your long term offensive needs.

The Rays finished dead last in the Majors for attendance despite putting forth their 8th straight campaign of 80 wins or more. This may be the year they can't reach that plateau. I cite a weaker bullpen and inferior offense to all 4 other clubs in the AL East (playing them for 76 games) as the deciding factor for a last place finish in the AL East - and far behind the overall playoff bar.

The Rays finished dead last in the Majors for attendance despite putting forth their 8th straight campaign of 80 wins or more. This may be the year they can’t reach that plateau. I cite a weaker bullpen and inferior offense to all 4 other clubs in the AL East (playing them for 76 games) as the deciding factor for a last place finish in the AL East – and far behind the overall playoff bar.  How bad will the crowds get at Tropicana Field if they are not in contention?  They may draw less than a Million.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of bbba.work and their other members***

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A big thanks goes out to our featured writer Hunter Stokes for preparing today’s post.

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About hunterstokes21

I Played NCAA Baseball at Liberty University in the 90's with Sid Bream's kid Sheldon. Once Hit a Home Run by hitting a hot air balloon that was coming over 2nd base (It was agreed that if a balloon was hit before game by the umpires and coaches - even though they were setting up in LF/CF Bleachers). I believe in the "Church Of Baseball". Come in for worship anytime.

Posted on March 19, 2016, in MLB Reports and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. This is an excellent glass-half-empty assessment. You are entirely correct in that if everything goes wrong, the Rays will struggle. The problem is that the same can be said of every other team in baseball.

    The Rays have an outstanding pitching staff. Archer is a true ace and Odorizzi is a solid arm as well. Smyly has been very effective when he has been healthy and he is starting the season healthy. Your point about Snell is what makes Smyly’s health not as great a concern. If he does get hurt, there is Snell to step in. You failed to mention Erasmo Ramirez, who is also a very useful rotation arm. Then there is Moore. Yes, he is coming off surgery, but he pitched very well both at the end of 2015 and thus far in the spring. Archer, Moore, Odorizzi and Smyly/Snell are as good a one through four as there is anywhere.

    Offensively, you also failed to mention Desmond Jennings, who seems healthy now for the first time in awhile. They have several guys who could struggle, but they built depth in the areas where this was most likely so they also have the chance to overcome those struggles, should they appear.

    This is a team that should pitch, play defense and put the ball in play on offense. Remind you of anyone? Like maybe last year’s world champs? Yes, their bullpen is not nearly as good as KCs, but their rotation is better. I’m not saying they will win the World Series, but they have what they need to compete in the AL East.

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    • They are still pegged by Vegas oddsmakers as 82.5 wins over and under – and that will not have them make the postseason
      Desmond Jennings has failed to produce for the last few years.
      Erasmo Ramirez is a decent pitcher for a #4 or #5 you are right.
      There is no way the Rays start the clock on Snell until at least mid June – regardless of where the team is at in the standings. Remember Wil Myers in 2013? They waited until mid June when they could have brought him into the fold in April. Probably cost them the Division – instead of having to backdoor in with the playoff game and then the Wild Card Game.
      Moore was pretty bad last year, and as we have seen with Tommy John Surgery, nothing is guaranteed once you have the procedure.
      Hunter did state in the piece that Archer is a bonafide ace.
      Our point is that the Rays pitching is not significantly better than most of the clubs like it seems to be ( in the AL alone, I would take Detroit’s, Houston’s and Seattle’s SP over them) put in a general consensus. Granted they still have the better rotation guys in the division
      Trading away McGee will hurt big time, and especially with the injury to Boxberger.
      The AL East has many awesome offenses who can hit the longball, and no matter how good Tampa’s pitching is, they still served up a pile of these last year already – and this will also not bode well against the Jays and O’s – who may hit 250- HRs each as a club. They have the worst Bullpen in the Division and the worst offense. While the starters are probably the best, as far as overall staffs go, in the AL East I would place them 4th (maybe last) behind the Yankees, Red Sox and Jays based on those clubs Relief Core Depth, and all have enough Starting Pitching that is more comparable then the Rays have in their late innings guys – opposed to the Yanks, Red Sox, Jays and even the O’s.

      The offensive production is the main reason why the won’t win, but the Bullpen also has to be a concern as well. Boston and New York have the financial resources to take on salary, and also have some depth on the farm, and the Jays have enough pieces to orchestrate a mdseason deal.

      Tampa has a better chance to win in 2017 – with Cobb possibly coming back, a full year of Sell – and one of Smyly or Odorizzi could be traded for a better offensive upgrade. We also like the fact they have $20 MIL coming off of the books. This club can finally get that 1B bat they need to compete via Free Agency that will give them a shot of power (like Carlos Pena did in the teams best seasons.). LOMO and Loney pull in around $14 MIL – and will not give them bang for their buck this year.

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