2012 Tampa Bay Rays Season Preview
The Rays snuck into the playoffs last year on the back of a five-game winning streak, a historic collapse in Boston and an amazing comeback victory from down 7-0 in the eighth inning on the last day of the season. Games like that is why Tampa has arrived into the baseball scene over the last few seasons, winning the division and AL pennant for the first time in 2008. They look to make the playoffs for the third consecutive season in 2012, this time without the Texas Rangers ending their season in the first round again. Luke Scott has been brought in to hit in the designated hitter spot, hopefully regaining his form of 2010 when he hit .284 with 27 HRs. Carlos Pena has also been brought back into Tampa, taking over his old spot at first base that was occupied by Cleveland-bound Casey Kotchman. Pena has a .239 career average, but he’s a patient hitter that will take walks and give you around 30 HRs a season. The Tampa rotation, once again filled with young talent, will try to replicate the success from the mound in 2011. The Rays gave up the least amount of runs in the American League last season, and with a full season under Jeremy Hellickson’s belt expect nothing but improvement. David Price and James Shields both ranked in the top 5 of the AL in strikeouts, helping to pick up the slack left over when Matt Garza was traded to the Cubs. Evan Longoria will continue to be one of the most feared hitters in the game this season, hitting for 31 HRs and 99 RBI after coming back from injury that kept him sidelined for a month in 2011. Tampa fans will expect another MVP-type season from the five-tool player in 2012.
2011 Tampa Bay Rays Season Preview
In 2010, the Tampa Bay Rays did something conventional wisdom nowadays says couldn’t be done–beat the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox for the American League East crown. But it was a tumultuous offseason for the Rays, as a huge part of their offense–Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena–and most of their relief corps left via free agency. So this year it’s up to manager Joe Maddon and team anchor Evan Longoria to make the team compete in a division where every win will be hard fought. The team’s first order of business was to get some veteran leadership on board, and they did so with the pick-up of a pair of former teammates, Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. With the youth movement seemingly afoot in Tampa Bay, the team needs to reign in its younger players whose plate discipline has been severely lacking. Cases in point are BJ Upton and Ben Zobrist, who both struggled last year after having sensational years before. The team has also brought up much-hyped shortstop Reid Brignac, who will need the type of mentoring World Series champions can provide. On the pitching front, David Price will continue to be the staff ace, as his 2.72 ERA last season proves. It’s the rest of the staff that makes the rotation a dicey proposition. While James Shields was a solid number two in the rotation as recently as 2009, the team hopes last year’s abysmal numbers don’t show themselves again. Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann and rookie Jeremy Helickson round out the rotation, one that the Rays hope can take them back to the Promised Land once again in 2011.
2010 Tampa Bay Rays Season Preview
The Tampa Bay Rays are just one season removed from a trip to the World Series and are itching to return to the fall classic in the 2010 season. It took about 10 years for everything to fall in place for the American League East contenders, but once the team had its stars aligned, they were sure to let the rest of the league know it. Tampa Bay Rays ticketholders have come to expect the best from their veteran staples - speedster Carl Crawford, slugger Carlos Pena and five-tool threat B.J. Upton and budding superstar Evan Longoria - but the real focus this season will be on the Rays' up-and-coming talents. Not one of the five mainstays of the club's starting pitching staff has yet to turn 29-years-old, yet the rotation has already been dazzling opposing hitters with their craft. While James Shields and Matt Garza have become dependable options on the mound, Rays fans are eager to see what they can expect from pitchers Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann and David Price in the 2010 season. The AL East may be the most competitive division in baseball, giving fans a good reason to turn out to Tropicana Field all summer long.
2009 Tampa Bay Rays Season Preview
Tampa Bay Rays fans are probably still pinching themselves as they head into the 2009 Major League Baseball season. Sure the Rays lost a heartbreaking World Series in 2008 to the Philadelphia Phillies, but that was the only blemish on an otherwise magnificent season. Tampa Bay shocked most of the sports world in 2008 with their amazing regular season and fantastic run through the MLB playoffs.Now the Rays return with most of their lineup intact to take another shot at bringing home the Commissioners Trophy. The leaders on the field for Tampa Bay in 2009 will once again be Carl Crawford, BJ Upton and Evan Longoria. Throw in talented Rays pitchers like David Price, Scott Kazmir and Troy Percival, and things are really starting to cook in Tampa. If Manager Joe Maddon can press the right buttons again, then expect Tampa Bay to go deep in the playoffs and possibly even get a World Series Championship.
2008 Tampa Bay Rays Season Preview
The Tampa Bay Rays are one of the youngest teams in baseball and perhaps the team with the best prospects for improvement this season. With new uniforms, young talent, a name change (dropping the "Devil" in "Devil Rays", and going with just the Rays), new uniforms, and a new stadium in the works, the Rays have a big hill to climb but look like they have what it takes to start improving and look for a Wild Card berth in this year's playoffs. Tampa Bay fans will fill Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida this year to watch young players like pitcher David Price and centerfielder Rocco Baldelli.