2012 AL East Q+A – Tampa Bay Rays
By Ricky Keeler
With the season now less than two weeks away, we take this chance to feature the last American League East Offseason Q+A session with the members of the AL East Fansided team. Today, we put the attention on the Tampa Bay Rays and Devon Rogers from Rayscoloredglasses.com. Last year, the Rays, under American League manager of the year Joe Maddon, came from nine games back in the Wild Card in early September to capturing the Wild Card spot on the final day of the season. Now, the Rays boast a pitching staff that is one of the best in the American League. The offense has some pieces, but as always, the question is whether or not Tampa will have enough offense for a 162 game season. With the second Wild Card spot now in place for 2012, it makes it even more important for the Yankees to beat their divisional competition, particularly the one that plays in the city where the Bombers have Spring Training.
Here were my questions and Devon’s Answers:
1. How would you grade the Rays’ offseason? Is there a move you wanted them to make that they didn’t make?
Devon: I would give the Rays offseason an A. They filled all of the big major holes in the team and were able to retain their rotation depth. They got Carlos Pena to fill the first base void, Jose Molina to fill the catching void, Luke Scott to add some power, and got a couple guys to fill the bullpen. I would have liked them to add another catcher to go with Molina, but there is still a chance they can add somebody like Ivan Rodriguez.
2. The storyline for Tampa Bay has to be their abundant amount of starting pitching. In July, do you expect Tampa to trade Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis to be dealt for offense?
D:I would expect Davis to be dealt since he is cheaper and under team control for more years. Both will get interest and there is a chance both could be dealt and Alex Cobb could step into the rotation, but if they only trade one Davis would get the bigger return.
3. What is the one concern Tampa faces as they head into the start of the season?
D:The one concern will be with the shortstop spot. Both Sean Rodriguez and Reid Brignac struggled last year, and if they don’t turn it around the Rays could be in for a long season at that spot. The Rays did add Jeff Keppinger for some depth there, but short stop has the biggest question mark.
4. How many starts do we expect Matt Moore to make this season in his rookie year?
D: Barring injury I would expect him to get 25 or 30 starts. I don’t think there will be any limit to him since they have progressed his innings nicely through the minors. You may see the Rays skip him once or twice throughout the season to get him extra rest, but he will probably be on a similar schedule as Jeremy Hellickson was last year.
5. Joe Maddon got a contract extension from the Rays earlier this month. In your estimation, is he the best manager in the game of baseball or at least the American League?
D:He is certainly up there. He may not be the best, just because he can make some questionable game management decisions near the end of games, but he really knows how to control his players and get the most out of them.
6. I know we are a couple weeks away from the start of the season, but do you think the Rays are the best team in the American League East? Why or Why not?
D: It is very close. I would say they are the best just because their rotation is far and away better than any other team in the AL East. Their offense may be a little lacking versus the Yankees and Red Sox, but they are not that far behind. Their rotation will be what sets the Rays apart from other teams in the American League.