Welcome back Rays!
It was a LONG offseason! I’m ready for a new start and ready for the 2012 Baseball season. I’ll admit, it was hard leaving 2011 the way we did, the Rays Way! But to say the least, the start of this year has made me think long and hard about how we should approach this year. There were a lot of changes made within each team in the league. As much as I wish I could say that I don’t care about them, I really do. Because what they add to their team will affect us just as much as what we don’t add to our team.
I started this year with my fantasy lineup. In years past, I have picked my own teams. This year, I let the computer do the thinking for me. I would have to say that it wasn’t too bad. I did miss out on key transactions but my team is workable. I just have to think of strategic ways to win, but how do I do that if I can’t control the players on my team? Well, I study the players on the other teams. Which players do I have that can “out play” the players on the other team? Strategy, maybe? I good defense can sometimes be better than a fantastic offense? Seems twisted, but is this how Maddon thinks when he puts his players on the daily roster? Lots of silly questions, but I think it’s time to give it a try.
The Rays have six starters. James Shields is the good ole’ Veteran of the team. If he is having a bad day, it’s never good for the team. David Price, ah yes, the jokester of the group. If he plays as well as he tweets, we would be good as golden! Jeremy Hellickson, Mr. Rookie of the Year, he’s stellar! I wish I could have drafted him on my fantasy team. He just needs to stay healthy and strong. And, he needs to stay away from bullpen’s and homerun balls before games Jeff Neimann, the tall tower of the bunch. He has been hit or miss early on, but once he gets started, he is dynamic! After all, he needs to keep his spot in the rotation. Matt Moore, the true rookie of the team. He is very young, but don’t let it fool you. If he gets on a roll early, you may never score on this kid. I predict a very good year from him. You can’t forget Wade Davis. He may be in the bullpen as a long reliever, but never count him out as a starter.
Carlos Pena rejoins the squad from an average season with the Cubs. In my opinion, he should have never left. He has been solid for us and a natural leader. Luke Scott joins the team after having a rough year. Both are very good additions to the offensive lineup and not to mention making their presence very clear with Grand Slams for each! Jeff Keppinger joins the group. I’ve got high hopes for him, too. I’m excited to see what these three can do for the team.
Naturally, the regulars return with a goal of making it to the World Series. I wonder what Joe Maddon has up his sleeve this year. It’s always fun to watch him play with the lineup. Evan Longoria officially announces that he is in a relationship. How will that work out for him? Who knows, but I do know that what happens off the field, stays off the field. He appears very poised and confident. This should be an interesting year for him. Desmond Jennings makes his sophomore year appearance. He looks very good, but I think he still has a lot to learn. He has so much potential. If we could get B.J. Upton to come back healthy, we could have double trouble with stealing bases. Let’s face it, we really need it. Since Carl Crawford left for Boston, we don’t have the back to back stealing power that we did when he and Upton were together. Matt Joyce has matured tremendously on the field and is growing into his role perfectly. I can’t complain too much about the home grown player. Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac, and Ben Zobrist come back strong! Super Sam starts the season off with surgery. I’m going to miss his crazy on field catches. Get well soon! We officially have one of the Molina brothers on the team now! It’s very exciting to have such a diverse team. I’m feeling very good vibes for 2012.
There was a lot of hype regarding the Rays having the best pitching staff in the league. My fear is that the Rays are mentally so good that they can’t project it onto the field. I don’t argue that fact one bit, but I worry that the hype might have some type of mental affects on the players. Call it a mental block if you will. If we can defensively destroy the other teams, I think we can make it to the end. If I could take one thing away from 2011, it will be that the Rays make it to the Playoff’s in 2012. And, if we stay healthy, steady, and strong we will be just fine. Please no more game 162’s. Let’s just get out ahead and stay ahead. Go Rays!