Previewing the 2012 Rays | Interview Series
Over the course of the next month or two, we will be previewing the Yankees’ competition in the American League. To do this, I will interview one blog for each team in the league.
We now move all the way down the East Coast to the Tampa Bay Rays. I had the pleasure of interviewing Devon Rogers of Rays Colored Glasses.
Let’s get started…
1. The Rays had an excellent 2011 season, including a 91-71 record, and making the playoffs. What do you think was their greatest asset that helped them achieve success? Conversely, what do you think the Rays could have done a better job at, in order to go farther into the playoffs?
Their greatest asset was by far the starting rotation. The Rays had five, and sometimes six, starters capable of going deep into games last season. The starters kept the Rays in many games the Rays had no business winning. The Rays could’ve done a better job with timely hitting. The offense as a whole struggled last season, but they did have their good games. The problem was getting hits with runners in scoring position in close games. Had the Rays got timely hits, they could have won a few more games and most likely would’ve made it deep into the playoffs.
2. The highlight of the Rays’ offseason, at least to this point, has been the extension of lefty-starter Matt Moore, who we saw pitch Game 1 of the ALDS. The Rays now have one of the best rotations in baseball, with Shields, Price, Hellickson, Moore, and Niemann/Davis. Do you think it is a better idea to leave the rotation be – or, do you think the Rays should trade one of them for some offense?
I would like to see the Rays trade either Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis, or both. I think Alex Cobb is a better option at the fifth spot than either of those two, so I think the Rays should try to find a way to get rid of them. They need help at first and they could use one of the two as a cornerstone piece in a trade for a good first baseman. If they don’t trade one or both, the Rays will find themselves in the situation of having three good starters for one spot while still having holes in the offense.
3. What is the general confidence level in the Rays going into the 2012 season? Do you think the strong pitching staff is enough to balance out the lesser offense?
The general confidence level is very high. Many feel this could be the year the Rays make a strong push for the World Series. Buster Olney recently ranked the Rays as the best team in his New Year’s power rankings, saying that their rotation is good enough to carry the team if the offense stays the way it is now. I tend to agree with him since the Rays have the rotation to go deep into most games and have a good back end of the bullpen to shut down close games. If the offense can score a couple runs, that should be enough in most games for the pitching staff. If the Rays do get one or two more power bats the Rays have a very good chance of winning the World Series with their rotation.
The current state of the Rays farm system is pretty good, as it always is. The biggest prospects are Single-A and Double-A players, like Hak-Ju Lee and Chris Archer, so not much in the way of impact in 2012. Matt Moore and Desmond Jennings should have huge impacts on the team as recently called-up prospects, but beyond them I don’t see much of an impact from the minor league system. You may see guys like Brandon Guyer or Alex Torres as fill-ins in case of injury, but that is about it.
5. Lastly, how do you project the team will do in 2012?
I project the team as a 95-100 win team in 2012 with a deep run into the post season. I could easily see them winning the division, but it is hard to predict how the AL East will play out since there are four teams that have a chance to win. If the Rays add another bat or two, which I am guessing they will, the Rays will be a very good team in 2012 and will contend for a championship.