AL East Featured MLB MLB Team News — 24 March 2010

Tampa Bay Rays

2009 regular season record: 84-78, Third place, AL East

Major Offseason Acquisitions: Rafael Soriano (ATL), Kelly Shoppach (CLE)

Major Offseason Losses: Akinori Iwamura (PIT), Jesse Chavez (ATL), Mitch Talbot (CLE), Gregg Zaun (MIL)

Projected Lineup (2009 stats):

1. SS-Jason Bartlett (.320 BA, .389 OBP, 14 HR, 66 RBI, 30 SB)

2. LF-Carl Crawford (.305 BA, .364 OBP, 15 HR, 68 RBI, 60 SB)

3. 3B-Evan Longoria (.281 BA, .364 OBP, 33 HR, 113 RBI)

4. 1B-Carlos Pena (.227 BA, .356 OBP, 39 HR, 100 RBI)

5. 2B-Ben Zobrist (.297 BA, .405 OBP, 27 HR, 91 RBI)

6. CF-B.J. Upton (.241 BA, .313 OBP, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 42 SB)

7. DH-Pat Burrell (.221 BA, .315 OBP, 14 HR, 64 RBI)

8. RF-Matt Joyce (.188 BA, .270 OBP, 3 HR, 7 RBI)

9. C-Dioner Navarro (.218 BA, .261 OBP, 8 HR, 32 RBI)

Projected Starting Rotation/Closer (2009 stats):

1. RHP James Shields (11-12, 4.14 ERA, 219.2 IP)

2. RHP Matt Garza (8-12, 3.95 ERA, 203 IP)

3. LHP David Price (10-7, 4.42 ERA, 128.1 IP)

4. RHP Jeff Niemann (13-6, 3.94 ERA, 180.2 IP)

5. RHP Wade Davis (2-2, 3.72 ERA, 36.1 IP)

Closer: RHP Rafael Soriano (2.97 ERA, 27 saves)

2010 outlook: The Rays didn’t make many notable moves during the offseason, but they didn’t need to.

With good, young talent up-and-down the lineup, the Rays are a solid mix of speed and power.

Last season, Longoria, Pena, and Zobrist combined to hit 99 home runs while driving in 304 runs.

The two guys at the top of the order, Bartlett and Crawford, combined to steal 90 bases last season, and both boast superb on-base percentages. In other words, they’re ideal table-setters to have at the top of the lineup.

The rotation is also extremely young, led by “elder statesman” James Sheilds, 28.

While Shields posted a respectable 4.14 ERA last season, he’ll be expected to improve on that performance if he’s going to remain the ace of the staff.

The rest of the rotation is comprised of more highly-touted youngsters, including Matt Garza (26), David Price (24), Jeff Niemann (27), and Wade Davis (24).

Niemann led the Rays in wins last season, Price is a former no. 1 overall draft pick, and Davis is Baseball America’s 34th best prospect heading into the 2010 season.

Needless to say, expectations are high.

2010 Prediction: 89-73, Third place, AL East

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