FanPost

Rays still team to beat in 09

The Yankees are being the Yankees and that really shouldn't surprise us.  In fact, right now we should thank them for signing Texiera.  It kept him away from Boston who desperately needed to replace Ramirez in the lineup, and Texiera could have given them the 3-4 combo w/ him and Ortiz.  But now, they don't know what to expect out of Ortiz.  Can Pedroia replicate last season?  Can Lowell rebound from hip surgery?  Will Beckett be healthy?  Bottom line, Boston did not improve themselves this off-season, and last time I checked, they were a second-place team last year.

The Yankees are being praised for taking 3 of the top 4 free agents on the market this year.  How intelligent.  I mean, who would've thought using resources that no other team has and using them to sign the best free agents?  And to an extent, I agree with the comments being made that Sabathia replaces Mussina's production.  His one addition is he can go deeper into games, saving the bullpen.  But after how he was overused with the Brewers last season, he is an injury risk and no guarantee he can replicate those numbers.  How quickly people forget how he struggled greatly at the beginning of the season.  That should be a major red flag, especially in his return to the AL.  Regardless of how people think, the Yankees have not replaced Abreu and Giambi, even by adding Texiera.  And they still do not have a great bullpen.

The Rays are not to be forgotten in this mess.  They will get no where near the publicity they should for signing a Pat Burrell and Matt Joyce, but the Red Sox and Yankees will feel the difference.  Baseball executives all around the game raved about the Rays acquiring Joyce.  Joyce solidifies the outfield and gives the Rays the best team defense in the AL.  Burrell is a major upgrade at DH and gives the Rays and additional,legitimate middle-of-the-order bat.  Even better, the Rays have addition by subtraction, taking away E-Jax and replacing him with David "ice in his veins" Price who already has MLB credentials by closing out ALCS Game 7. 

This is shaping up to be the best division race in MLB history.  If the Rays can repeat, or at least win the wild card, then one of the Yankees or Red Sox and their third-world country payroll will be staying home in October. 

When you look at all the questions on every team, the Rays major question is health.  I like that.  It means the Rays have very few holes.  It means the only thing that stands in their way is something that they cannot control.  Bring on the Yankees.  Bring on the Red Sox.  It doesn't matter.  This Rays team that won the 08 AL East has even improved.  Put their best 9 on the field and their best pitching and they can stand toe-to-toe with any team they go up with.  That's all you can ask.

This post was written by a member of the DRaysBay community and does not necessarily express the views or opinions of DRaysBay staff.

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