Conventional wisdom is a tricky thing, as Buster Olney explains here. What we think will happen, and what actually comes to fruition, can be two very different things. Conventional wisdom told us that the Chargers would beat the Jets, the Mets would compete with the Phillies, Albert Pujols would win the MVP, and Lost wouldn't suck after season two. One of those things happened.
With that being said, here are some pieces of conventional wisdom about the Rays upcoming season. Some may come true, and some may fail miserably. We won't know until October.
B.J. Upton will have a much improved 2010 season
While some may disagree and believe that Upton's skills don't seem to be matching the considerable hype surrounding them, most believe that once fully healthy he will be able to come close to replicating his 2007 form. To be fair, it would be nearly impossible for Upton to be as bad or worse than he was last season when he posted a sub .700 OPS. Upton's OBP was a eye-popping .313, which was a good 70 points below his average from '07-08. Unless Upton's body has been snatched and replaced with Jeff Francoeur, that's not happening again. The lowest projection for Upton shown by FanGraphs is a .768 OPS, so only the most cynical of people would believe Upton won't bounce back in 2010.
The addition of Rafael Soriano will help stablize the bullpen
The clamoring for the Rays to add a real closer was met this offseason with the addition of Soriano. The move was not made too appease the public; it was made because the Front Office saw an opportunity it could not pass up. The bullpen is not finalized by any means, and we know how Joe Maddon does not fancy defined roles within it, but the addition of Soriano should create a nice combination of arms with Wheeler, Balfour, Howell bridging the gap to the ninth. The signing also allows Wheeler to avoid high leverage situations, and lets Howell resume his role as a rover, which are both very good things. The team lost too many late leads a season ago; if Soriano works out the way we all hope, things should be very different in 2010.
Wade Davis and David Price will continue to develop and prosper
The two most exciting and promising members of the Rays rotation, Davis and Price should each continue to progress in 2010. Davis only started six games last season, but pitched well to the tune of a 2.90 FIP. Obviously, he isn't expected to do that over 150IP, but a FIP somewhere in the range of 4.30 wouldn't be a surprise. David Price seemed to be putting together all of the puzzle pieces as last season wound down. With Davis getting more accustomed to pitching at the highest level, and Price continuing to develop and command different pitches, the two should help fortify the middle of the Rays' rotation.
Pat Burrell will be better in 2010
He just has to...right? I'm banking on his line against LHP looking less like the 2009 version of .202/.366/.252, and more like his career of .269/.403/.513. That drop in production is far too large to be anything other than a statistical anomaly. The neck injury he was dealing with for most of last season was also a contributing factor in his poor performance. If all is right with Burrell in 2010 I don't see why he couldn't approach numbers resembling what he posted with the Phillies.
Jason Bartlett will turn back into a pumpkin
We know all about his amazing 2009 campaign, but there is little hope that he can duplicate it. For the Rays sake I hope Bartlett succeeds just long enough for the team to find a suitable trading partner for him. When it comes to Bartlett, I know there are fans out there with a glass half-full mentality to go along with their rose colored glasses. I get it. You like him so you believe he can do it again. I liked Brady Anderson and his sideburns, but I didn't expect him to hit 50 home runs again. As Malcom Gladlwell has illustrated to us, outliers do happen. I hope I'm wrong about Bartlett, but every analytical bone in my body is telling me I'm not.