On February 19th, spring training will dawn its beautiful, highly anticipated head for the Rays as pitchers and catcher will report to Port Charlotte to begin the excruciatingly slow process of preparing for the regular season.
The team has undergone some slight changes since they rocked Mark Buehrle on the final day of the 2015 season and Joey Butler receive a curtain call for his two home run effort. Since then, veterans John Jaso and Asdrubal Cabrera have signed multi-year deals elsewhere, while the Rays have filled their voids by acquiring Logan Morrison, Brad Miller, Steve Pearce, and Corey Dickerson via trade or free agency.
The Rays have also added depth behind the plate as they acquired former prized catching prospect, Hank Conger, to compete with Rene Rivera and Curt Casali for the main catching duties this season. In the bullpen, the Rays didn't have much change, except for trading the best reliever in team history as Jake McGee was sent to Colorado in the Dickerson deal. However, the Rays did add Danny Farquhar.
Right now, the team is stacked at several positions, and if another move isn't made, there are going to be some tough battles this spring, However, that could be a positive as last season may have taught us that you can never have too much depth at any position as they Rays had to resort to employing Jake Elmore and Marc Krauss at first at some points in 2015.
So, what is the team's biggest weakness?
Is there too much depth at certain positions?
This can be seen as a plus to some, but may also be a weakness as the team may have to be willing to let some of their talent go when the regular season begins just due to there not being enough roster space.
As the roster stands,you have three first baseman in Morrison, Loney, and Pearce, while there is a logjam for the starting left field job as Brandon Guyer, Desmond Jennings, Corey Dickerson, and Mikie Mahtook are all candidates to take the position, and that's not to mention who will take the DH duties -- Dickerson, Pearce, and Morrison are leading candidates for that as well.
Let's not forget about the catching situation either as Curt Casali may have to start the year in Durham if Rene Rivera sticks around. Hank Conger is a likely lock, and his power with Casali's could be a real thumping pair.
Is there not enough bullpen depth?
The bullpen was one of the main downfalls of the club year as many games were lost late due to improper moves or just poor performance from some key players, and now, Jake McGee won't be there.
An already weak bullpen, just got weaker with that trade, but hopefully Brad Boxberger is able to return to form, Alex Colome continues to progress, and Enny Romero is able to figure it out and you're looking at a pretty strong 7-8-9. And with the emergence of Xavier Cedeno, the Rays possess more than a decent LOOGY, and will add Danny Farquhar as a decent bounceback candidate.
You have your long man in Matt Andriese, and Steve Geltz is there to get outs when needed. Andrew Bellatti is the first man out of Durham... That's a young group of pitchers. That's an inexperienced group of pitchers. Is it a bad group of pitchers?
Is there enough health?
In 2015, the main deterrent to the club was the massive amount of injuries suffered early on as they had 11 players on the disabled list in early May, with three of those being their front three in the rotation, as well as their primary first baseman.
Are the Rays better suited this year? It certainly seems like it, as the too much depth situation above would certainly help out.
The Rays have backups at every position pretty much, with plenty of prospects in the rotation at Durham, Shaffer to cover Longo, Motter or Beckham to cover the middle infield, and the complete outfield logjam.
What say you, what is the Rays' biggest weakness?