Will We Have Version 2.0 of the 2011 Tampa Bay Rays Next Year?

That is one of many questions on the brain for some people going into the off-season.
By 2011 Tampa Bay Rays I don’t mean an almost insane-like run that pushed them into the postseason, but a team that lost a good portion of its team going into the season after a year (2010) in which they contended.

 
Just as a refresher here are last year’s “contenders”. I thought hard about putting Cleveland on this list, but the dismal collapse of the Indians pushed their record to manilla folderville.

 
• St. Louis
• Detroit
• Milwaukee
• New York
• Philadelphia
• Tampa Bay
• Arizona
• Atlanta
• San Francisco
• Anaheim
• Boston
• Texas

 
This is not going to be the offseason for major, dark-horse type trades. Justin Verlander is not getting dealt to Oakland on a whim, and Justin Upton is not going to be a Met. That being said, we probably won’t be looking at the same “contenders” next year.
For one, Milwaukee and St. Louis could experience severe setbacks with the prospective losses of their first baseman. Arizona might have been a fluke. Texas could be detrimental without CJ Wilson, and Tampa might go through another full scale meet and greet on Day 1 of spring training.

 

 

But most of this probably won’t occur, and in all essence we could be looking at this same group plus some other squads. Cleveland could be better with the Derek Lowe addition, and the Marlins have some money to spend, as do the Cubs.

 

 

All in all these are the teams who probably drop off the most next year.
• San Francisco. The Giants have apparently already dealt Jonathan Sanchez, and might move Tim Lincecum. Offensive changes are probably in order as well seeing as Carlos Beltran could be at a new address come Opening Day. And there is the log jams that the Giants have in the infield with Jeff Keppinger, Mike Fontenot, Mark DeRosa, Emanuel Burris, Brandon Crawford and Freddy Sanchez fighting for two spots. If you thought that was messy wait till you see their outfield log jam, worthy of an episode on the History Channel show Ax Men. The Giants used Beltran, Cody Ross, Andres Torres, Brandon Belt, Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell and DeRosa in the outfield. Not to mention the fact that they just acquired Melky Cabrera in the Jonathan Sanchez trade. If the Giants make the right decisions on which players to keep, then they will contend, but if not, well let’s just say you won’t be seeing another championship.

 
• Milwaukee. The Brewers have less of a chance of bringing Prince Fielder back than the Cardinals resigning Albert Pujols. That being said, the Brewers probably lose the Prince via free agency. While a compensation of a Jose Reyes or someone like that is nice, it just seems like a lost cause. Even with Reyes on their team I think the Brewers sorely miss Fielder, and with Matt Gamel or someone like that at first base, you’re looking at 85-87 wins tops. These guys will contend for the wild card no doubt, but I just don’t see them playing at the same high level they did last season.

 
• Anaheim. I don’t see their offense doing much, and the left side of the infield doesn’t have a lot of power at all. Plus, Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells are only getting older. On top of that they don’t have much room for Mike Trout whenever he gets to the big leagues because of Hunter, Wells and Peter Bourjos occupying the outfield and Bobby Abreu at DH. There’s also the Mark Trumbo/ Kendrys Morales situation at first base. If one isn’t traded,  then they probably take the DH role from Abreu. Making it increasingly harder for them to find everyday room for the super prospect Trout. Their pitching will put them ahead of Seattle and Oakland but not much further.

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