Bloody Sox wrote:I definitely think the Rays could be dangerous this year... Shields, Garza, and Price performed well below my expectations for all three of them (Garza was OK early, but tailed off), Soriano to the bullpen is a nice addition, and I like Shoppach but it has to be a red flag that Cleveland hardly played him last year even after Victor Martinez was traded to Boston. I am not too high on BJ Upton - he's obviously talented seems like a punk who just doesn't have his head in it. Maybe he just needs to grow up. So there's potential in Tampa for sure.
I think the talk of the Red Sox offense being some huge weakness that is going to cost them a playoff spot is greatly exaggerated. They scored the 3rd most runs in baseball last year with the 2nd highest team OPS. They return Ellsbury, Pedroia, Youk, V. Martinez, Ortiz, and Drew... overall those 6 guys should match last year's output. They downgrade from Bay to Cameron/Hermida, but they also upgrade from Green/Gonzalez/Lowrie to Scutaro. So the entire lineup is more or less a wash except for what they do to replace Lowell's production - as of right now there is definitely a hole there, but its not one that can't be patched and even if its not, its not like the entire lineup is going to fall to pieces.
I definitely like the Red Sox lineup for the most part, and certainly don't fall into the camp that make it out to be a putrid mess. That said, I like the Rays lineup better as it is younger and likely trending upward while the Red Sox lineup is older and likely declining a smidge (not necessarily Pedroia/Ellsbury/Youkilis, but Ortiz/Drew/V-Mart/Cameron possibly). I still think with the pitching the Red Sox feature (and a much improved defense with Cameron replacing Bay) they will be in the wild card hunt. I just feel like all the off-season talk seems to be neglecting what the Rays have done (which admittedly isn't splashy, but appears to be effective to my two eyes).
I really think the AL wild card race will be quite exciting this season. I also think that though the Yankees should be the favorites to come out of the AL again, there are certainly formidable opponents in the AL to de-throne them (and seem to be building their teams in an effective manner to compete, i.e. pitching and defense).