Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays believe they can win AL East again

ST. PETERSBURG — So much has been said about what the Rays are missing after an offseason of departure, with 11 relevant players leaving as free agents and two more in trades — including franchise star Carl Crawford, three other All-Stars, their No. 2 starter and almost their entire bullpen — changing the face and form of their team.

But as they hang their 2010 American League East champion­ship banner tonight moments before David Price throws the first pitch of the new season, they remain confident they have the pieces — even with their payroll down 42 percent to $41 million — for a repeat performance.

"We're going to be a very dangerous team," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "I think to a man we feel like we're being underestimated on a national level.

"We have a lot of talent on this team, and our mind-set is to shock the world and defend our AL East crown."

They believe they can absorb the loss of No. 2 starter Matt Garza with the ascension of rookie Jeremy Hellickson and the offense — with the addition of veterans Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez and bounce-backs by B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist — can be better than last year's, which was third in the AL with 802 runs.

The concerns are the defense, specifically the losses of Crawford in left and Carlos Peña at first, and the massive overhaul of what had been one of the league's best bullpens as they start with a crew short on late-inning experience and success.

"I believe that we are good enough to repeat," manager Joe Maddon said. "I do. I believe the guys that we brought in are really going to surprise some folks. I think guys like Manny and John, keeping them rested is going to permit them to have really outstanding seasons. And then the new guys … have the potential to contribute greatly."

"I think we have a playoff team. I really do," third baseman Evan Longoria said. "A lot has to do with the fact that we're really comfortable together. … And I think the talent's there, 100 percent."

Marc Topkin can be reached at

Tampa Bay Rays believe they can win AL East again 04/01/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 1, 2011 11:42am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Erasmo Ramirez ready to start a day after closing game

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — RHP Erasmo Ramirez was on the mound to finish Sunday's 15-inning marathon win over the Twins and will start tonight's game against the Rangers.

    The Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez throws 12 pitches in the 15th inning against the Twins to earn the save then says after the game that he’s ready to make his scheduled start against the Rangers: “My arm feels good.”
  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    The Rays won because they got two innings of good relief from each of the two pitchers who contributed to them losing Saturday's game, Danny Farquhar (who again struck out Miguel Sano) and Tommy Hunter, who both posted zeroes.