Make us your home page
Instagram

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 happy with team, continue to look for upgrades as Yankees get better

INDIANAPOLIS — Making up the 19 games they finished behind the Yankees was already a mighty challenge for the Rays, and it became only more vexing Tuesday when the World Series champs reportedly acquired All-Star centerfielder Curtis Granderson.

"He's the kind of guy that fits into that landscape in New York where he's going to thrive within that kind of a situation," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "So of course he's going to make them better."

The Rays have their own issues, convinced they were better than last season's 84-win showing and confident they're good enough to challenge the Yankees and Red Sox for a playoff berth.

"I do believe we can compete now and in the future," Maddon said at his winter meetings media session.

To do so, they're trying to do a few things:

• Upgrade their bullpen and make a few other improvements on a somewhat limited budget.

They've been aggressive in extensive conversations to put themselves "in position to potentially do a couple things," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said, but nothing was imminent as of Tuesday night with both agents and other teams (with a trade more likely at this point) portraying the market as remarkably strong.

"Everyone's popular. … Each respective team or agent, there's at least five teams that are hot and heavy," Friedman said. "So either we have really good taste, or we're not necessarily getting the straight scoop."

• Coax a better performance from B.J. Upton, who had a disappointing 2009 season, and either get more from or get rid of Dioner Navarro and Pat Burrell, who were even worse, with the idea that the lineup, with Jason Bartlett likely returning to the leadoff spot, can be dynamic.

"Everybody is going to talk about the additions everybody else is making, talking about Granderson, and I've always said God bless the Yankees or the Red Sox or whatever, but I like our names," Maddon said.

"I like our names a lot. We've had a lot of experience over the last couple years, and I think we've learned a lot of good lessons. I have a lot of confidence in our group, playing well and getting back to the top next year within our division. I have a lot of confidence in our group."

• Take measures to make sure they don't repeat the 8-14 start that put them in an early hole from which they never escaped.

"The biggest thing is to get off to a better start, obviously," Maddon said. "If you look at last season, the poor April really did hurt us a lot and then an 11-game losing streak and then we ended up winning 84 games, which is really good in spite of all of those negative situations. …

"I think part of the poor start last year was the residue of the previous year, which was a good thing, because we got to the World Series, guys went through that longer season for the very first time."

The Rays made the tactical decision to take it slow in spring training, but Maddon said in retrospect that it was too late by then — that it was the "postseason hangover" that hurt them. "Just us dealing with the success and learning how to deal with it properly and move on from there," he said.

They won't have that problem coming off a third-place finish, and Maddon is already working on his "good start" speech for the first gathering in Port Charlotte.

"I like to talk about these things out front," he said. "I don't want it to be reactive, and I want our players to understand it and that's what I'm going to talk about in spring training."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Rays happy with team, continue to look for upgrades as Yankees get better 12/08/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 8, 2009 10:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Family a driving force for University of Tampa pitcher David Lebron

    College

    TAMPA — For University of Tampa junior pitcher David Lebron, baseball reminds him of family. He uses it to help honor the memory of his father, who taught him the game. One day, he hopes his career can help support his mother and allow her to rest.

    University of Tampa junior pitcher David Lebron (Courtesy of University of Tampa)
  2. L.A. delay could re-open Super Bowl chance for Tampa in 2021

    Blogs

    Construction delays on the NFL's new stadium in Los Angeles mean the Rams and Chargers won't be playing there until 2020, a year later than expected, and the ripple effect could give Tampa another chance at landing a Super Bowl in February 2021.

    Tampa and Raymond James Stadium last hosted a Super Bowl in 2009, when the Pittsburgh Steelers edged the Arizona Cardinals.
  3. Bucs' Gerald McCoy, Jameis Winston honored in NFL top 100

    Blogs

    Helping fans pass time through the offseason each summer, NFL Network has been unveiling its top 100 players for 2017 as chosen by the players, and the Bucs' Gerald McCoy and Jameis Winston are the first Tampa Bay players revealed, coming in at No. 52 and 57, respectively.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis WInston and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, shown in the 2016 season finale against the Panthers, have both been named to the NFL Network's top 100 players for 2017.
  4. The play occurred in the third inning when Angels rookie Nolan Fontana, making his major league debut, tried to slide past the tag of Rays second baseman Michael Martinez.
  5. Former Gator Caleb Brantley paying a steep price for nothing

    Bucs

    It turns out Caleb Brantley isn't quite the dirtbag that millions of people presumed. It's too bad the damage to his reputation and bank account is already done.

    Caleb Brantley, who dropped to the sixth round of the draft, works out during Browns rookie minicamp. [Associated Press]