MLB 2013 Preview: Tampa Bay Rays

This could be Tampa Bay's year Photo: Tampa Bay ace David Price/AP Nam Y. Huh

LOS ANGELES, March 15, 2013 — The Tampa Bay Rays finished with a respectable record of 90-72, but were unable to reach the playoffs while finishing third in the American League East. The Rays’ winter was a busy and very productive one.

Tampa Bay brought in three new infielders with the acquisitions of Kelly Johnson, Yunel Escobar and James Loney. The offense ranked 18th in runs scored and 27th in team batting average. These additions should help to improve those rankings in 2013.

The Rays also traded starter James Shields to Kansas City for a couple of major league ready prospects in Wil Meyers and Jake Odorizzi. Both should make an impact by 2014 at the latest, but could realistically make an impact for Tampa Bay this year.

I think one of the AL wild card spots will come from this division and it should be a fun race to see who finishes first and second in the AL East for everyone other than those in the north eastern section of the country.

Desmond Jennings gets some shaving cream from Evan Longoria/AP

Projected payroll: $57,480,975

Notable Players Out: CF B.J. Upton, 1B Carlos Peña, 2B Jeff Keppinger, RHP James Shields, RHP Wade Davis

Notable Players In: 2B Kelly Johnson, SS Yunel Escobar, 1B James Loney, RHP Jamey Wright, RHP Roberto Hernandez

Prospect Watch: OF Wil Myers and RHP Chris Archer

Highlight Hitter: 3B Evan Longoria (ZiPS 2013 Projections: .263/.359/.486 24 HR/72 R/85 RBI)

Highlight Pitcher: LHP David Price (ZiPS 2013 Projections: 16-9, 3.03 ERA, 8.71 K/9, 207.7 IP)

Projected Lineup: C Jose Molina, 1B James Loney, 2B Kelly Johnson, 3B Evan Longoria, SS Yunel Escobar, LF Matt Joyce, CF Desmond Jennings, RF Ben Zobrist, DH Luke Scott

Projected Rotation: LHP David Price, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, LHP Matt Moore, RHP Alex Cobb, RHP Jeff Niemann

Projected Closer: RHP Fernando Rodney

Manager: Joe Maddon

Projected 2013 Finish in AL East: 1. Tampa Bay Rays  2. Toronto Blue Jays  3. Baltimore Orioles  4. New York Yankees  5. Boston Red Sox

Kevin J. Wells writes about Major League Baseball and punk rock music.  Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Kevin J Wells

Kevin J. Wells was born and raised in the Los Angeles area in a town called Montrose.  He currently plays guitar for and is a founding member of the Los Angeles punk rock band Emmer Effer.  He has worked in a number of different career fields including Behavioral Therapy, Commodities, Insurance, and most recently a food cart in Portland, OR. Kevin has been both a sports and entertainment columnist and editor for The Washington Times Communities since January 2013.

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