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Tampa Bay Rays: Could We Start This Season Over Again

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 6: Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 6: Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /
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What if the Tampa Bay Rays season could start all over again by eliminating the injuries and with the additions added at the trade deadline available from the start? If that all happened, here is what that team would have looked like on Opening Day.

It’s not been a good stretch for the Tampa Bay Rays over the last three weeks. The team has lost thirteen of twenty games including eleven against division leading teams or teams in the wild card race. They went through a record setting run scoring drought and have wasted numerous quality efforts by their starting pitching. They are now ten games out of first place and playing below .500 baseball.

Despite all of this, I think this is a pretty good Rays’ team that will get better when Matt Andriese and Kevin Kiermaier come back. Much of the season has been defined by an abnormal number of injuries to key players.

The front office saddled the team with a miserable bullpen in the first half of the season. The usual catcher problems and a shaky middle infield made things worse. All of that has been corrected since the All-Star break and the team looked like it was poised for a solid second half.

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However, for some reason, the baseball gods wouldn’t let it happen. The offense disappeared for a ten game span hitting .166 and going 3-for-45 with runners in scoring position. The Rays claim this was a fluke and, to a degree, I would agree with them.

However, the season may be lost. I just wish that we could start the season over again, eliminate the injuries and have the players the Rays have acquired in July. If that all happened, here’s what that team would have looked like on Opening Day.

Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Alex Cobb would have led the starting rotation. Andriese would have been solid in the four spot. Jim Hickey then could have chosen between Blake Snell, Jake Faria and Austin Pruitt to complete the rotation. The bullpen would have featured Alex Colome as the closer with Tommy Hunter, Brad Boxberger and Steve Cishek as right handed set up men. Xavier Cedeno and Dan Jennings would have provided capable left handed arms.

A new beginning might also give the team an opportunity to take another look at the catcher situation. Knowing that Wilson Ramos wouldn’t be available until August, they might have decided that Jesus Sucre and Curt Casali might be a better bridge to Ramos than Derek Norris and Sucre.

The infield would have looked a lot better if Adeiny Hechavarria would have been the shortstop on day one of the season. Matched up with Evan Longoria at third and a combination of Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda at first, the Rays would have had defense and power at three of the four infield positions.

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They also would have had choices at second with Tim Beckham, Brad Miller and Daniel Robertson competing for the job. Finally, Morrison and Duda would have given the team a solid 1B/DH combination.

The outfield of Corey Dickerson, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. would have offered offensive and defensive strength. Mallex Smith and Peter Bourjos would have given the team a left handed and right handed bat off the bench.

The group would have been even stronger if the Rays had not foolishly traded away Mikie Mahtook. And lastly, they would not have to have spent free agent money on a less than production Colby Rasmus.

Would this team have been as good as Boston or the New York Yankees? We’ll never know. They might have run into the same rash of injuries that has plagued them over the last two years.

They might have hit the same mysterious slump that has crippled them in August. However, overall, I think this Rays team would have has a good chance of going deep into the playoffs.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays In Midst of Historically Bad Run

What if the season happened all over again, we will never know… but we can only wonder what if it did.

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