After a surprising 90 win season for the Tampa Bay Rays a year ago, that is now the expectation around Tampa Bay fans and front office brass alike.
“How can you not be optimistic,” Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg told the media earlier this week. “I have a belief that we can be a 90 win team,” he added.
That is a different tune than normal, and later in his quotes, he adds meaningless qualifiers and backtracks just a bit, but the proof is in the pudding. Even the Rays principal owner believes in this 2019 team, and it’s ability to make a playoff push in a tough A.L. East.
These quotes matter in relation to the front office brass’ willingness to spend money, spend assets and make a legitimate push.
With the money the Rays have to spend, and the talent still out there, like reliever Craig Kimbrel and the like, how can you sit back and wait on a 90-win team? The time is now to try and optimize your winnings. Look at Kansas City. They had the best farm system in baseball, like the Rays, a great core that was growing at the major league level, like the Rays, and still, their window of winning in a much less volatile A.L. Central, was a glorious two year span.
Only one of those were a year in which they went wire-to-wire and dominated the A.L. (2015) in 2014, the Royals were begging for fans to show up in August as they made their wild card push. That sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
There are only a few holes in the Rays big league club, back end starting pitchers (dependant on factors like bounce back candidates and injury rehabs) and they lack a key, star reliever. Other than that, sure you might want an upgrade at catcher, maybe first base depending on how you view the two options who each have their own gimmicky way of attracting fans.
Yet still, even with the position players all but solidified the Rays still have an amazing farm system, arguably the best in the Majors. Why not package some prospects to go grab some more arms for the back end of the bullpen?