1. David Price
-Eventually, sometime...Price will be in the majors. Maybe not right away, but make no mistake about it, Price will play a large role in how far Rays go in 2009. Price is immensely talented as we saw last season during the playoffs and has the potential to be one of the best pitchers in baseball. He's that good. It's just a matter of when the Rays give Price the call to join the rotation and hopefully, he won't have some crazy low innings limit when he does reach the majors. Let's see him pitch!
2. Pat the Bat
-If the Rays had one substantial weakness last season, it was that they lacked pop from the right side of the plate besides Evan Longoria. But luckily for the Rays, Pat Burrell fell into their laps this offseason when the economy tanked and prices came crashing down. Burrell is exactly what the the Rays offense needed and hell, Burrell won't even have to play defense in the American League. This deal was a true win-win for the Rays and could make the team even better in 2009.
3. A full season of Evan Longoria
-It seems like Longoria has been around forever at this point, but the reality is that Longoria has not even played in a full season in the major leagues. Some folks tend to forget that because Longoria had such a big impact for the Rays both offensively and defensively. This guy is an absolute stud and I'm excited to see how Longoria performs over a full season. I'm sure he will put up some huge numbers, especially in this lineup.
4. A healthy Troy Percival
-The Rays bullpen is fantastic. Make no mistake about it. I really feel as though this group will be one of the best in baseball. However, they still need a consistent closer. Hopefully, that will be Troy Percival. When Percival was healthy last season, he performed very well and was a stabilizing force for the young Rays bullpen. A healthy Percival would make the Rays bullpen even deeper and provide consistency in the ninth inning, something the Rays lacked too often in the second half of last year and into the playoffs.
5. The return of BJ Upton
-BJ Upton has been in the major leagues for two seasons now, but his potential still remains untapped. Upton has proven that he can hit for power (24 HR in '07), steal bases (44 SB in '08), and get on base (.380+ OBP in '07 and '08), all of which is very impressive. The potential is very much there. Upton needs to stay healthy and play 150+ times this season if Upton is going to fulfill his massive potential. Hopefully BJ won't miss too much time in April because the Rays are going to need him...big time.
A short appreciation of Doug Melvin
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