Spring training for the Tampa Bay Rays has started at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Disney World in Orlando, Florida. They have come off four straight playoff appearances. Last year it ended in the first round against the Cleveland Guardians. The reason that they are not playing at their normal spring training facility is because of hurricane Ian. The pitchers and catchers reported yesterday. General manager Erik Neander wants to along with manager Kevin Cash want to make a long playoff run in 2023. The fans have some questions coming into the season. The team most of the time focused on pitching. The offense has been an issue the last few seasons. At this point, there has been no attempt to fix that. How will they fix scoring runs in 2023? Are they going to be able to overcome the injuries that plagued them in 2022?
At this point, one of the biggest questions is who is going to play first base. Ji-Man Choi was traded to the Pittsburg Pirates. I have heard that he is having some issues with the Pirates but hopefully, those will get figured out before the opening day. On 620 WDEA this morning on the Pat and Aaron Show they heard rumors that they might move Yandy Diaz over to first. Diaz has been a cornerstone at third base which many say is the toughest position to play in baseball. That means the Tampa Bay Rays may move Isaac Paredes or Taylor Walls over to third to fill the hole that Diaz has left. Many have also heard that they will Brandon Lowe or the other option would be prospect Jonathan Aranda. It will be interesting to see if that will be solved before shifting to Tropicana Field.
The big bat the Tampa Bay Rays have been looking for they have tried. They were linked to Michael Brantley, Brandon Belt, and Sean Murphy. But the biggest reasons are the payroll. They do not have the funds to sign certain players. They are hoping that Josh Lowe will progress in his development and become a player that can become better offensively. The two biggest offensive weapons are Wander Franco and Brandon Lowe. The problem with Franco is whether can he stay on the field. For Lowe can he be consistent instead of hitting homers or striking out? If the gamble and it works out then it will work out. If not hopefully around the trade deadline they will have to make a move. The Rays averaged only three runs per game last year which will not cut the cheese. They cannot make a long playoff run like that.
Players from the 2022 roster will be missed in Ji-Man Choi, Ryan Yarbrough, Kevin Kiermaier, and Mike Zunino. Kiermaier was a leader in the clubhouse and even though Jose Siri replaced him in the outfield. It is very hard to replace someone like Kiermaier. Zunino and Choi were big when it came to the offense for the Tampa Bay Rays. Yarbrough was a big part of the pitching staff which the Rays have made some changes to. Erik Neander said that was the focus not the offense during the offseason. It seems that Kevin Cash always seems to get what players he has and turns them into a winning team. This is going to be interesting as opening day approaches.
There are many other questions facing the Tampa Bay Rays. We will see if the injury bug does not bite them as it did in 2022. Hopefully, Franco and Lowe can be big batts in the Tampa Bay offense. Also, let’s hope there are no problems for the pitching staff through spring training or during the season. If they do decide to move Diaz over to first will that leaves a hole at third? Or if they do not move Diaz over and hope they can fill the first base role in-house. I also believe they will get a free-agent bat in the lineup to help. It will start at Disney World for two weeks and then move to the stadium where they play their home games in Tropicana Field.
Can the Tampa Bay Rays get their problems solved before opening day? Leave a comment below.
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