For much of the season, the Tampa Bay Rays were concerned with building a new home.
Perhaps they should have been worried about how to get home instead.
In their first season under Kevin Cash, the Rays were 14th in a 15-league American League as far as scoring runs in last year’s 80-82 season. And while injuries to the pitching staff were a main factor, the team’s offense, as always, turned out to be insufficient.
The Rays were seventh in the league in batting, but still didn’t score enough runs. The team started the season 40-30, but finished 40-52.
This year, Tampa Bay will have a solid outfield returning with gold glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaker, Mikey Mahtook and Steven Souza Sr. If the team doesn’t lose too much of its pitching — and trades for Jake Odorizzi, Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger have been mentioned — it figures to be an outside contender for a wild card position.
The Rays lost shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, but hope that Brad Miller — who they traded for — can fill the hole. The Rays also hope their bullpen can be strong, but the possible trades of McGee and Boxberger might affect that.
As usual, the AL East will be talented. There are the reloaded Red Sox, the returning champion Blue Jays, the Yankees and the Orioles.