Why the Dodgers are better than your team: Tampa Bay Rays
Much like the Orioles, the Rays are a fantastically run organization. Top to bottom the Rays have found a formula to compete in the AL East year in and year out while still maintaining a salary under or about the 70 million dollar range. For comparisons sake, the Yankees and Dodgers each have 3 players that make more than the Rays entire roster. Its true the Rays got younger this off season in the big move with the Royals, a move that is a pretty calculated risk. And when were talking about a potential playoff team, there is only one place that the Dodgers might meet up with the Rays. In a 7 game series, who is the better team?
* Because the Dodgers have such great depth in the outfield, and because their starting 3 are potential all-stars, the Dodgers have the edge in the outfield. Matt Kemp looks like he will come back healthy. Ethier claims that he has figured out left handed pitching, and Crawford also claims he is strong and healthy. Though I feel Crawford is at least another month from starting in the field, it wont matter much. Yasiel Puig should find his way on the roster until Crawford can show up healthy enough to start playing 4 to 5 times a week. Puig should be the player that steps in against lefties on a regular basis for Ethier and also Give Crawford regular time off. I doubt that happens. Regardless, the team has the depth to cover for Crawford if he misses more than expected.
I’m assuming that Crawford has a decent season. Somewhere in the 3-5 win area. That is pretty high hopes. Andre Ethier has averaged nearly 3 wins over the last 3 years. If he has figured out lefties just a little bit, or even if he is platooned so that his horribleness against them is mitigated somewhat, the Dodgers are that much better for it. Most projections suggest Kemp will get 4 to 6 wins. That’s 10 to 15 wins.
September 23, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Toronto Blue Jays Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
* The infield is where both teams have some question marks as well as some exclamation marks. Head to head, the positions are not a balanced fight. Longoria is better than Cruz, Hanley may be better than Escobar, Schumaker/Ellis is a push with Roberts/Johnson and Adrian easily trumps Loney. In the end I think the Dodgers have the edge in the infield because we really don’t know how many games Longo is going to play. AJ Ellis is every bit better than whoever is going to catch for the rays. Molina is a fantastic receiver.
February 21, 2013; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon (70) poses for a picture during photo day at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
* Though the Dodgers have fantastic depth in the rotation, the Rays depth is just as good. The Dodgers have 2 aces, where the Rays have 1. It’s those two aces that make the difference in a 7 game series. The Rays rotation looks really good in 2014, similar to their outfield. But in 2013 the Dodgers are the better team. The Dodgers pen is unquestionably better than the Rays. However, I have long lauded that Joe Maddon is the best manager in the game and he will be one of the main reasons that the rays would make it to the World Series to challenge the Dodgers for the title. To which they would helplessly lose.