A.L. East preview: Tampa Bay Rays


A.L. East preview: Tampa Bay Rays

By SeanMcAdam

For almost any other franchise, the loss of three everyday players, a top starting pitchers and no fewer than four key relievers would be catastrophic.

Then there's the Tampa Bay Rays, for whom those losses, while significant, aren't necessarily crippling, thanks to a terrific minor-league system which continues to churn out top prospects.

That influx, coupled with the arrival of Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez, should keep the Rays competitive. Then again, it's almost impossible to envision them repeating as division champions in 2011.

Three Things That Have To Go Right

1) Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez must stay healthy.
No one's expecting the duo to be the players they were five years ago, but staying on the field is imperative for this veteran bunch.

2) James Shields must have a bounce-back season.
Shields is now the Rays' most experienced starter and it's time he pitches like it. His 5.18 ERA last year was unacceptable for a veteran on an otherwise inexperienced staff.

3) B.J. Upton must start to make good on his potential.
His effort and dedication were in question at times and he has way too much raw talent to hit just .237.

Three Things That Can't Go Wrong

1) Ben Zobrist can't have the same kind of drop-off he had last season when he went from 27 homers to just 10.
More consistency is needed.

2) Kyle Farnsworth can't be as undependable as he's been in the past.
The Rays' bullpen was leveled by free agent defections and the onus will be on Farnsworth to step up and lock down the late innings.

3) Ramirez can't become a distraction to an otherwise young roster.
Manny's been a lot of things in his career, but role model has never been one of them. If things go sour, he could have a toxic effect on the clubhouse.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.FollowSeanon Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Red Sox outfield "Win, Dance, Repeat" celebration finds its way on MLB the Show 17


Red Sox outfield "Win, Dance, Repeat" celebration finds its way on MLB the Show 17

Mooke Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and a mix of Andrew Benintendi, Brock Holt, Blake Swihart and Chris Young brought postgame celebrations to a new level last season.

Most Sox fans are familiar with the outfield victory "Win, Dance, Repeat" where the trio would dance and pretend to photograph the game's best player between them. The celebration ended with a pose at first, but as seen the MLB the Show 17's freshly released trailer, a few more wrinkes were added in.

In fact, here's a taste of the celebrations and what else to expect from Playstation's 2017 MLB game:

Report: Red Sox DH target Beltran agrees to 1-year deal with Astros

Report: Red Sox DH target Beltran agrees to 1-year deal with Astros

Carlos Beltran, the 39-year-old switch hitter who was a potential target of the Red Sox as a DH, agreed to a free-agent deal with the Houston Astros, ESPN's Buster Olney reported.

FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reports that it's a one-year, $16 million deal. 

Beltran played for the Astros in 2004. He was dealt from the New York Yankees to the Texas Rangers at the July 31 trading deadline last season. He totaled 35 homers, 101 RBI and hit .295 in 2016. 

The Red Sox, looking to fill the void left by David Ortiz's retirement, will be looking for a DH at the Winter Meetings that begin next week. One possibility is the return of Mike Napoli, who played for the A.L. champion Cleveland Indians last season.

More on the Winter Meetings here from CSN Red Sox Insider Sean McAdam.