Rays Neander Believes Talent Is There
Tampa Bay Rays baseball is back. Pitchers and catchers reported to Port Charlotte on Wednesday with the full squad expected to report by Sunday.
Erik Neander, Chaim Blooom, and Manager Kevin Cash met with the media to discuss a variety of topics as the team readies itself for the 2018 season.
Erik Neander believes the success of the team depends on two things. First, the health of the veteran players and guys that have established themselves at the major league level. Second, the younger talent that we have. How that breaks through and what they can provide.
He cautions that it’s not easy to come to the major league level and have immediate success. “I think for us to compete we’re going to need some guys to step up and provide that.” said Neander. “Certainly, I think the talent is there for that to happen.”
After an off-season that saw the team trade away the face of the franchise Evan Longoria and had Alex Cobb, Steve Cishek, Tommy Hunter, and Logan Morisson depart for free agency, it’s fair to ask if this is a rebuilding year for the team. Especially considering trade winds continue to swirl with Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Colome, and Brad Miller.
Neander is quick to point out that youth has always been a staple of the organization’s success.
“The successes of this organization has had over the last ten years has been by way of young players stepping up and taking on greater roles and carrying us forward. I don’t think 2018 is any different than any other year prior.” He said. “We’ve been very dedicated to building our system up over the last 3-4-5 years but really throughout it’s something we know we need to do but we’ve really made some positive strides the last handful of years here.
“I think that’s something that can carry us forward. How to label the year, I’m not so sure what would be most appropriate. We’ve said it over and over throughout the winter the young group we have, the talent we have, with some of the established guys, the talent is there. Whether it can mature fast enough to make this a really successful year remains to be seen but we are really excited about the talent.”
As with most seasons with the Rays, they are going to need the veteran players to meet expectations and stay healthy. They have little margin for error with injuries as we have seen in the past several seasons. On top of the veteran production, the team is going to need to have the youth land on the roster and rapidly have success.