Carlos Pena Among Rays’ Quiet Offensive Upgrades As Tampa Bay May Pose Even Stronger Threat in AL East


Carlos Pena Among Rays' Quiet Offensive Upgrades As Tampa Bay May Pose Even Stronger Threat in AL EastThe silent style suits the Rays perfectly. Since 2008, Tampa Bay has lurked in the bushes, quietly leapfrogging rivals for elusive playoff spots or even division titles.

Staying true to form, the Rays' offseason has been silently productive. By signing first baseman Carlos Pena, the team regained one of the key cogs from its run to the 2008 World Series.

The addition of Luke Scott is just icing. During his last full season in 2010, the designated hitter belted 27 homers, 72 RBIs and batted .284. Despite being limited to 64 games in 2011 because of a shoulder injury, Scott homered nine times to go along with 22 RBIs.

They aren't sexy signings. But Pena and Scott signal strong upgrades over Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman, who started at designated hitter and first base, respectively for Tampa Bay last season.

Both Damon and Kotchman combined for 26 homers and 121 RBIs in 2011. If you take into account Scott's production in 2010 and Pena's numbers last season, they collectively averaged 55 round-trippers and 152 RBIs.

Just imagine how potent the Rays offense could become. Pena is also a past Gold Glove winner, and he'll help the Rays' defense remain consistent.

"I always felt there's still one more chapter that needs to be written to this story," Pena said at his introductory news conference. "And here I have an opportunity, we have an opportunity, to give it a nice ending. We understand it started at, 'Once upon a time there was a ballclub called the Rays' … we haven't gotten to that last page."

In speaking with the Tampa Tribune recently, manager Joe Maddon acknowledged the other assets that Scott would bring to the Rays.

"When his arm is well, his defense is fine," Maddon said. "He does a lot of things we like. He plays hard. He runs hard to first base. A lot of things he can do go unnoticed."

There's also Desmond Jennings. When the prospect was promoted to the majors in 2011, he contributed 10 homers, 25 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. The speedster is expected to enter the year as the starting left fielder and could pose a greater threat to rival pitchers.

But at the end of the day, the Rays' success will be predicated on its vaunted pitching staff. With highly touted rookie Matt Moore in position to claim a rotation spot, the Rays' roster could still improve by Opening Day.

The silent success should strike fear into the hearts of the Yankees and Red Sox.

Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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