Almost two-thirds of the 2013 MLB season is in the rear-view mirror.
The Tampa Bay Rays are fire-hot with a chance to move into first place in the AL East amidst a crucial series with division leader Boston. So it's doubtful the team will make any moves before the July 31 MLB trade deadline. But for the sake of debate, I've come up with five possible scenarios that are at the very least kind of interesting.
With OF Wil Myers (.316/.341/.496, 5 HR in 29 games) providing the missing link -- a legitimate power threat to support 3B Evan Longoria (.277/.356/.519, 21 HRs) -- the Rays don't really need help to make a run for the AL East crown. (And none of that wild-card stuff, please; not even as the top team -- the single-game dice throw MLB added last year makes me exceedingly nervous.)
Rays' Offense Is a Machine With Many Moving Parts...
Offensively in 2013, Rays manager Joe Maddon has created a machine with many moving parts; he's a master mechanic and has kept things humming along pretty smoothly (.262 BA and a shocking 113 HRs, sixth-best in MLB).
Despite a few hiccups getting out of the gate, the Rays clearly don't need pitching help. The starters could all be aces on almost any other staff (with the exception of Roberto Hernandez, whose 5-10 record with a 4.90 ERA and 1.31 WHIP will give Maddon some interesting options when Alex Cobb comes back from the DL).
The bullpen has been surprisingly terrific. Alex Torres (0.32 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, .076 opponent BA -- those are not misprints) continues to shoot out the lights. Jake McGee (19 holds, 50 Ks in 38 innings) is emerging as a young buck. Joel Peralta (3.07, 1.05 and an MLB-best 26 holds) is either driven by demons, or a robot with emotions. I'm willing to keep rolling with Fernando Rodney as closer right now; every outing is scarier than "The Conjuring," but he's undeniably getting the job done (28 saves, 58 Ks in 42 innings).