With several key departures, Evan Longoria is going to be called upon to shoulder the burden more than ever. The 25-year-old third baseman is plenty capable. His two gold gloves, offensive pedigree and leadership skills -- notice the dugout spat last year with B.J. Upton began when Longoria quietly told Upton to hustle. It's time now for Longoria to take another step toward becoming more than just a team MVP. He finished fourth in league MVP voting last year. And he dipped to 22 home runs.
PLAYER ORACLE -- Quinton McCracken to B.J. Upton
McCracken played with Grant Balfour for the 2001 Minnesota Twins
Balfour played with Upton on the 2010 Rays
[Note: We were severely hampered here with the Rays coming into existence in 1998 and Mike DiFelice and Dan Wheeler being on both early and late incarnations of the Rays]
The Rays were largely ignored for their early years, as they struggled to get the win total past the mid-60s. Lately, though, we've seen an increased presence -- namely Longoria's Jason Bourne-like tracking of his cap in the New Era commercial . But we've all seen that. Let's go with a cartoon called "Defenders of the Game," starring the voices of several Rays players and manager Joe Maddon. Check out season two, episode one below.
-- Matt Snyder
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