By: Booger McFarland Twitter: @lsuboogerBy Anthony “Booger” McFarland

Pitchers and catchers report today for the Tampa Bay Rays and excitement is in the air. The Rays have done what they call “all in” with the resigning of James Loney, David Dejesus and the acquisition of Heath Bell and Ryan Hanigan. But it doesn’t answer the elephant question in the room: Are they a better team? Honestly I just don’t know.

The Rays are a team built on pitching and defense and the foundation that they are built on let them down against the Red Sox last post season. As I like to say, the Red Sox out Rayed the Rays. That can’t happen if we want to win a World Series title. So what must happen to allow the Rays to achieve greatness?

Jon Gruden told our 2002 Buccaneer team that in order for us to win that our defense not only had to be great but we had to do something we had never done, score on defense. For the Rays they need to do something that they haven’t done with the best part of their team, the pitching staff, DOMINATE. It’s one thing to have a very good pitching staff, it’s another to be dominate. That’s the challenge for David Price, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer and Jeremy Helickson or Jake Odorizzi. Can they accept the challenge? We shall see.

Gruden challenged a defense that was very good to be great. I’m challenging the Rays pitching staff to do something they’ve never done, dominate together. Not 1 guy or 2 guys, but all 5. After all that is the strength of our team right? We do have the best staff in baseball right? Well just like Derrick Brooks, Simeon Rice, Warren Sapp and Ronde Barber all stepped up to the challenge I hope that the Rays pitching staff can do the same. After all, it’s only World Series or bust.