The Tampa Bay Rays aren't afraid of lofty expectations.
Go ahead, pencil them in as World Series contenders. After making the playoffs three of the past four seasons, they concede it'll be a major disappointment if they aren't playing deep into October this year.
The cost-conscious franchise rarely creates splashy headlines during the offseason, and this winter has been no different. But after quietly bolstering the middle of the batting order with a couple of modest, but productive free-agent acquisitions, manager Joe Maddon thinks the team has a very good chance to return to the postseason.