Matt Garza’s a Cub. Ditto for Carlos Pena. Jason Bartlett is a Padre. Rafael Soriano now calls the Bronx home. Grant Balfour’s in Oakland. Carl Crawford is, of course, now a Boston Red Sox, as is Dan Wheeler. Dioner Navarro? He’s a Dodger.

After a winter heavy on exits and light on entrances, Tampa Bay entered camp this spring with prognostications of hopeless mediocrity.

The contending team of the past three seasons? Lost to the winds of financial reality, which has never been a happy reality for the Rays.

A general sentiment still pervades that Joe Maddon’s depleted team is prime to be sliced and diced by the New York Yankees, the vastly retooled Red Sox and a potent Blue Jays squad on the up and up.

Weakened? Yes, the 2011 Rays are undoubtedly an inferior team to the 2010 Rays. But crippled? Hardly. The Rays are still a well-rounded team that will continue to challenge and perhaps even vex the Red Sox. Boston hasn’t won a season series against the Rays since 2007, going a combined 24-30 against Tampa since 2008.

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