If you have been hanging around these parts for a while, you know that the model for this site is to tell you what the Rays have done, what they are doing and try to project what they will do based on what we have learned. Unlike most team blogs, we do not very often tell you what the Tampa Bay Rays should do. However, for the next 12 days we will step away from the standard, and we present to you 12 “presents” the Tampa Bay Rays should give to their fans.

On the twelfth day of Raysmas, the Tampa Bay Rays gave to us, TWELVE games with the same batting order…

In 2008, the following was the most commonly used batting order by Joe Maddon:

  1. Aki Iwamura
  2. Carl Crawford
  3. BJ Upton
  4. Carlos Pena
  5. Evan Longoria
  6. Cliff Floyd
  7. Dioner Navarro
  8. Eric Hinske
  9. Jason Bartlett

Pretty standard right? The above batting order was used nine (9!) times.

While Maddon prefers a flexible lineup and tries to utilize his bench as much as possible, he has repeatedly said that he would prefer to run the same lineup out everyday. Unfortunately that was not possible in 2008 and may have led to the inconsistency of the offense.

Several things will have to happen in 2009 to see more consistency in the batting order…

A HEALTHY ROSTER: It is well-known that most of the everyday players missed significant time in 2008 with various injuries. But it may not be clear exactly how much of a toll those injuries had on the everyday lineup.

In fact, the 10 players in the above batting order were only in the lineup on the same day 16 times all season. Full seasons from Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, BJ Upton and Carlos Pena will go a long ways towards a consistent lineup.

CONSISTENCY IN RIGHT FIELD: In 2008, nine different players played right field. Gabe Gross, who logged the most playing time in right field (75 games) will likely be back in 2009. Unless the Rays bring in a most-days right fielder or Matt Joyce can prove he is ready to be an everyday hitter, Gross will likely platoon with…somebody.

Even a regular platoon would add stability to right field, but right now we have little idea who would be Gross’ mirror. Willy Aybar, Ben Zobrist, Justin Ruggiano and Fernando Perez are all options. But in 2008 the Rays right fielders were only 10th amongst AL right fielders in OPS (.809). None of those four players seem likely to help the Rays become even league average.

CONSISTENCY AT DH: Trivia: After Floyd’s 72 games as a DH, which player appeared the most times at DH?

*Jeopardy theme*

Jonny Gomes. 24 games.

Nine right fielders is a lot in one season, but it paled in comparison to the 11 hitters used at DH. While there has been lots of talk of bringing in an impact bat to DH, the move still has not happened. If it does, that will go a long ways towards bringing consistency to the lineup.

On the twelfth day of Raysmas, all Rays fans want is TWELVE games with the same batting order and…
ELEVEN postseason wins
[Day 11]
TEN saves for Grant Balfour [Day 10]
NINE no-hit innings [Day 9]
EIGHT starts for Jeff Niemann
[Day 8]
SEVEN-year extension for BJ Upton [Day 7]
SIX months with at least 15 wins [Day 6]
FIVE-year extension for Matt Garza
[Day 5]
FOUR pitchers with 15 wins [Day 4]
THREE Gold Glove awards [Day 3]
TWO months in triple-A for David Price [Day 2]
ONE impact bat with a bow on top [Day 1]

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16 Comments

  1. kyle says:

    AMEN

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  2. Charles says:

    Rosenthal has the Rays close to signing Pat Burrell, which would go a long way toward helping the stable lineup issue.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    With the recent Burrell signing this a possible lineup from Buster Oney,

    2B A. Iwamura (L)
    CF B.J. Upton (R)
    LF C. Crawford (L)
    3B E. Longoria (R)
    1B C. Pena (L)
    DH P. Burrell (R)
    RF M. Joyce (L)
    C D. Navarro (S)
    SS J. Bartlett (R)

    I like this lineup.

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  4. Possum Avenger says:

    "Willy Aybar, Ben Zobrist, Justin Ruggiano and Fernando Perez are all options. But in 2008 the Rays right fielders were only 10th amongst AL right fielders in OPS (.809). None of those four players seem likely to help the Rays become even league average."

    Have to disagree with you here. I think that an Aybar/Gross platoon would be league average in OPS and would ne above average defensively.

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