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. Think of RI as “Tampa Bay Rays 101.”
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. Looking back at last year’s 12 Days of Raysmas, we see that many of our wishes came true (including that sweet no-hitter), and the result was another division title.
Without further ado…
On the first day of Raysmas, the Tampa Bay Rays gave to us, ONE $5 million hitter…
When we put together the 2011 opening day roster projection, we saw a team with very good starting pitching and a bullpen that may not be as good as last year, but won’t lose a lot of games either. But more importantly, we saw a team that is going to lose a lot of 4-2 ballgames.
The offense is a big concern right now. Evan Longoria will be great. Supporting him will be BJ Upton and Ben Zobrist, both of whom should be good. But neither is the offensive threat that Carl Crawford was all the time or Carlos Pena was when he was hot.
What this team needs is a professional hitter. A veteran that will come prepared everyday to do his job. And he needs to play first base, outfield, DH or some combination of those positions. There are a number of veteran free agents available that can probably be had for around $5 million. And as we saw in the payroll projection, the Rays can afford a $5 million bat.
The two at the top of our wishlist are Jim Thome and Johnny Damon (however there are certainly other names we would be happy with). The rest of the lineup is flexible enough that either player can be worked in at DH and occasionally in the field. And both would be worth 2-3 wins over the course of a full season.
Add one of those players and the offense still isn’t great. But it would be significantly better. And we would sleep a little better at night.