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.

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11 Comments

  1. Gary says:

    Thome would be a great choice to DH vs RHPs,and he would be a terrific influence in the clubhouse!!

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  2. stunna says:

    Sweet, I love reading the 12 Days of Raysmas.

    JIM THOME please! I don't care that he can only play DH; he is the bat we need, and he was my favorite player back in the 90's. I'd be happy with Damon though too.

    This is a big year for Matt Joyce. If he can step it up, it will be HUGE (not only for 2011, but for several years going forward). We need to know if he will be a capable everyday player. I still have a good feeling about him.

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  3. a.j. says:

    Thome is a class act! He provides more pop than Damon, but Damon provides us with a DH everyday, given his .282 career avg. vs lefties. I'd be fine with either one!
    A name I mentioned yesterday that could possibly be had via trade is Billy Butler from KC. He's only gonna be 25 yrs old, and has put up outstanding numbers. He is primarily a DH but can play first probably around 60 games without killing the team. If we were to offer Shields, Torres, and another decent prospect, it could possibly work. Butler's headed to arbitration for the first time, so he won't even cost $5 mil...anybody like this idea?

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  4. matt says:

    looks like some people wont be getting what they wanted

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  5. MJ says:

    "what this team needs is a professional hitter"... Deja vu.

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  6. Scot says:

    Thome had a great year last year. If Pena signed for $10 million, Thome is worth $15 million. Over the past 3 years (not just last year), Thome was worth about 9 Wins above a replacement player (WARP) while Pena was worth about 7.5 WARP. This figure includes fielding, which explains why Damon was worth 10.8 WARP. The problem I see with Damon is that now that his fielding is below average (not to Jeterian levels yet), his bat isn't that impressive. Per plate appearance, Longo, Crawford, Upton, Jason, Joyce, Dan Johnson and nearly Pena had better seasons last year.

    If they got Thome, great - but the batter they need is already there in Matt Joyce.

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    • phil says:

      and a rebound year from Ben zobrist..if you take the average of his last 2 years it would be around .270 19 hrs !

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      • Sarah says:

        Rebound to what? His one year of great hitting, or the other 4 years of around .220?

        Ben seems like a great guy but I can't figure out why so many are convinced that his 2009 was his norm, and every other year some kind of aberration.

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  7. Don says:

    As we sit here after Xmas 2010....
    Heres how the Rays sit...Good pitching, suspect bullpen and a bunch of inexperienced, $400,000 hitters (exp. Longo/Zobrist)
    SO, if Jaso, Joyce, Rodq. DJ, Jennings...on and on..
    can hit .300 and 20 hrs 80 Rbi ....for at least two/three of them...the Rays will be ok.....IF they don't/can't the Rays fight it out for 3rd place with Toronto/Baltimore...and even possible that they don't beat either one of them.... (exp. better pitching....)
    So come on "kids"....2011 is your chance to step up and be a ML baseball player...right now.... their not!

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    • matt says:

      thats true. A lot of these kids are getting their shots (elliot johnson, justin ruggiano) and they prob. will hit like .250 and im sure this is how the season will go if the lineup can't hit

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