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. Many did not. If we can get a couple of more this year, the Rays might just win it all.

Without further ado…

On the eighth day of Raysmas, the Tampa Bay Rays gave to us, EIGHT POSITIONS WITH AT LEAST A LEAGUE-AVERAGE HITTER…

In major league baseball, most teams set a goal of being at least league average (offensively) at every position, with a few positions that are above-average*.

Here is a table we showed you guys shortly after the season ended…

There are four offensive positions that were well-below league average in 2011 (DH, 1B, C, SS). We have a pretty good idea who will catch (Jose Molina, Jose Lobaton, Robinson Chirinos) and who will play shortstop (Reid Brignac, Sean Rodriguez), but there is a chance that all four positions could still be upgraded this off-season.

We are starting to think the 2012 Rays have a chance to be the best Rays team yet. But we would feel a lot better if the Rays were at least average offensively. And we would feel even better if the Rays lineup didn’t look like a National League lineup (automatic outs at bottom of order that give opposing pitcher a chance to relax).

So that means the Rays have two months to show significant upgrades at at least three of these positions. And if that doesn’t happen, the incumbents better give us a better effort in 2012.

* Of course, the Yankees don’t count. Typically, they aren’t happy unless they have a future hall-of-famer at each position.

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13 Comments

  1. Joe says:

    Rays have never had such a deep rotation, at least not one that had this much talent, we have to go for this, that doesn't mean spend money we don't have much of. Spend a little, trade a pitcher and prospects

    Upgrade 1B to Rizzo, Trumbo or Morales (Trumbo has shown his pop, the other 2 I just have a good feeling about)
    Resign Damon for DH, yes he is shown as 1 of the 4 below average hitters but he contributed in the clutch, he can hit both hands and he is a clubhouse leader. That doesn't show up in the stats.
    Maybe try trade for a Conger type, it seems the Angels don't want to give him a chance and he has loads of potential. At the very least, he has better offense than Molina and Lobaton and probably Chirinos and while he's not always pin point accurate, his arm is stronger than Lobaton or Chirinos. He can also handle a lot of playing time so we don't have to count on Molina for like 100 games.
    This is nothing more than a hunch but just keep Sean at SS, this is his year to break out.

    I figure if we can acquire Rizzo or Trumbo and Conger, we will lose Davis, Archer and mid level spects. Perhaps less if it's Trumbo and we wait til ST when he proves he can't play 3B but that much waiting will make us all uneasy.

    This has nothing to do with the offense but since we are hardly spending at all and we were going after Beltran, we have money, please give a Rafael Soriano 1 year deal to Ryan Madson and move everyone down a slot.

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    • LoLJFH says:

      Absolutely agree with you here. I prefer Trumbo over the other 2 personally as he is proven commodity (Morales and that knee.....) AND has faced AL pitchers and knows what to expect. That first year going from NL to AL or vice versa can be a crapshoot to get acclimated.
      As far as Damon goes - one thing I think we forget was he was also on an island by himself for a while with noone around him, consistently, to hit/support him. I think HE got better for us when Jennings came up and got on base. But that pretty much goes for everyone however his last 6-7 weeks was much better when he, too, was protected in the lineup and Evan got hot(ter) as well. He is definitely what one would consider a "face" of a team and a needed leader if we continue to stay as young as we are.
      S-Rod needs the opportunity. He continues to impress in everything he has done. He had a down year at the plate but I think we all know where those numbers come from regarding approach, readiness, etc..... He is not Ozzie Smith, but could be a Jeff Blauser-type for many years. Dump Johnson and Brignac and bring in a veteran to serve as HIS backup (Renteria, Cabrera, Vizquel).

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  2. Joe says:

    I forgot to say that Day 9 should be give the 9th inning to Ryan Madson. Farnsworth and Peralta can both regress big time and while I love Gomes and McGee, those 2, especially Gomes, are not back end relievers, we need someone that we know will shut the door.

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  3. DaveL says:

    For those of you so eager to unload our centerfielder. Surprise surprise! Its a strength not a weakness. And that ranking does not even take into account defense. As this wish entry accurately describes, lets upgrade the areas that are weak rather than waste time attempting to upgrade strengths

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    • Sarah says:

      Although there are certainly those who have felt frustrated by Upton (who seems to flirt with greatness enough to leave us feeling he should be better than just good), most of the discussion about trading Upton, I think, is less about "unloading" him and more about capturing some decent value for him in a trade before his free agency year.

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    • Tom says:

      Interestingly, Upton's OPS was .761in 151 games in center, whoever played the other 11 games must have olyed really well. He was also 6th in the AL among CF with at least 251 PA's behind Ellbury, Granderson, Cabrera, Jones, and Bourjos.

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      • pete says:

        Yes but he was 4th among CF in WAR and 27th most valuable player in the American League according to that metric. Offense is only one part of the game but i'll take him in this contract year. I truly believe we see him hit 30 bombs and steal 50 bases this year.

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        • Tom says:

          According to Fangraphs he was also 6th in WAR for centerfielders, where did you see him listed as 4th?

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        • LoLJFH says:

          30, maybe, but a .230 average. Until he completely gets rid of that wiggle in his swing he will never hit consistently. That timing wiggle wreaks havoc on his swing. 50 steals?? Nope, not unless he learns to be smart on the basepaths and he has done NOTHING to assure he can do this. Plus, his sideways step with his feet planted when leading off base (DUMB! who taught him that marvel I wonder??) gets him picked off way too much because he leans too much. I would take a consistent .250 Upton with same defense we have come to expect, cut K's by 15-20%, 20HR and 80+RBI. I would think this is more Upton-like than the year he had 3 years or so ago. If not even close to this by ASG, trade him for SOMETHING.

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  4. Don says:

    Wouldn't you think other teams would be "breaking down the door" to get the "4th best" CF in the AL....guess what.. they're not, latest report only the last place nationals had any interest in Upton at all, other 30 teams are passing,like you keep him..
    Surprise,Surprise!

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  5. steve says:

    I agree that we need better production from the bottom of the lineup but the fact that SS and 1B were strengths defensively can't be overlooked. I know D from a 1b is not as important as some thump but I am okay with a couple spots being below average offensively if the D stays top notch for our top notch rotation.

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  6. RedBull says:

    I agree with a lot of what Joe said...mostly cuz I've been saying it for a while. But Morales has proven that he can hit even better than Trumbo in the past, so let's not forget that. I won't be mad if we get any of the 3 we've talked about though.

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