Dr. Tommy's Checkup: What's Wrong With the Tampa Bay Rays?
Symptoms: The Rays are struggling with pitching and offense. Before they earned their second win of the season by blasting Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Red Sox 16-5, the Rays ranked dead last in the majors in runs (20), batting average (.163), on-base percentage (.232) and slugging percentage (.284). Their pitching isn't helping the cause, either. The team has a 4.73 ERA, which ranks 24th in the majors.
Diagnosis: The Rays started the season 1-8. They’ve scored only one run in six of their nine games and more than three runs just once. Needless to say, the Rays' offense has looked anemic thus far, especially with the brief loss of Evan Longoria.
The player that was supposed to be their biggest offensive addition of the offseason, Manny Ramirez, retired a week into the season. This team's lineup looks nothing like the one that ranked third in the American League in runs scored last season. Carlos Pena has been replaced by Dan Johnson. Carl Crawford has been replaced by Sam Fuld (who?). These are major downgrades.
Treatment: Simply put, the Rays need to score more runs. The rotation will come around -- David Price, James Shields and Jeff Niemann are far too talented to continue struggling like they have been. But most of the offensive players don't have a track record of success. And with their low budget, the Rays can't afford to make a costly mid-season addition through a trade.
Although the Rays are not as bad as they've been showing, they need to add some low budget offensive pieces if they want to compete this season. A healthy Longoria and more production from Johnny Damon would certainly help as well.