Rough start to 2011 season

Mike Kelly, Editor-in-Chief

After winning the 2010 division crown, the new-look 2011 Tampa Bay Rays are off to the worst start in franchise history. After three games against the Orioles, the Rays had a team batting average of .132 and a .445 OPS. And while the season has literally just begun, some wonder is it too soon to panic. I’d say no. They’re off to the worst start in Rays’ and even Devil Rays’ history but many teams throughout history have started out of the gate worse and ended up having highly successful seasons. Rather than look at the first series or two in baseball, fans should be more focused on the first month or two before having  doubts or worries. And like my father always said, it’s not how you start in baseball, it’s how you finish.

The Diamondbacks started 3-1 last season, and went on to lose 97 games. The White Sox, Red Sox, and Padres started 1-3 last season, and combined to finish 48 games over .500. Even the 1998 New York Yankees, the team some argue was the best of all time, started their season 0-3 and continued to win 114 games. The 2004 Red Sox, if you remember, started their ALCS 0-3 and went on to win the World Series.

And while we can look at teams of the past and compare records and numbers in hopes our teams destiny will evolve in the same successful fashion theirs did, the bottom line is every team and every situation is different. And this year’s Rays can’t rely on the hopes that things will turn around to have success this season. Moves will probably need to be made. The good news is, the only direction to go from here is up, right?

In the second game of the season, franchise superstar and third baseman Evan Longoria went down with a strained oblique, putting him on the 15-day DL. This was crucial as the Rays were counting on him to have a big season in order to have the same success they had last season. However, even though the Rays lost their best player, the lineup is filled with players who can step up; it’s simply a matter of them doing so or not. BJ Upton was expected to have good year after having a solid spring, and his production would help subside the losses of Jason Bartlett and Carlos Pena. And while he leads the team in every offensive statistical category, that’s not saying much as the team ranks dead last amongst the league in all categories.

Off season acquisition Manny Ramirez has 1 hit through 16 at bats in the four-spot. Some would call this a line-up or rally killer; however, nobody else has been hitting either so it doesn’t really matter. However, he was expected to bring pop and production as well as protection to Longoria. Don’t get your hopes up, though, Rays fans; Ramirez hit a total of zero home runs in the second half of 2010 and he’s showing no signs of turning that around. The old Devil-Ray trend of buying old washed up players to go on their victory tour around the league may be starting up again.