Blind Squirrels Making Orange Juice

Caleb CombsContributor IMay 29, 2009

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 3: Designated hitter Pat Burrell #5 of the Tampa Bay Rays loses his batting helmet after he is hit in the ribs  against the Boston Red Sox May 3, 2009 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Rays, 2008 American League Champions

Welcome to 2009, where the Rays are once again….nobodies.

Yes, that’s right this once promising team has the look of the ’07 Rockies the year after they won the NLCS and advanced to the World Series where they were crushed by the Boston Red Sox.

So, how did this team just collapse over one offseason with all of the intelligent front office and coaching in the clubhouse? Quite simple really, it was never there (the intelligence that is).

That’s right; the Rays front office really isn’t as sparkly as it looks on the outside to fans across the country. Looking at the 2008 season and the offseason that preceded it, risky moves were abounding, yet they magically worked for the Rays. They worked so well, they finished with a winning record for the first time in franchise history and made it all the way to the World Series.

Well what happened?

Ever heard the phrase “every once in a while, a blind squirrel finds an acorn”? Say hello to the Rays front office. Not one move made in the 2009 offseason worked has worked for the Rays. Constantly though, they put these “great” free agent acquisitions out in front of the public such as the sure handed relievers in Brian Shouse and Joe Nelson only to have these players embarrass themselves and an organization that prodded around this offseason announcing to local sports fans in the Bay area that people needed to support this winning team.

Yet, while we discuss the free agency blunders, I simply cannot leave out the trading of right-handed flame thrower, Edwin Jackson.

Jackson, coming off his best season as a pitcher since being converted from an outfielder in the Dodgers organization, was traded for left-handed outfielder Matt Joyce. While a right fielder was needed, the free agent market had plenty and the Rays had a few options within the organization including switch hitter and to this point, bench player, Ben Zobrist. Zobrist, who always lacked an eye at the plate and any power, came back for the last third of the ’08 season and mashed the ball, while continuing and improving that here in the ’09 season.

So, how has Jackson done this season?

Oh, just a 4-3 record (albeit because of his offense, he has 3 losses) a 2.58 ERA and a 3:1 K/BB ratio.

And yet, the Rays proceed to keep Matt Joyce in AAA as the Rays offense continues to strikeout when a big moment comes along, or cannot get production out of whomever is playing in right field that day(unless of course it’s Ben Zobrist). Yes, this is the part where we stare blankly at our TV screens as Gabe Kapler(or Krapler as I prefer) constantly strikes out against LHP even though he is a LHP specialist at the plate, while Matt Joyce continues to rake both right-handed and left-handed pitchers.

All of this into account, I haven’t even discussed Pat Burrell. However, that is due to the growing factor that he may have possibly been dealing with an injury. Although that is not to say that the Rays still aren’t on the hook for what looks like to be baseball’s own Bernard Madoff.

At this point, it’s like baseball has handed the Rays lemons and they have made orange juice. That makes no sense, right? Well neither did the Rays offseason.-