The most common phrase in professional sports (also the most overused phrase) that players and coaches use to describe a recent transaction is "it's a business." As a student of business, I can confidently confirm this brilliant diagnosis.
As a business, the Tampa Bay Rays must first outline their goal for the 2011 season. A successful season would entail making the playoffs, most likely as the American League wild card, and compete in the postseason. Check that off.
Next, they must begin basic preparation. This is primarily training employees and allowing managers to learn the strengths and weaknesses of their people, i.e. Spring Training. Check that off, too.
Finally, the club has to analyze its environment for the 2011 season. The most common tool to assess a given business at any time is with a Five Forces Analysis.
The Five Forces are: supplier power, buyer power, substitutes, rivalry, and competition, but for the sake of relevance, buyer power and substitutes have been omitted. Ticket sales and the NFL and NBA don't seem to have much say in the success of the 2011 Rays.
If baseball teams truly are businesses, grading and understanding the Three Forces will lead to accomplishing the 2011 Rays' playoff goal.