Lack Of Hitters Will Doom Tampa Bay Rays

Leslie MonteiroSenior Analyst IApril 7, 2011

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 03:  Designated hitter Manny Ramirez #24 of the Tampa Bay Rays bats against the Baltimore Orioles during the game at Tropicana Field on April 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

So much for the Tampa Bay Rays being a playoff team.

After watching them in this homestand, they are 0-5 for a reason. They feature no hitters that scare the other team. It's not surprising Jeremy Guthrie, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Jered Weaver and Dan Haren had their way with them.

These five games are not an aberration. This should be expected. After losing Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena this offseason, their lineup was not going to be better. This will be their downfall this season.

Go ahead and talk about how it's early, but it's not going to change the fact these hitters are not impact players.

The Rays hoped Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon would provide the offense, but that hasn't worked out so far.

Ramirez was benched in yesterday's ballgame and he won't be playing today against the White Sox at Chicago. One hit in 17 at-bats forced Joe Maddon to bench him and try someone else.

Maddon claimed he was giving his player a breather, but don't buy into that claim. If Ramirez was hitting the ball well, he would be playing today's game.

Damon has become more of a blooper reel. He is 1-for-15, and his defense has been brutal. He had a calf injury the other day, so that won't help matters.

The Rays knew what they were getting in Ramirez and Damon, who played like they were washed up last year by not putting good numbers at the plate. To expect them to bounce back in their late 30s was crazy.

For what those two accomplished in the majors, they deserve a chance to get it together. If they don't by the end of May, the Rays should release both of them.

If Desmond Jennings showed he is ready to play in the majors now, Damon wouldn't have been signed. The Rays prospect should start playing by June, so that way he can learn on the job and get it over with. It makes sense to play him with this likely being a lost year for the organization.

The Rays are relying on Reid Brignac, Sean Rodriguez, Dan Johnson, Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist to make an impact as everyday players. That's too much to ask. Most of their players are nothing more than utility players at best.

Since those guys had limited at-bats last year, it was easy for them to produce. Their increased playing time will increase their deficiencies, and it is showing now. They are not hitting past the infielders, and they tend to ground out or strike out.

Brignac and Rodriguez may be better than they are portrayed, but it doesn't seem like it.

This organization has not done much to develop hitters or draft hitters. They are paying for it now with what is going on.

Last year, they struggled to hit as it is with these guys. How are they going to get better? They had enough at-bats to prove themselves, and it hasn't panned out.

The Rays hoped their starting pitching would help them win these 2-1 or 3-2 games. It hasn't happened. The starters have done a good job with nothing to show for it.

It's ridiculous to expect starters to win games by themselves. It never happens. Pitching and defense wins championships, but that becomes meaningless if the team can't hit.

The Twins pitched well in 2005, but they lost games because they couldn't hit. They had an excuse, with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau learning on the job as major league players.

The Rays don't have that type of player right now. Brignac and Rodriguez are relatively new at their jobs, but those two will not be confused with Mauer and Morneau.

At some point, this is going to wear down the starters. It's not fair to expect them to pitch perfect. It won't be long until the pitchers start calling the hitters out. It's human nature to be frustrated.

There are going to be people blaming Rays hitting coach Derek Shelton for this problem, but he is only as good as hitters make him it out to be. People can talk about Maddon tinkering with the lineup, but that's what happens when he has nothing to work with.

Everyone thought the bullpen would be the problem. That hasn't been the case. If anything, the relievers have done a good job.

It's the hitting that is hurting the team.. It's hard to think it's going to get better. Facing the AL East teams, the hitters will be exposed and that means more losses on the horizon.

It was easy to see why people pick the Rays to win 84 games when the season started. They thought the hitting would be decent. It turned out they overestimated the hitters.

The lack of hitting not only will not make the Rays a playoff team, but it will mean 84 losses.

They are on pace to do just that after watching the first five games at the Trop.

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