by Trevor Grout

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A lot of people have been putting blame on different players, coaches and front office staff for the Tampa Bay Rays lackluster season thus far. We all know Joe Maddon is the ultimate players coach, so much so that in the past this has actually been a hot destination for free agents. Joe has built this team into a winner when even the great Lou Pinella couldn’t, and we all remember Larry Rothschild and Hal McRae neither of whom managed a winning record while managing the team. In the past coaches and managers from other leagues and teams have been accused of “Losing” the locker room they were in charge of ultimately costing them their jobs in the process. Now if you ask anyone Joe Maddon has nothing at all to worry about regarding his job or standing with the front office for the Tampa Bay Rays. With this recent run of bad ball games which included as of writting thi a new team record of 31 scoreless innings one has to wonder if Joe’s job is in fact safe.

Fans will place blame for the Rays losing record on anyone and everyone in the front office or locker room including players, coaches and the general manager. Joe has come out and sai this is a team that could still make a playoff run, however that’s just Joe’s overly optimistic nature that he’s always been known for. For all intent and purpose for this season to turn around it would take the ultimate miracle.

This was supposed to be “The” season when this team with the highest payroll it’s ever had was supposed to finally bring a World Series title to Tampa Bay. As we all know by now that’s not exactly the way this season has played out so far. The Rays currently sit at 25-42 a record none of us saw coming with what the Rays did in the offseason by re-signing Loney and DeJesus and bringing back veteran reliever Grant Balfour. David Price was also brought back to bolster what should have been the league’s best starting rotation.

The season had barely began when news broke that Matt Moore was going under the knife for Tommy John surgery subsequently ending his season before it could begin. Not much longer after that happened Alex Cobb joined Matt Moore and fellow starter Jeremy Hellickson on the disabled list. This forced the Rays to use Jake Odorizzi, Erik Bedard and Cesar Ramos to fill the three voids in the starting rotation. The trips to the disabled list didn’t end there because on June 3rd struggling second year player and reigning Rookie of the Year Wil Myers was sent to the DL with a stress fracture in his right wrist, which happened following a collision with Desmond Jennings. Whether it has been the suspect pitching or the absolute lack of hitting I don’t honestly know if you can really point the finger at anyone regarding the sudden downfall of this ball club.

Derek Shelton has been the main recipient of the hitting woes blame and rightfully so he is after all the hitting coach. Now since Joe Maddon is such a player’s coach an overall nice guy it’s hard for him to become a disciplinarian and overall tough guy. To be honest if he did switch gears like that I don’t know if it would even work or if guys would even believe it. Andrew Friedman is the guy who puts all these pieces on the table for Joe Maddon to put that season’s puzzle together and I am not sure he’s even to blame.

Right now the team is not playing like the team we’ve become accustomed to over the last seven or eight years. We all knew eventually this team was going to come back to earth, however I am sure we were all hoping it would be a graceful fall. Not the crash and burn we watch night in an night out. Yes this was supposed to be “The” season and it still is “The” season but with everything going on and you can call it back luck if you want. This is “The” season that the team becomes human again and the rebuilding for the future begins yet again.


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