Forget about BJ Upton's sophomoric, whiny comments for just a moment. Forget that he's probably a distraction in the clubhouse with his sunken shoulder's and sullen face whenever he comes up to bat. Lets pretend he isn't 3 for 27 since being pulled out of the lead-off spot and lets act like we didn't see him get three strike outs in one game.
Lets just forget about BJ Upton.
I have an extremely hard time giving up on a talented kid like him. He's arguably the best defensive center fielder in the league and we've seen flashes of brilliance during his rookie campaign as well as the Rays World Series run last season. His upside is limitless, but I honestly believe that part of the Rays' slump is due to his attitude on and off of the field.
I know the starting pitching has been awful, the bats are inconsistent, and Maddon keeps making horrible decisions such as putting Willy at 2nd base (seriously, Willy...pick up your cement-block feet!), but it was long overdue for a change in the line-up.
I'd like to ask BJ a question: Why isn't it a "kick in the face" that Pena got moved from clean-up to 6th? Pena's taking his demotion with class and has been hitting the ball much better since the move. Why wasn't it a "kick in the face" that Bartlett was batting 9th, batting much better than you, yet never said a peep?
This team lacks the sand and leadership to get into the post-season. A guy like Cliff Floyd is definitely missed. Someone to straighten this young team out. Crawford, who, to me, is this season's MVP, is too quiet to be a strong voice in the clubhouse. Burrell's a veteran, but this isn't his team and he doesn't get a say because he's the new guy and he's playing poorly himself.
Playoff teams don't lose series. They don't lose to teams they should beat. Playoff teams are consistent and find ways to win. This team finds ways to lose.
This squad is full of quiet leaders. Leaders who go by the mantra that actions speak louder than words. Sometimes that just isn't enough.
Like I said, I hate to give up on Upton. I know, and every true Tampa fan knows about the "Tampa Curse." It's happened to us ad naseum. Upton will get traded or released and become a superstar elsewhere. If you know what I'm talking about, you know the list is long.
That shouldn't be enough to keep a sulker on the team. Sometimes it's just better to get a fresh start elsewhere.
I'm not saying that all of the Rays woe's are due to Upton, but he is just another unwarranted diversion.
For a team full of guys that want their play to do the talking, BJ sure lets his body language show his delicate side. Hopefully he, and the rest of this talented squad, can make a run and prove this blogger wrong.