Commentary | After medicine man failed, Rays next move must be to trade Price

June 16, 2014 

Rangers Rays Baseball

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price talks to a teammate in the dugout during a baseball game against the Texas Rangers Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Price will miss his next scheduled start on Saturday due to shoulder soreness. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

CHRIS O'MEARA — AP

They summoned one of the world's greatest medicine men, and he couldn't exorcise the demons that have taken up residence in their bats.

They nearly drained the fountain dry from Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon, a finalist for the world's greatest optimist.

So what's next?

Punt and play defense for the rest of 2014.

Trade David Price and get some good bodies to restock the farm.

There doesn't appear to be another option.

We knew the medicine man was a stretch. They are more noted for removing evil spirits from the soul and returning a person to his whole self.

They don't create a new person, which is why the Seminole tribal elder Maddon summoned failed.

With the exception of Evan Longoria, the Rays position players are doing what can logically be expected of them.

Longoria has lost significant power in his bat, but the rest of the Rays are in the what you see is what you have mode.

In his fourth season, Desmond Jennings is looking like a career .250 hitter with little pop in his bat (37 homers in 3 years). James Loney would be considered a prize if he played middle infield or center because has a nice glove.

But you expect power out of a first baseman, and he is sitting on three homers after hitting 13 all of last season.

The jury is out of Wil Myers. He was going through a sophomore slump before he got hurt. Pitchers have adjusted to him, and now it's a matter of whether he can make the counter-adjustments.

Longoria's power outage is mystifying.

The 28-year-old has made a career of hitting inside pitches for power and average. Between 2011-13 he hit inside pitches (1/3 of the inside portion of the plate) for a .378 batting average and last year hit .398.

This year so far, he is batting .204 against inside pitches and hit only one inside pitch for a home run, according to FanGraphs.com.

It makes you wonder if there is a health problem, something wrong with his mechanics or his mental approach.

Maybe Maddon should have brought in Yogi Berra. He always had something to say about slumps. If nothing else it would make you think before you cramped up in laughter, and the Rays are already cramping up in the batter's box.

"I can't think and hit at the same time," Berra said. "So I'm ugly so what? I never saw anyone hit with his face."

Berra said he never blamed himself. He blamed his bats when hits weren't falling and often changed them.

The late Richie Ashburn, a Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Famer, said he slept with his bat when in a slump so they could get to know each other better.

It must've worked because he had a career .308 batting average.

The Rays are just playing ugly with no one to blame but themselves, though the team's pitching problems have put more pressure on the offense.

Entering this weekend, the Rays were the only team in Major League Baseball playing below .400 baseball and rank 25th out of 30 teams in runs scored and homers.

Dealing ace pitcher David Price could help fix the problem, though initially things will be painful.

But there is little choice. The medicine man tried everything and failed.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.

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