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How Much Does Manny Ramirez's Retirement Hurts The Rays?

The short answer: enough. The Rays entered into this season close enough in talent level to the Yankees and Red Sox that it was conceivable for them to compete in the AL East and possibly eek out one of those two titans for the AL Wild Card spot. But after this news…well, SB Nation’s Rob Neyer captures it all:

The club seemed to have capable replacements for Pena, Crawford and Garza. Rebuilding the bullpen wouldn’t be easy, but wasn’t like the organization had never rebuilt a bullpen before, or that manager Joe Maddon doesn’t know how to handle one. And this team did win 96 games just one year ago.

So there was hope. Or there should have been.

The margin for error was not large, though. Some things were sure to go wrong — some things always go wrong — but too many things couldn’t go wrong and more things would have to go right.

The Rays were projected before the season began as around an 88 win ballclub. Losing Manny knocks off about two of those wins, and the Rays’ poor start has them in the hole around three wins already. Toss in the fact that Longoria is out for another couple weeks, and the Rays are looking closer to a .500 ballclub than playoff contenders.

Anything can happen as the season goes along, but Manny’s retirement isn’t the only thing that’s gone wrong for the Rays so far this year. Competing in the AL East is tough even under the best of circumstances – this just only makes it tougher.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.