Dear B J ,

Steve Nesius / AP

Hey there B J,

Got to tell you dude, lately you have doing some everlasting damage to your professional credibility here with your present boss, the Rays. Now we have known each other since  you first got called up in September 2001, when you were 17 and a few of us hit a local nightspot after a Yankees/Rays game and danced, chatted and got to know each other. I hope I can write to you as someone who has seen you grow as a ballplayer and offer some advice on your current problems. So take what I am about to say as a buddy just speaking to another buddy from heading towards a dangerous place.

No, it is not like you are attempting to go out on a building ledge and we need to talk you down, but you are in a very critical stage in your professional life where anything said from you right now is taken as gospel.  Now to even speak out of turn until your Batting Average and your fan approval  begins to again go north would be a very critical detour in your career. Seriously dude, when all that garbage came down a few years ago  from the local Durham fishwrap about the “Three Amigos” (Delmon Young, Elijah Dukes and moi) while with the Bulls, I was the guy fighting with Rays fans to see the words did not come from the “true” BJ, but from an “off the record”  BBQ conversation.

You rebuilt those bridges within the organization and showed you were a team player and you rebuilt your image to be sturdy and capable of taking on almost anything. But I have to level with you guy, right now the glaring games with the Umpires and the jawing after called third strikes along with the half efforts at flailing at balls outside the zone are making you look like a shadow of your former self.

E-man, I got to tell you this honestly, for a while there it looked like you were finally crawling out of that deep hole and were again showing that you loved hitting in the lead-off spot, but something suddenly died within your swing. Something zapped that energy and that strong will to strike that small white ball around like a toy.

Why is it that you got so upset about going down in the order? Dude, Joe Maddon has stood by and deflected the daily pot shots at you for so long that maybe he finally decided you needed to show some spunk and intestinal fortitude, and the 7-spot was a chance to sort it all out and still play every day.

Instead we got an entitlement attitude and a sense of lost focus at the plate. Dude, I know you still got it in you. Going down in the order sucks, but you are still living the dream and patroling the center fields of the MLB. And this latest bruhaha about you being moody about going to number 9 spot, Well stop it. I have to go with Maddon on this one dude. You forgot who B J Upton was there for a bit. You forgot the guy who the the opposition  nervous and sweaty while on base.

But If you truly want to know something……. Jason Bartlett did not like or want that lower spot in the either, but he smacked that ball and produced the hits and  drove in those guys in scoring position when you forgot how to play the game for a bit. Through him focusing  all his negative emotions onto his hitting, he got the desired spot he wanted. But he also thought of the nine hole as a “second lead-off” guy. And maybe that is where your mental state should sir right now. You get on base, you got guys coming up right behind you who have your back……everytime.

Chris O’Meara / AP

Understanding that was a move made for the team, not to punish you. It gives you an honest chance to readjust and refocus yourself to become the fiesty outfielder the fans have gotten to know and love. The actions that need to be taken were simple. You just need to now just chill a bit and accept things at the plate. Let Maddon go ot there and argue the balls and strikes.

Right now the more you whine to the guys in blue, the wider the strikezone might get before the end of this season. Smile, walk away and surpise everyone. Right now you are hiding within the shadow of a emerging star. You have not snuffed out the limelight, but it is growing dimmer. By showing maturity at plate, and towards the umpire crews, you will gain back that simple strikezone. Right now, I do not believe the umpires consider you a model citzen of the kingdom of MLB.

Secondly, get over all the chatter and ramblings about C C . I understand he is your sidekick, or vice versa. You guys will always be friends no matter if he plays here for in China. Look at the way CC is handling it, like a professional. He knows baseball is a business and he is hitting and playing like a fiend right now. He knows that the team could re-load the farm system with a trade for him. He is not happy about it, but both of you have seen enough guys come and go from the Ray to know it is not in your hands.

Come on guy, you are better than this B S. you truly know you got the stuff, or you would not be getting the chatter about your  “Web Gem” plays in Centerfield. You are within a whisper of getting your name mentioned with some of the best right now, and you might ruin it by sulking at the plate. Dude, they do not consider guys for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award who whine and sink at the plate. They do not give that beautiful Rawling trophy to guys who hits under .250 and does not look like they are leaders. That award is more than a defensive award, it recognizes the best of the best.

So the decision is yours dude. You know what this team needs right now is another bat to spring out and take control. Pat “the Bat” is beginning to find a small groove. The team has made a trade to get more production, and you now have got to carry your outfield weight. I am not asking you to hit .600 the next two months, but I am asking you go get on base, make pitchers nervous and be the B J we all came to watch play the game.

I got your back no matter what. I know how far you have sunk, and I know it is a tough road. But you got the goods to beat it and go forward from here. So why not take tonight’s game as a “coming out. part 2” party and prove to some of the grumbling factions around the Rays Republic that you might be down, but you are not out.

Gail Burton / AP

Dude, just like the team, you are in a “must win” situation to garner  back the respect and the accolades you have sweated and labored for since that first call-up in 2001. It is time to take the Junior off your name is spirit and play like a man, take it like a man, and if defeated take your licks like a man. You know me, I will fight with words or fists to proclaim you are not a bum.

You have got to show these people the fire is still lit inside you. They think the flame is gone. It is time E-man. Time for you to show why we have been behind you for so long. It can be done with something as simple as a little more concentration and effort. So just think about what I am saying here. Think of what you are tossing to the side with those comments and outward anger. The number 9 slot is still in the lineup, you are not sitting on the bench watching Gabe Kapler or someone from the minor leagues play your spot.

Time to put childish things away like pity parties and temper tantrums and play like a professional again. You wanted this kind of attention and admiration since you were a young kid. Do not throw it all away on an attitude problem that will label you for the rest of your career. Tampa Bay has had this situation before, and his name was Jose Guillen.  Like you, he could play a fantastic outfield, could get the ball anywhere on the field. But he lacked plate discipline and focus. And that is the issue with you right now.

Not a lack of class, but of attitude and disbelief they would drop you down in the order. Remeber BJ, Guillen was here until his contract was up. After that he was free to go and became someone elses worry. I do not want to see you go down the same road. He was a great defender and could play the RF corner better than anyone who has ever put on a Rays jersey, but the drama with him on the team finally got to much. Young and Dukes are also gone because of their internal and external issues and frustrations surfacing at the wrong times.

Dude, all I am asking you to do it be that old BJ. The kid who could not wait to go to the ballpark and play baseball again. I am asking for that guy who used to grin when he got on base, smirk when he stole a base, and pump his fist when he scored a run.  want to see the guy who smiled before, during and after the game again. If not, then all I can say is I told you so.


I hope he listens to you Cliff! Good letter!


He needs someone to give him a pep talk. Hope it works!

Excellent letter. You gave him some tough love but you also spoke to him buddy to buddy. I wish you could actually sit him down and tell him all that!

Well done, that was some good advice to BJ. Let’s hope it gets him back on track!

Great post. Good points. Wish we could have him read your letter.

Well I guess he can either take it ot leave it.
But I truly think he likes it here and will sign a nice arbitration contract in the off season.
but if he slacks he has got to remember he is losing money.

Rays Renegade

I think it is beyond a pep talk sometimes.
He is his own worst enemy, like so many of us are when we either play a sport, or even write our blogs.
We can find fault in a paragraph others see as a good piece, or comment.
Sometimes a player can just get too deep into the process of trying to “fix themselves” that they end up deeper in the hole.

Rays Renegade

I still remember a time where I could of done that, but it is long gone now.
But we wave towards each other at times, and he always makes a point to sign if I bring something down.
I have been in the same spot, before, but a coach brought me back to the surface.
It felt like a drowning, but I was in the middle of a football field.
He will see this. Someone is printing it tonight and putting it in his box at the Trop tomorrow.
Hopefully by then, he will not need to read it.

Rays Renegade

That’s well said, I bet Upton got your message. This should be a wakeup call to handle it good and bring back the Rays. Hopefully this will turn out for the good.

Matthew Tang

As always thanks for that.
B J is just in that rut that we all can get into, but his is played out upon the game we all watch so closely.
Do I agree with some of his choices?
No, but it is not my life to live.
You have to have hard times to enjoy the good ones.
that is one of the reasons I think a few of the guys in 2008 might have overindulged becuase you might never get there again in your career.

Rays Renegade

I know there are tmes with each of our teams we want to ring a guy by his neck to wake him up, or bring him back to earth.
Since B J came up in 2001 at 17 for the first time, people forget he is only 25 years old.
Carl Crawford had troubles early on and then clicked like mad.
Hopefully it is a just a spurt of growing pains and will be back to normal soon. ( knock on wood).

Rays Renegade

I was sitting on Twitter last night in the #Rays room and all of a sudden it got dark and ugly towards B J.
I thought it went a bit far, but i could also understand and feel the same frustrations and vented hostility to go towards someone.
This team is built for the long haul. I hope that continues late into 2009, but if it does not, i hope it is not for lack of effort.

Rays Renegade

front page of MLB says hes on the block. id love to have him but would many teams make an offer after his struggles?

Well, RR, this is definitely a sticky situation. The rumor mill already has BJ gone after this season… and that’s a sad thing in my opinion. Hope your letter isn’t too late and that he “gets” it because now is a very important time for his career as you point out. Just goes to show that we fans (and the temperature of the baseball world) does matter and people do pay attention.

I’m sure BJ is frustrated with his own performance this season, and he’s probably angry at the organization for shopping him, and that’s where all this is coming from. But you’re right, it’s definitely being directed at the wrong place, and he really should try to focus his energy into finding his swing. I hope he does. It would be a shame if, like Jose Guillen, he ended up wasting all that God-given talent. Or, sigh, Delmon Young.-Erin

You mean the same media giant that had Scott Kazmir headed to the Angels and Roy Halladay to the Philiies all but sealed a few weeks ago.
I believe their credibility as much as the palm reader down the street from my house.
Sorry, it might be true, but I would rather someone on a blog break that news that a agency that has a NE-bias.

Rays Renegade

I always look at it from the aspect of what is best for the team. He is about to hit his first arbitration. Those guys usually do not get dealt, but there could be a first time.
Also, the media has no conscience anymore.
They have basically become drones to poublic opinion.
Watch, if he turns it up the rest of the season, they will not apologize for throwing him under the bus, but try to embrace him…….Sorry I am over the fakeness of the modern media.
Stand your ground amd make a committment. Waivering like a reed in the wind makes you, and your agency look like amateurs……and makes us look more like the “experts”.

Rays Renegade

You know I liked Jose Guillen, and I still proudly wear one of his 2001 game jerseys at least once a year. But he was not the clubhouse cheerleader and brought drama and problems to himself.
BJ seriously has to look beyond this “media” trade talk. The Rays have not shopped him, but they have taken inquiries about him.
And that is part of the game of baseball. He miught have been placed on waivers to see who might be interested as far as we all know.
As for Delmon, I have never liked how he has been a smaller image of his older brother ealry in his career. Dimitri has changed, but it took the realization that a boatload of bridges were still burning for him to understand the BS is caused for so long.
People forget we drafted him in the Expansion Draft, and immediately sent him to Cincy. That should tell you something about the Young boys.

Rays Renegade

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