We are a few weeks, two intra-squad games and eleven official games into Spring Training. Now is a good time to take a look at our 2007 25-man roster projections. Over the course of the next month we will update these projections once or twice a week.
- The only real question among the fourteen non-pitcher roster slots, is who will fill the final two spots on the bench. One of those spots most likely belongs to B. J. Upton. One of those two spots must go to somebody that can play second base and short stop. The only perceived threat to Upton would be Brendan Harris. While his defense has been more consistent, his OBP is only .261 in 23 Spring at bats.
- Elijah Dukes appears to have a slight lead in the race to be the fourth outfielder. His stats have not been as prodigious as his 2006 Spring numbers but he has been consistent with five hits and three walks in 22 plate appearances. Dukes spot could potentially go to non-roster invitees Hee-Seop Choi or Carlos Pena, with Greg Norton shifting over and becoming the fourth outfielder. However, both of those players have struggled going a combined 3-28 so far this Spring.
- The rest of the lineup is only conjecture at this point as Joe Maddon is likely to utilize a number of different lineups with the bench players (minus Josh Paul) receiving considerable playing time.
- We refuse to consider Josh Paul’s position on the 25-man roster to be at risk. Shawn Riggans is the Rays feel-good story and he is having a solid, if unspectacular Spring, but we haven’t seen anything to indicate that he is seriously competing for a spot.
- The fifth spot in the rotation is very much up for grabs. Last week we had Jae-Kuk Ryu penciled in, and this week we give the nod to Brian Stokes who has been outstanding so far. In 6.2 Spring innings, he has yet to allow a run on four hits and only 1 walk. Still, all of the pitchers vying for the final spot are having solid Spring campaigns so far and this is likely to change on a day-to-day basis and could go down to the final week of Spring Training. Keep in mind that Edwin Jackson mus be on the roster or he would have to be offered through waivers. This could give Jackson an edge for this spot to begin the season.
- Last week we had Seth McClung’s role as closer listed as “secure”. This week we are not even sure he is guaranteed a spot on the roster. We have the final two spots in the pen going to Al Reyes (who is almost in the “secure” position) and Chad Orvella, due to his strong Spring performance. If anybody falters, Juan Salas could be the first one to jump up into the picture.