We only have 5 days left til opening day and the team is finally starting to click. Let’s take another look at our 2007 25-man roster projections. Who’s in? Who’s on the fence? And which little piggie is going to cry all the way to Durham?
The Rays announced their latest round of cuts today and we had our first kinda surprise. J. P. Howell, Scott Dohmann and Tim Corcoran were all sent down. Dohmann was outrighted and removed from the 40-man roster after clearing waivers. The surprise is Corcoran. He struggled this spring, but we figured he had done enough last season to earn Joe Maddon’s trust. Let’s take a look at how the roster is shaping up…
- Dioner Navarro is the starter if healthy and Josh Paul will be the backup. Yes, Shawn Riggans is hitting .343 and Paul is only hitting .182, but Riggans has only thrown out 1 of 11 potential base runners. Paul has nailed 2 of 5 and is a veteran presence for a young staff and starting catcher.
- B. J. Upton and Elijah Dukes are going to make the roster. Upton has had a few shaky moments in the field bu he has not been terrible. He has played 62.2 innings in the OF, 8 innings at short stop, 4 innings at third and 58 innings at 2B. He has 3 errors (2 at third, 1 at second). Dukes is hitting .343 this spring. The only real question here is: Which one will be in center field if Rocco Baldelli can’t play the field the first week or two?
- Jonny Gomes is going to be the most-days DH despite recent reports that his spot on the team was in jeopardy. However, he will lose a lot of ABs to Elijah Dukes, Jorge Cantu and B. J. Upton.
- Jorge Cantu is going to be the most-days second baseman, but Upton will see plenty of playing time here.
- We all knew that Wiggy was going to be in the lineup but we just weren’t sure where. Well, despite bringing in big names like Hee-Seop Choi and Carlos Pena (hitting .214 in spring) as well as rumors of Cantu, Gomes and Dukes moving to first, nobody stepped up and Wiggy will be at first most days
- Odd men out are Carlos Pena and Brendan Harris. It would not surprise us if one of these two made it, but for whom? Harris is only in if Upton or Dukes is out (if Dukes is out, Upton could be 4th outfielder). We can only see Pena making the roster if the Rays decide to cut ties with Greg Norton (hitting .216 this spring). Not out of the realm of possibilities.
- As we showed earlier this week, Edwin Jackson is the 5th starter with J. P. Howell being sent down.
- The final three spots in the pen look to still be wide open although the field is narrowing. We had Tim Corcoran in one of those spots last week. Now one question is: Who is the long reliever/spot starter? We give the edge to Brian Stokes, but Jae-Kuk Ryu is a legitimate possibility. One of those is in and the other will be out.
- In the final two spots we have Juan Salas (8 ip/2.25 ERA) and Chad Orvella (9.1 ip/0.96 ERA) who have both posted strong numbers this spring. The only other legitimate candidates we see here are Seth McClung and Gary Glover. We think the team would rather have McClung closing in Durham to work on things. Glover has been good this spring, but he is not on the 40-man roster.
So there it is. your 2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays. You can take it to the bank! And if the Rays decide to demote Jonny Gomes tomorrow? Well, we reserve the right to re-write this post.
(update: about 5 minutes after we put this post up Brian Stokes began his 1-inning stint against the Phillies and proceeded to surrender 5 runs before the 3rd out. We are taking out our e-eraser)