The 2008 25-man roster prediction is based only players currently within the organization and will be updated when trades are consummated and free agents are signed.
Last week we updated our Rays Trade Value Index, in which we ranked every player on the 40-man roster and the top prospects in the organization. Earlier this week we laid out our predictions for the Rays 2008 40-man roster and opening day payroll. The next logical step is to predict what the 25-man roster and starting lineup/rotation will look like on March 31, 2008 when the Rays open the 2008 season in Baltimore.
- Evan Longoria should the opening day third baseman. Everybody says that the Dirtbag is ready.
- Akinori Iwamura is likely to the starting second baseman whether or not Evan Longoria is on the opening day roster. Even if Longoria is not on the roster, the team will want him manning the hot corner at some point in 2008, so it makes more sense to give the position temporarily to Brendan Harris, rather than move Aki in the middle of the season.
- Brendan Harris will be on the roster. If the team fails to land a shortstop through trade, Harris will keep the shortstop position warm until Reid Brignac is ready. If Evan Longoria starts the season at Durham, Harris could be at third with Ben Zobrist as the starting shortstop.
- DESIGNATED HITTER
- Rocco Baldelli and Jonny Gomes will split time at DH and both will see time in the outfield, unless one is traded in the offseason.
- With the Rays deciding to let Greg Norton go, the Rays will need some left handed pop off the bench and that means Chris Snelling will be the outfielder off the bench and Justin Ruggiano will be a victim of numbers and needs. If the Rays have Ben Zobrist on the bench or can find another left handed bat, Ruggiano will push Snelling for a roster spot in spring training.
- Ben Zobrist gets the edge over Josh Wilson for the utility infielder.
- The team will likely sign a veteran free agent catcher and Shawn Riggans will be back at Durham.
- Top three spots are locked.
- Andy Sonnanstine would have to have a terrible spring and sleep with Joe Maddon’s girlfriend in order to lose his spot.
- The fifth spot is wide open. The team will look to fill this spot through a cheap free agent (not likely), a trade (maybe) but would prefer to see either Jeff Niemann or Mitch Talbot step-up in Spring Training and take the job.
- Al Reyes will be the closer, but look for the Rays to dole out save opportunities to others. Unless he throws out his arm (again) Reyes will be traded prior to the July 31 trade deadline.
- Juan Salas and Dan Wheeler look like the only other two guarantees in the bullpen. Salas will probably see regular save opportunities in 2008.
- The rest of the bullpen is a wide-open race and most likely two or even three of these spots will go to players not currently in the organization. As it stands now, JK Ryu will likely fill the role of long-man. We are having second thoughts on Jon Switzer. It may be more likely that either he or Kurt Birkins will fill the role of lefty. That leaves one spot up for grabs. Calvin Medlock? Scott Dohmann (who we predicted earlier this week would be DFA’d)?