The 2008 25-man roster prediction is based only on players currently within the organization and will be updated when trades are consummated and free agents are signed.
We are now less than a week away from Spring Training and after a couple of more free agent signings, we now have a much better idea of what the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays roster will look like.
[Ed. note: The Rays depth chart on the official website was updated today and lists Evan Longoria as the starting third baseman. This is likely one person's "best guess" as the team has yet to make an official announcement. However, it could be precluding a Monday announcement. We will have to wait and see. Everything else on the depth chart jives with what we have here, except they list Shawn Riggans as the backup catcher.]
Notes on the projection can be found after the roster…
- Lineup: Now that Willy Aybar’s legal issues are behind him, it looks once agains as if he is either the starter or in a platoon with Joel Guzman at third base. However, we do give Eric Hinske an outside shot at winning the job in spring training. Again, none of this should have a bearing on what the team decides to do with Evan Longoria, as the team will do what they think is best for Longoria and not what is best for the opening day lineup. However, all signs indicate a start to the year in Durham.
- Bench: Jonny Gomes is the only lock and he really isn’t part of the bench. He will be in the lineup most days in right or at DH. The rest of the bench is undecided, but Josh Paul and Ben Zobrist are pretty close to locks. Zobrist is really the Rays only available backup middle infielder and Paul is familiar with the staff. Guzman on the other hand could be the starting third baseman, part of a platoon, on the bench, or off the team. He is he big question mark.
- Rotation: Not much has changed. Top 3 are locked in. Andy Sonnanstine is pretty close. That leaves four pitchers (Edwin Jackson, Jason Hammel, Jeff Niemann and JP Howell) for one spot. That is a nice predicament to have. If the season started today, we go with Jackson, but we are going to keep a close eye on Niemann. It is our feeling that the team wants Niemann to win this spot. He will be 25 and it is time to see what he can do.
- Bullpen: The signing of Trever Miller fills one of the last remaining open spots on the roster. Jim Hickey’s recent comments about Gary Glover gives five players guaranteed jobs. One of the last two relief spots will go to one of the “losers” of the starting rotation battle. That leaves one spot in the bullpen up for grabs. Juan Salas? Scott Dohmann? Grant Balfour? Your guess is as good as ours.