Earlier today we projected the 40-man roster and payroll. Now let’s take a look at the 25-man roster and lineup.
25-Man Roster Projection and Lineup (notes and explanations on the projection can be found following the roster)…
- Projection is based only on players currently in the organization. The projection will be updated when players are acquired via free agency or trades.
- Lineup: With Gabe Kapler now in the mix, it now appears set that Matt Joyce will begin the year in the minors unless he does something extraordinary in Spring Training. Right field will now be a platoon with Gabe Gross. However, Kapler could be in center field the first week if the Rays decide to keep BJ Upton out of the cold weather games. If Upton is on the DL, look for Fernando Perez to be added as a fourth outfielder to start the season.
- Batting Order: At this point we expect Joe Maddon to stick with his basic top of the order utilized in 2008. However, we do wonder if he will now toy with the idea of leading-off with BJ Upton. Maddon could then move either Evan Longoria or Pat Burrell up to the three-hole. The line-up could then look like:
- Saucy indeed! If Maddon does not alter the top of the order, 6-7-8 would be Burrell-Gross-Navarro. That would be Dusty Baker’s ultimate “clogging the basepaths” combination.
- Bench: Gabe Kapler will start against lefties in right field. Willy Aybar and Ben Zobrist figure to see plenty of playing time at various positions. Shawn Riggans seems safe, as he looked solid with the bat. But he needs to show marked improvement behind the plate. Base stealers were 24-25 against Diesel, and the one caught stealing was on a pitch out.
- Rotation: The only question remaining is whether David Price is deemed ready in spring training. We have already made a case for King David starting the year in triple-A. If he does, the last spot will go to Jason Hammel, Mitch Talbot or Jeff Niemann, with Niemann having the edge.
- Bullpen: With the signing of Lance Cormier the Rays now have 8 arms for 7 spots, and that is not counting Jeff Niemann. Percival will likely start the season on the DL, but that only delays an inevitable decision. Somebody needs to be moved. Niemann and Jason Hammel are out of minor league options, and one figures to be the long reliever. The other could start the season in the rotation or be traded. At this point, the Rays’ lefty-specialist appears that it will be one of the right-handers, Joe Nelson or Lance Cormier. Only the Rays.
- As a Rule 5 draft pick, Derek Rodriguez must be on the major league roster or be offered back to his original team. We don’t see a spot for Rodriguez, but we think the Rays will work out a deal to keep Rodriguez in the organization. It would likely cost the Rays a low-level minor leaguer or cash.