[Update] This projection has been updated to reflect the re-signing of Gabe Kapler. We have to assume that he will now be platooning in right field, and that will most likely be with Matt Joyce. This move bumps Fernando Perez back to the minors.

25-Man Roster Projection and Lineup (notes and explanations on the projection can be found following the roster)…

Notes on the 25-man roster projection…

  • LINEUP: The questions here are catcher, second base and right field. And most of the answers are in-house. Dioner Navarro could be non-tendered if the Rays want to save a few bucks, but more likely he will be back as either the most-days catcher or part of a platoon. Ben Zobrist could start at both second (v lefties) and in right field (v righties). That would open the door for both Sean Rodriguez and Matt Joyce to get regular playing time (Rodriguez at 2B v LHP; Joyce in RF v RHP). The Rays may want both of those guys to be everyday players eventually, it just won’t be out of the gate in 2010. There are also slim chances of trades that would ship Carl Crawford, BJ Upton or Pat Burrell out of town.
  • BENCH: Willy Aybar is in. After that are three question marks. The Rays need a backup catcher and they could bring back Gregg Zaun, but only at a cheaper rate than his $2.0 million option. The other two spots depend on how the Rays want to handle 2B and RF. Sean Rodriguez and Matt Joyce could be part-time starters. That leaves one spot for a fourth outfielder. That could be Gabe Gross, Gabe Kapler or Fernando Perez. We give the edge to Perez because he is cheaper and gives the Rays speed off the bench, something they lacked in 2009. And if Joyce is on the team, Gross would be redundant.
  • ROTATION: The first four are set with James Shields, Matt Garza, David Price and Jeff Niemann. The final spot will almost certainly go to Wade Davis, unless the Rays pursue a veteran starting pitcher and want Big Dub to get a little more seasoning in triple-A.
  • BULLPEN: This is where the Rays are most likely to add from outside the organization, just don’t look for that to be a high-priced closer. We looked at who was in and out last week. JP Howell, Grant Balfour and Dan Wheeler are locks. We think Andy Sonnanstine is in. Lance Cormier may be also, but do the Rays need him and Sonny? Randy Choate will be the lefty-specialist over Brian Shouse unless the Rays can find a league-minimum alternative. Jeff Bennett provides something that is lacking outside of Balfour: a power fastball. At best, Bennett will compete for a job in spring training. The most likely scenario has the Rays adding two or three cheap relief pitchers via trade or free agency to come in and compete with Bennett, Cormier and Choate for the final bullpen spots.
  • WHO’S OUT: Joe Nelson, Michel Hernandez and Joe Dillon have already been declared free agents. Dillon and Hernandez could be back on minor league deals. Troy Percival, Chad Bradford, Gabe Kapler and Jason Isringhausen will be free agents, and only Kapler has an outside shot at being back. The Rays are likely to decline the options on Aki Iwamura, Brian Shouse and Gregg Zaun, although they could bring Zaun back at a cheaper rate. Gabe Gross is arbitration-eligible and could be back, but we suspect he will be non-tendered, unless Joyce is not ready to make the jump.
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13 Comments

  1. Kevin says:

    What numbers suggest Bartlett's 2009 wasn't a fluke? Even with strong peripherals to back up his slash line, it's so much different from... his entire career.

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    • So was Zobrist's, was his a fluke? Sometimes players make adjustments that work.

      Bartlett's linedrive rate was 26%, which was way up from his career norm. Add 12% and that would translate to a BABIP if .380. His actual BABIP was .368 suggesting he might have actually been a little unlucky this year, although there is certainly a margin of error. Either way, he probably wasn't lucky.

      Also, his groundballs rate was way down (35%) while his flyball rate (39%) was only up slightly. So the extra linedrives weren't random. He stopped hitting the ball on the ground so much, something that the Twins organization teaches all their fast guys. His ISO was up considerably, suggesting that the home runs weren't fluky (although that is a bit of a circular argument I will admit).

      All this tells me that Bartlett has been reinvented as a hitter that can drive the ball as opposed to the player that tried to hit everything on the ground. Is he ever going to hit .350? Probably not, but for the next 2-3 years he should be a .300-.330 hitter with a little pop.

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      • Kevin says:

        Zobrist's was certainly a fluke, he won't hit .300/.400/.550 again. He'll still be good, but I think more along the .290/.385/.500 lines. Plus Zobrist showed some signs of his breakout in 2008, whereas Bartlett was completely out of nowhere. I think Bartlett will be back around(even slightly under) a 100 OPS+ in 2010.

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        • John S says:

          so you dont think a player is capable of getting better? then why do teams have batting coaches and things like practice and spring training and strength training? I dont remember which site it was on (not this one and not DRB), but somebody had broken down Zorilla's swing and it showed very clearly why he was able to hit more home runs. That combined with the excellent command of the strikezone he has shown his entire career suggests that this season was anything but a fluke.

          Pujols was a .920 OPS hitter in the minors. that would translate to about .850 in the bigs and yet he now has 7 seasons with an OPS greater than 1.000. when is he going to regress back to his norm?

          How about Milton Bradley? in his age 26-28 seasons, his OPS+ was 108,118,114. Then he posted an OPS+ of 153. Fluke? apparently not. The next year he had an OPS+ of 163.

          And Andruw Jones. before turning 30 he had 8 seasons with an OPS+ of at least 110. and then went 88/34 at age 30 and 31.

          Sometimes it is a fluke. But sometimes players do change and either get better or get worse and sometimes that change is very sudden and dramatic. Can you explain why you think Bartlett's season was a fluke other than just because you think it was?

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        • I dont think he is the .350 hitter he was most of the season, so yes I see a bit of a regression, but a 115-120 OPS+ next year is not out of the question based on what I observed and what the peripheral numbers suggest.

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  2. Justin H says:

    Raul Ibanez

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  3. Justin H says:

    What about Raul Ibanez that was out of nowhere too, things like this do happen

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  4. Mike G. says:

    Should we be worried about young prospects like Joyce, Rodriguez and Perez having their development slowed because they are playing part-time or wasting away on the bench?

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    • Well, first of all, nobody wastes away on Joe Maddon's bench unless your name is Joe Dillon. There is always plenty of playing time to go around. But yes, there is a concern about Joyce not seeing any lefties all year. I suspect Maddon will work him in when Zobrist is playing another position or needs a day off. It won't be a lot of plate appearances, but he should see some lefties. As for Rodriguez, I am not convinced the Rays see him as an everyday player down the road. But like Joyce, I'm sure JoeMa will work him in against righties

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    • Beth says:

      Joyce is 25, and Perez is 26. At what point are you no longer a "young prospect?"

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      • good point. but i guess in the case of Perez, he is a bit of a late-developer because he wasn't much of a prospect until the end of college and only then did he become a switch-hitter, something he is still learning. but yeah, we are getting to the point of put-up or shut-up.

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