In a couple of weeks we will be neck-deep in free agency and trade season. So let’s take a very premature look at what the 2011 Tampa Bay Rays roster will look like. Keep in mind that this is only based on players currently in the organization…

A few notes on the 25-man roster projection

  • MADDONOLOGY 101: We hate Joe Maddon for this, but for the first time in six years, we are projecting two starting lineups. It only makes sense with Maddon’s platoon mentality. As a result, we are projecting platoons at catcher, second base, right field and designated hitter.
  • LINEUP: C, LF and CF appear to be the only locks. Reid Brignac is a lock assuming the Rays trade or decline arbitration for Jason Bartlett. Ben Zobrist is a lock, but where? Matt Joyce and Justin Ruggiano (out of options) seem like a natural platoon in RF. Same for Dan Johnson and Willy Aybar at DH. 1B and 2B seem like the biggest wild cards. Will the Rays think Leslie Anderson is ready? He didn’t get a September call-up, so he likely needs a little more seasoning.
  • BENCH: What bench? Under this projection all four bench players will be starting at some point. Would that surprise anybody? Justin Ruggiano and Elliot Johnson are out of minor league options and fit well with a couple of the Rays needs. So at this point, they are both in. But if players are added from outside the organization, these could be the first players out of the projection.
  • ROTATION: We still think it is more likely that the Rays return all 6 of their starting pitchers. That means Jeremy Hellickson could start the season back at triple-A. This wouldn’t be the first time (e.g. Evan Longoria, David Price). None of the current 5 are cost-prohibitive yet. So why not see what happens for a few months, slow Hellboy’s service-time clock and wait until July to trade James Shields or Matt Garza when other teams are more desperate for starting pitching?
  • BULLPEN: This is where we expect the most turnover. Read THIS POST for our thoughts on what will happen with the bullpen.

The most likely spots for the Rays to add a bat from outside the organization are 1B and DH (Jim Thome?). Adding a DH could shift Dan Johnson into the 1B-platoon. Adding a 1B would move Ben Zobrist into the 2B-RF platoon(s).

 
 

22 Comments

  1. Chris D says:

    Elliott Johnson is a FA, isn’t he? If so, no real reason to think he’s back with the Rays when they haven’t given him a look thus far.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Right now I’m working under the assumption that Bartlett won’t be back. And if that is the case EJ fits the Rays’ needs perfectly. He is a middle infielder with a solid bat that can play multiple positions. I think the lure of a big league job will entice him to stay. Can’t imagine he will get a better offer elsewhere.

  2. Nathan says:

    What is this projected team’s payroll?

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I havent crunched the final numbers yet. I will probably post that tomorrow or Monday. But it should be about $45 million. So there is plenty of room to add a free agent or two if you believe the Rays want to be $50-60 million.

  3. Chris says:

    Well, this roster would have the virtue of being really cheap. As unimpressed as I am with Leslie Anderson, no reason to keep Aybar around with Anderson available. And (with the exception of Shoppach) an entirely Durham Bulls crew. We’ve got to like that from our (Bulls fans) point of view.

  4. Gus says:

    That looks like trouble.

    Stu has to spend some money.

  5. Beth says:

    To me, this pitching rotation and line-up spells a lot of 3-2 losses. (Although if they don’t sort out the bullpen, perhaps more like 8-2 losses)

    Well, at least 2011 will have the benefit of low expectations.

  6. Gary says:

    Either Shields or Garza will be traded at some point before the start of the season.That will open a spot in the rotation for Hellboy!! The trade of either Shields or Garza,along with Bartlett may either bring a bat to the big club, or prospects.I also believe McGee will be in the pen.

  7. Gus says:

    What does Benoit figure to get in 2011? He was good, but he wasn’t a closer, has a history of arm trouble and inconsistency, he’s no kid.

  8. stunna says:

    YES to Thome! He has always been one of my favorite players; I would be ecstatic if we brought him here.

  9. Rick says:

    i like Bartlett and hope he’s back for 2011.

  10. phil says:

    Get rid of Shields and Aybar and get a FA bat then do not sign wheeler qualls and Choate but Sign Benoit….

    • phil says:

      bullpen of Benoit (closer), Balfour (8th inning) , Howell (8th), Mcgee (7th), Eckstrom (7th) and Sonnanstine (long man) with a rotation of Price, Garza, Davis, Niemann and Hell boy! good staff! Reasonably priced!

  11. Gary says:

    Bartlett could get as much as 5 million in arbitration.I doubt he will be back.He will be traded. Brignac is ready to take over SS full time.

  12. Greg says:

    I understand you are projecting what Maddon and Co. will do, but no way will Elliot Johnson get most of the ABs at 2B over Rodriguez. Simply won’t happen. Rodriguez will be a solid if unspectacular player. Johnson has shown nothing at the Major League level to justify putting him as the platoon against RHP (which is most of the ABs). That position should be listed as either 1) Rodriguez all the time or 2) Zobrist at 2B against RHP with Dan Johnson at 1B and Willy at DH.

  13. Ryan says:

    I would love to see Thome sign up for a year….and then get rid of Aybar. Trade Bartlett and Shields for a bigger name bat and bring up Hellboy to start. Will likely see D. Johnson at 1B, Zobrist at 2B, Rodriguez at SS.

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