Yesterday we projected the 40-man roster and payroll. Now let’s take a look at what the opening day roster would look like if the season started today…

A few notes on the 25-man roster projection

  • 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 C, 1B, 2B and DH.
  • LINEUP: Andrew Friedman says Elliot Johnson, Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez will share middle infield duties. That leaves Ben Zobrist to play right field and possibly some first base. If Desmond Jennings is not on the opening day roster, look for Justin Ruggiano and Leslie Anderson to see playing time there. DH is wide open and could still be filled through free agency (Johnny Damon, Jim Thome?)
  • BENCH: We are giving Justin Ruggiano the edge over Leslie Anderson because Ruggy is out of minor league options and because Joe Maddon already has Dan Johnson and Matt Joyce as left-handed bats at 1B and OF.
  • ROTATION: If the Rays don’t trade Matt Garza, and Jeremy Hellickson is on the opening day roster, look for Jeff Niemann to be the odd man out. Yes, he was a solid starter in 2010, but with his injury history, the Rays may want to limit the mileage on his arm.
  • BULLPEN: If we include Jeff Niemann, six spots appear to be spoken for. Adam Russell is out of minor league options, so he is in. Cesar Cabral has to be on the opening day roster as a Rule 5 pick. And as a lefty, he can take JP Howell’s spot. What the bullpen really needs is a closer. The Rays won’t spend the money to bring back Rafael Soriano (right?). So why not Jeff Niemann?
  • OPEN SPOTS: Based on this projection, the Rays still need to add a first baseman and a relief pitcher. There are several minor leaguers that could fill the final bullpen spot, but look for the Rays to sign one more cheap middle reliever.


  1. Rytor says:

    What about Jake McGee? I think there’s a good chance we see him in the pen to start the year.

    • Andrew says:

      Agreed. He’ll most likely be part of the pen to start 2011. Could easily take Ekstrom’s spot or fill the void in the event of a trade.

    • MJ says:

      Yea i exepcted to see him in there. I hope SRod gets some chances against RHP this year, I think he deserves a shot. That bullpen looks ugly… only way you put Niemann in the pen is if you make him your closer.

    • Derek says:

      I would like to see him start the year in Durham, as a starter. Why ruin this guys career because our bullpen is short-handed?

      • Alex says:

        Ruin his career? He’s already had major surgery on his arm and he projects as a bullpen type guy anyway. McGee looks to be a younger Howell with a hell of a lot more power. It makes no sense for the Rays to just say sorry to Niemann and drop him out of the rotation. After two good years. Yeah that would make great sense.

        • Derek says:

          A younger Howell but with a power arm, so you mean nothing like him then… Mcgee is a solid starter with front of the rotation stuff. Howell is a failed starter. Mcgee is much better at striking guys out too. Strasburg just had TJS, does that mean he should be a closer now too? Mcgee was a better prospect than Davis, before he got hurt. If anyone is an injury risk it’s Niemann.

          • Mikey says:

            For the record, McGee was never rated as a better starter
            than Davis. Davis has much, much, better work ethic than McGee- and
            McGee is an avid smoker.

  2. a.j. says:

    This makes me want Derek Lee even more! We don’t have a full-time 1B and he’s a very good one! Then Dan Johnson can be the part-time guy. And why don’t we give a full-time job to Joyce…I think he’ll hit lefties just fine if we give him regular AB’s. His dad threw BP to him his whole life, and he’s a lefty…I got a feeling he can do it! He just needs a chance!

  3. Derek says:


  4. zenny says:

    A team that uses Justin Ruggiano as a regular DH is not a good hitting team, imo. Really need to add a bat.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      This is very true. We can talk all we want about how good the rotation is going to be, but they are going to lose a lot of 2-1 games with this offense. That being said, I still expect Friedman to pick up a DH, preferably one that plays an occasional first base. Somebody like a Thome.

    • MJ says:

      Ha agreed. If they think they have a shot at contending, they will pick up a bat for sure.

  5. ScMac says:

    This team has no protection for Longoria. There is not one player outside of Longo that scares any team. He is going to be pitched around all season.

  6. a.j. says:

    In their defense, longo didn’t have protection last year either…but we still need a bat. The short list needs to be Derek Lee, Johnny Damon, or Jim Thome. Lee gives us a full-time 1B and possibly the greatest upside for a big year. Damon is probably the surest thing to provide stability to our lineup…ex.- .285/.335/.460. Thome is a class act, will hit 20+ bombs, but will only probably hit .250. Personally, I’d try for Lee, given our need for a good 1B and a righty bat.

  7. phil says:

    how about Matt Joyce in right with Rogginno platooning; Zobrist at 1st with dan johnson backing him up; Damon DH and leslie anderson playing left until Desmond is ready

      • phil says:

        thanks Cork ….i like the idea of zobrist at first, joyce in right, jennings in left with damon or thome dhing. your bench would be Shoppach, elliot and Dan Johnson and Ruggino or Anderson.

        Now i am thinking if Nieman moves to the pen to be the closer you groom McGee at AAA to a be a starter and maybe you make Alex Torres a lefty reliever ….This would be dependent on how good Ramos or Cabral would be as lefty relievers so we could have as many as three leftys in the pen (Ramos, Howell and Cabral) along with Nieman, Russell and Peralta as well as Sonnanstine. A rotation of Price, Garza, Davis, shields and hell boy …with Alex Cobb, Torres and McGee at AAA…

  8. Don says:

    Look at it this way…if you don’t count pitchers, we have four (4) players (hitters) making over $1mil dollars….
    Two of them can’t out hit me…Shopp & Upton…
    So… just exactly….how many good $400,000 hitters do you know??
    2nd year guys…Brig, Jaso, Rodq., DJ, Joyce….IF they don’t hit we got NO runs…

  9. John says:

    I want Marcus Thames, damn it!

  10. Alex says:

    Anyone that thinks Ruggiano is going to not only make the team but make any sort of contribution is insane. The guy sucks. He’s a 4a player and nothing more. I realize we are used to watching guys hit .200 but theres no point in giving him playing time

  11. a.j. says:

    Alex, I totally agree with you on Ruggiano…he’s not a big league player. I used to think he had a chance but I’m over it now. And does nobody agree that Derek Lee would be a good fit? I think he’d be perfect for our lineup!

    • Sledge says:

      I worry about a career NL guy making the adjustment to AL pitching. Sometimes it works out – sometimes it doesn’t. I think I’d rather roll the dice with bringing Aybar back than spend big FA money on Lee.

  12. Gatorbuc15 says:

    Right now with the players they have this is a good projection, but this also shows just how much the Rays need to go out and find another freaking bat.

  13. a.j. says:

    Usually career NL guys that struggle transitioning to the AL are guys who move to DH. We wouldn’t be doing that. He’d be our everyday 1B. And to discuss McGee, he has had success as a starter, but this kid has the makeup it looks like to be a stud closer right now! If we make him back into a starter, maybe he develops into a helpful piece by 2012…because let’s face it, there’s no room in the rotation. We haven’t talked much about it, but maybe Friedman and Maddon have already talked about making McGee the closer right now! The Red Sox did it with Papelbon…maybe we do it with McGee!!!

  14. Beth says:

    Just now focused on your putting Niemann in the bullpen. What’s the logic there? Other than a few awful starts heading onto and off the DL in 2010, hasn’t Niemann earned a starting position over the past 2 years? Why would you convert a successful starter who can give you 7 innings into a reliever?

    • phil says:

      Beth – Interesting debate going on is who will close ,,,,,going forward Niemann or McGee?

      Whoever it is we need a dominant closer…

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Simply a numbers game. If Hellickson does start the year in the big leagues (as Maddon has suggested)…and if the Rays do keep all 6 starting pitchers (as Friedman has suggested)…either somebody goes back to the minors (Davis has options) or somebody goes to the bullpen.

      It would seem that the pitcher going to the bullpen would be either Niemann or Davis. If true, this is the tricky part. Which is the better starter and which is likely the better reliever. Personally i think Niemann is the answer to both questions.

      If that was all, I’d say keep Niemann in the rotation because starting pitchers are more valuable. But the other issue is durability. I’m not suggesting Niemannn will break down, but he is probably more likely to break down than Davis. In the past Niemann has shown that he needs more rest than the other starters, often performing at his best on extra rest.

      Also, this is a different issue if we are talking about just sending somebody to the pen to be a long reliever (not the most important position on the team). But if we are talking about a very important spot as the 8th or 9th inning guy, then I’d be more willing to move Niemann because i think he can thrive in that roll.

      • phil says:

        Cork – 100% convinced that Niemann or Davis should move to the closer role and McGee should be groomed to be a starter (start aaa in 2011 in the rotation for 2012 replacing Garza).

        A rotation of Price, Garza, Davis, Shields and Hellickson in 2011. McGee replaces Garza in 2012 Matt Moore replaces Shields in 2013)

        Niemann, Peralta, Russell, Ramos, Sonnanstine with Swindle, Eckstrom, Wade and Cabral competing for the next two spots. JP howell ready for June and Alex Torres could be called from AAA if needed.

        lineup assuming desmond starts the year at AAA

        Jaso – C
        Damon – dh
        Zobrist – 1st
        Longo – 3rd
        Joyce – Rf
        Upton – CF
        Anderson – LF
        rodriguez – 2nd
        Brignac – ss

        Bench: Shoppach, elliot and Dan Johnson and Ruggiano

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