If you have been hanging around these parts for a while, you know that the model for this site is to tell you what the Rays have done, what they are doing and try to project what they will do based on what we have learned. Think of RI as “Tampa Bay Rays 101.”

However, for the next 12 days we will step away from the standard, and we present to you 12 “presents” the Tampa Bay Rays should give to their fans. Looking back at last year’s 12 Days of Raysmas, we see that many of our wishes came true (including that sweet no-hitter), and the result was another division title.

Without further ado…

On the fifth day of Raysmas, the Tampa Bay Rays gave to us, FIVE position players with 110 games started…

For all of Joe Maddon’s tinkering and platooning and shifting and wine drinking madness, the Rays still had six players that made at least 110 starts last season (Carlos Pena, Jason Bartlett, Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, BJ Upton, Ben Zobrist). So coming up with five players in 2011 should be cake, right?

Not so fast.

Three of those players are gone (Crawford, Pena, Bartlett), and none of them have a clear everyday replacements at this point.

Here is our starting lineup projection from last week…

Assuming they stay healthy, Longoria, Upton and Zobrist should be locks for 110 starts. But where are the Rays going to find any lineup consistency beyond that?

Reid Brignac is in a threesome platoon at shortstop and second base, and could come close. And if the Rays sign a player like Johnny Damon or Jim Thome, that would be another likely candidate, although either one would almost certainly be part of a semi-platoon situation in the field and at DH.

In other words, the Rays are facing a lot of uncertainty in the lineup heading into 2011. And as much as JoeMa’s actions seem to suggest otherwise, he has said in the past that he prefers an everyday lineup.

It is hard to imagine the Rays lineup could be more volatile than the 2010 version. But at this point that appears to be where they are headed.

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26 Comments

  1. SeanDubbs says:

    How about Steve Pearce of the Pirates to fill that empty slot at First Base against lefties? He's blocked by Overbay and Alvarez, can play right field, will probably be cheap to acquire, and has a career .959 Slugging Percentage vs lefties.

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  2. MJ says:

    Any chance SRod gets consistent pt against RHP?

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  3. Justin says:

    How come Matt Joyce is only being considered as a DH
    against righties? Didn't Joe say he was going to be and everyday
    player?

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      It really just depends on what JoeMa does with Jennings and Zobrist. Friedman made it sound like Zorilla's days in the middle infield are over.

      But, yes. Joyce will play a lot in the OF, just unclear how much.

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  4. Alex says:

    Elliot Johnson will stay on the team a whole month before his .200 batting average nets him a lengthy DL stint or trip through waivers

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  5. Don says:

    You know..what ever happened to spring training plus past performance being an indication of who were the BEST players at certain positions????
    Maddon wouldn't dare move Longo, CC, Upton even Pena ..
    last year...WHY? at least to him.. these were the best players..at those positions....
    Doesn't the same logic apply to the other positions???
    It shouldn't be that hard!...If you need help Joe, I'll tell you who the "best players" are.... I watch them!

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  6. a.j. says:

    Things I'd like to see this season to make 110 starts possible...
    1. Matt Joyce given an everyday corner OF spot...he'll hit lefties if given the opportunity. If he hits a combined .270 with 23 HR and 90 RBI, he's exceeded any expectations anyone has for him.
    2. Sean Rodriguez given the everyday 2B job...did quite well when given regular AB's last year
    3. Reid Brignac at SS...if you're gonna give him the job, then commit to him everyday! Use Elliot Johnson as an actual reserve middle infielder!
    4. Jaso is our catcher...Shoppach only should catch twice a week at the most.
    5. Finally, after Upton continues to be a mediocre hitter at best, we trade him in mid-May and hand the CF job over to Jennings! Jennings will start the year in Durham.
    Anybody think these are ridiculous?

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    • Sarah says:

      I agree with you on 1 - 4. That is, I'd like to see these guys get to play every day, and then if they prove themselves completely incapable of hitting lefties (or righties) you can look to platoon.

      I'm not convinced that Jennings is ever going to be any more of a hitter than BJ, and he probably lacks BJ's power. So no to 5.

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    • Derek says:

      I agree with on Joyce, although the BA might be lower. Sean-rod could be an all-star/gold glove second baseman. Brignac sucks... Solid defense, but he needs to learn how to hit. Shoppach should start against lefties, because well, he hits them... Another undeserved attack of Upton. Id say him and Joyce will put up similar numbers. Upton with more walks and stolen bases. Id check Upton's stats from last year if I were you. They really werent all that bad. Jennings has no use for AAA, he also shouldnt be judged off of 20 at bats from 2010. ( Don, Sarah, and every Ray's fan that thinks he isnt going to be the super-star Crawford was). Crawford wasnt hitting Home-runs at Jenning's age either.

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    • phil says:

      None of those ideas are ridiculous. The guys you mentioned have to play everyday! Joyce in right field and Zobrist at first!

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  7. a.j. says:

    I'm taking 5 as the business side of things. Would you rather pay a guy $5 mil to play good defense and be mediocre at the plate? Or pay only $400,000 for a guy that can maybe hit for a .270 avg with less pop and do all the same things? I'll be more economical!

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    • Derek says:

      I dont see how 20 home-runs and 40 stolen bases is mediocre. You have to replace two outfield guys then, so really, youre paying $800,000 for a lower average, less home-runs, and worse defense.

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  8. a.j. says:

    I'd put Zobrist in left, Joyce in right, and Jennings in center. Leslie Anderson could end up being a solid 1B, and no one is talking about him! Derek, I'd be lying if I said that I'm an Upton fan. I know he hit more extra base hits, but if I have a guy with that much speed, I want a heck of a lot more contact than he gives us! I also think it's the smart business move. I have a guy in Jennings who has a high upside who makes good contact, plays great defense, can steal 40 bases and knock another 8-12 HR...and I only have to pay him $400,000! Or I could stick with B.J., who does all those things minus the contact and gives me a few more HR...and I gotta pay him $5 mil. We won't talk about his consistent lack of hustle either...oh wait...I just did. Don't say Jennings plays worse defense because we're not totally aware of what Jennings can do out there at the major league level, but Jennings has been labeled as an elite defender in the minors, so I'm sure he's not a slouch out there.

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    • Derek says:

      I know Jennings is a good defender, but it's tough for a rookie to be just tossed out in center. Better hitters mean harder hit balls, and sharper line drives. He needs to get the routes down before id put him out there, also 8-12 could even be a high estimate on his production. His career high is 11, which was in 09. With Jennings its just upside right now. Id rather not trade a guy that I know will deliver, just because a few fans think he is lazy.(All players take plays off, lets not pretend Upton is the only one) Im pretty sure home runs and extra base hits means great contact. I could be wrong though. Zobrist should never play center. EVER. Lets wait and see if Joyce and Jennings pan out before we trade away outfield depth. Noone knows what Anderson will be. He probably wont hit for power, does he have the skills to hit for a decent average? Again, lets not trade away the guys that answer questions. Instead of just relying on guys like Joyce, Jennings, and Anderson.

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  9. a.j. says:

    Who said to put Zobrist in center? And what I meant by CONTACT was his lack of consistent contact! 150+ K's from a guy that doesn't hit 30+ bombs is usually frowned upon. Getting picked off as often as he does, not running out ground balls when it's a double play situation, not giving full out effort on defense when there's runners on base...those are things that are unacceptable from a professional player. It's one thing to not lay out for a ball in front of you when there's no one on in the top of the 2nd, but when there's a guy on 2nd with 2 outs, you gotta go all out! He has been consistent on his laziness. So, let's not act like it only happens once every year, and it's no big deal. Cuz I can tell you that the pitching staff doesn't appreciate it at all, and his teammates have called him out on it. I'm not saying to trade the guy right now, but I have a feeling Jennings will be just as valuable to our team as Upton, and when you compare the two salaries, I'd use the money to bring in a bigger impact bat or closer.

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    • Derek says:

      How many times did he not run out last year? How many times did Longo not run out? When they know it wont be a close play NOONE runs it out. Not giving full out effort on defense? when? Have you interviewed the pitchers on this? Did they tell you he is hurting the team? How many other players have a problem with BJ? Does Evan even have a problem with him? Probably not. Its something that the media and every Rays site has blow way out of proportion, if you ask me. I agree with your feeling on Jennings, but I also think, next year, Jennings will be growing into the MLB. I dont know if he will be ready for center field, and if he cant play it, your next best option is Zo. I dont want Zo playing center field. Sure 5 million is a lot of money, but you cant get rid of him and think every think will be ok. We already lost 30+ HRs in pena, 20 in Crawford. Now you want to lose 20 HRs and 40 steals. I dont know how thats a step in right direction. With the money we have now, we can still sign Manram. Who knows whats gonna happen with the bullpen. lol

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  10. a.j. says:

    You think Manny Ramirez is going to help this team?! Now I know why you love Upton so much! You probably think Manny is a hard worker too! Did you watch Manny play at all at the end of last year? The guy has lost his bat speed...which means, he's lost his game. I won't spend anymore time arguing with you on the topic of laziness. If you think Manny is going to help us, and provide a positive influence for us, then there's no sense in wasting my time. And if you're gonna say that NOONE hustled then you really don't watch the game. Don't be afraid to take your blinders off!

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    • Derek says:

      Manny hits for a .300 average, walks 16% of the time, and could hit 30 HRs no problem. Just for the record, all of those would have lead the team in 2010. Do I care about Manny being Manny? no. I care about Winning. Here's a fun fact: Manny had a hernia last year. Im going to assume thats where the "bat speed" went. He still hit .298, and had an OBP of .409..... Evan's stats: .294 BA, and an OBP of .372. So you can cry about "laziness" Ill look at on the field production. Also, what's this about a positive influence? Who cares... This crap about clubhouse guys is bull. lol I hate people at my job, I still work at the highest level!!!! lol

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  11. a.j. says:

    You must not have ever played beyond little league...in any sport. You don't spend as much time at work with your co-workers as these guys do in their line of work. It's not a 9-5 job where you go home and don't see them again. You see them on the plane and in the hotel! You spend more time with your teammates than your own family during a season! So don't compare your job to there's!!! It's not even close in comparison! In their job, if there's a rift in a small group or even one person, it can ruin the chemistry and morale for the whole team. Even if it's a problem only for two weeks, it can ruin the team's record for the season. Again, don't compare your job to theirs! That's asinine!!!

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    • Derek says:

      !!!!! Dont hurt your fingers. I doubt the players care, former Major leaguer AJ. Maybe you did, when you played for the Rays, but I doubt anyone else does. So what if they do. They get payed to play baseball. As long as they do that well. It should not matter. Until the study comes out, that says Manny and BJ would hurt Reid's production. Ill still want them both. Ill still want them even if they do. Why? because Reid isnt that good, and Manny is still one of the best hitters in the game. While BJ might never live up to his 1st round tag. I think he improves his game from last year. Here are my predictions: .260-.275, 25 homers, 40-50 steals, 40 doubles. 7 seven triples. P.s. Upton in 2010, 9 caught stealings, Crawford, 10. Perception my friend. We see what we want to see.

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  12. a.j. says:

    You still never said if you played ball...I never said I'm a former major leaguer...I'm friends with one, but that's as close as I come. I did play 4 years of college baseball at the division 2 level...but thanks for bringing Crawford into the conversation. I don't recall ever talking about him. And you won't either...he's the enemy now! And I believe I said it can screw up morale and chemistry...never said it makes a young player less productive. If Upton does all those things, then I'll be shocked for one, but also happy that he finally figured it out. And since we see what we want to see, I guess you could take your own advice there. Cuz who else sees Upton raising his average 30 points and increasing nearly every offensive statistic. If that's the case then I got Longo hitting .320 with 35 bombs, 140 RBI, 50 2B, and 20 Sb's. God bless the Rays in 2011 if Upton and Longo do that!

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    • Derek says:

      I dont recall you asking me if I played, but no, I didnt. The only sport I played into, and beyond high school is golf. Other than that, just little league. My point still stands, that if Manny and/or BJ affects how someone plays the game, then that person needs to man up and not let someone else effect their game. Upton got better in every stat last year, whats stopping him from doing it again? He also had a career low BABIP. Id assume that will go up next year, which should lead to another increase in the other stats. The batting average was the only big increase I predicted. Other than that, he hit 18 Hrs last year, stole 42 bases, and hit 38 doubles. So its not going to take much to reach my totals. Who cares about morale, thats why we have BRAYZERS! lol. Evan probably wont hit .320 or have 140 rbis, but 35 HRs, 50 2bs, and 20 Sb's are not out of reach... 33 Hrs in 09, 46 doubles and 15 stolen bases last year. This argument has gotten old. All I really care about is keeping upton till we have someone who replace his production. Im not a fanboy or whatever. I just see losing him as a step in the wrong direction. Manny is still Manny, even if he is being Manny. He will hit.

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  13. a.j. says:

    Well, we can stop the bashing...it's holiday season! On Upton, I'm just simply over him...only because he has the tools to hit .300 with 25+ HR, drive in 85-100 RBI, steal 40 and win gold gloves every year. It's just frustrating to watch him take so many pitches in the wheelhouse and K 150+ times and only have a .235 AVG! He shouldn't be close to that low. And if everyone were sure Manny could still hit without being a cancer, he'd be getting plenty of offers. And no one's talking to him. Hearing Boras talk about him reminds me of the treatment that Bonds got before he never put the uniform on. What I tried to say at the end of my last post but got lost in translation, is if Upton finally figures everything out, then I'll love it because he is ridiculously gifted and has the potential to be more fun to watch than "the Ray formerly known as CC." And if Evan puts up those numbers, then the two of them will likely lead us to the promise land. GO RAYS!!! that much we can agree on!

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    • Derek says:

      I agree, but just like Beckham, Upton might never reach his true potential. I still think both, well right now just Upton, are of value to the Rays. Just because he Ks a lot doesnt mean he isnt at least a good hitter. We know what Upton should give us next year. We have no idea about Jennings, Joyce, Anderson, even Brignac. Thats the only reason I want to keep him. I have no idea who is after Manny. Just because his name isnt being mentioned on twitter, doesnt mean clubs arent internally talking about him. Right, but I, for one, have no issue with Carl or the Red Sox. "Enemy" or not, he got paid, and Im probably going to watch more Cub/Red sox games this year.

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