With less than a month until pitchers and catchers report, 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 LF.
  • LINEUP: Andrew Friedman says Elliot Johnson, Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez will share middle infield duties. LF, RF, 1B and DH are wide-open right now. DH will be filled through free agency (Vlad Guerrero?). Dan Johnson will play some 1B, but who will be there against lefties? Justin Ruggiano is out of minor league options. Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist will also see time in the outfield.
  • BENCH: Due to Joe Maddon’s love of the platoon, the only true bench guy might be fourth outfielder Sam Fuld. Other possibilities for the bench are Chris Carter and Leslie Anderson. Both of those guys are at a disadvantage as left-handed bats when the Rays really need a right-handed bat or two.
  • ROTATION: With Matt Garza gone, his spot will go to Jeremy Hellickson, but when? We still wouldn’t be surprised if Andy Sonnanstine is in the rotation the first couple of weeks.
  • BULLPEN: Five 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. But if Adam Russell is ready, the Rays may be OK with sending Cabral back. Also, look for Cesar Ramos to keep JP Howell’s spot warm until he is back from the DL. And of course, this all changes if/when the Rays sign another relief pitcher (Jon Rauch?).


  1. TP says:

    Any idea on a timetable for Jennings? I was hoping he’d be ready to start the season, but I guess it doesn’t make sense to rush him for 2011. Is he on the Longoria ’08 track?

  2. phil says:

    everything should be geared towards 2012…Now that Rauch is not coming!

  3. Rome says:

    Why the lack of McGee?

  4. phil says:

    probably starting the year in AAA

  5. Greg says:

    As a rule 5 pick, doesn’t Cabral need to be on the roster all year? Or we have to offer him back for $25K to whoever we got him from?

  6. calmer than you are says:

    I think we’ll see a lot of McGee and DJ . . . but not on opening day.

  7. Indiana Rays Boy says:

    I thought Jaso, Joyce, Brignac and Rodriguez are ready to be everyday players (both LHP and RHP) according to Maddon. What is up with that?

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I don’t have the quote in front of me, but I believe it was more along the lines of Maddon saying he can see them as everyday players but didn’t go so far as to say they are ready for that. I might have been wrong, but I interpreted it to mean that they are close but maybe not quite there.

  8. Joe says:

    Somehow, these lineups don’t scare me. They don’t look inspiring. This is going to be a real work in progress and then some!

  9. Rome says:

    You know what I like about this line-up? Flexability. You have a lot of guys who can play a plethora of different positions. What does that mean? Depth. You look at the Yankees, they have questions in their line-up, which is not intimiating. The Red Sox look good on paper, but if a few guys go down, who will step up? Also, the Red Sox have a big question mark at catcher. I like the Rays’ chances. The guys the rays have picked up via free agency have not been bad. Paralta and Farnworth are not phenominal stars but, they are not anyone to sneeze at. The Rays will be fine, but I hope the Tampa Bay area have the patience to to allow the Rays to prove it on the field. I like our chances. Superstars? Longoria, Price. All-Stars? Maybe three or four pending on a few circumstances. Good players? More then a few. Go Rays.

  10. rays11 says:

    Wow Rome….I thought the only people who might even remotely be excited about this lineup were named Maddon and Friedman. This lineup is a lot closer to terrible than great. The batting order is loaded with question marks from 1 – 9 and that includes Longoria. Without protection Longoria could struggle mightily. And if your putting your faith in Peralta, Farnsworth and a couple of Padre minor leaguers….not to mention no closer! Price is probably the closest to a sure thing. Shields is awful. Lets hope Niemann and Davis can at least duplicate last years effort. Hellickson looked good in his limited starts last year but can he go a full season at the major league level. I’m sorry but its hard to get excited about the prospects this season.

    • rays11 says:

      As far as the Yankees and Sox are concerned I doubt they worry much about losing one or two of their front line players. The have more than enough resources to pick up a superstar or two at the trade deadline if necessary. The sox battled to the end last year without Youkilis, Pedroia and Ellsbury.

      • Rome says:

        Protection? What protection did Longo have in ’10? Maddon used 129 different batting orders, Crawford was a lock at the #2 until August. Pena was batted in the 5 hole 62 games total. As for Production Pena was not exactly lighting up the place. The Rays will be fine. In ’08 I wasn’t jumping for joy with our bullpen, but the Rays seem to do pretty well. At the start of last season, I was rather nervous about the bullpen. Soriano only pitched 7 innings in spring training. Howell was MIA, Wheeler and Balfour where not throwing to top velocity. Finally, Beniot was not a guarantee to play consistent or without injury. I have more reasons to be optimistic about the guys who are finally given a opportunity then I have to be pessimistic about the guys that we lost. Yes, I realize that of our starting 25 that we had on the field for last year’s opening that only 12 will return. I think the Rays will have a more consistent line-up to start 11 and the bullpen is subject but it’s not going to be hopeless.

        • rays11 says:

          Even if Pena batted behind Longoria for 65 games I would still take it over anyone currently on the roster. If nothing else Pena generated a small amount of respect in AL pitchers due to his power potential. I doubt anyone currently on this roster puts the fear in any team. As i read on another post here … Longoria might not see another fastball until 2014! Plus last year you had the guarantee of Crawford hitting in front of Longo. God only knows who will get on base in front of him this year. This team is filled in every position with .240 hitters, high strikeout guys who are mostly unproven. The thought of a lineup consisting of Shoppach, Elliot Johnson, Ruggiano and Dan Johnson is about as bad as it can get.

          Granted Benoit was an unbelievable find last year. But to think that is going to happen again this year. Soriano was a proven commodity who could close and fell into the Rays lap. And Wheeler and Balfour were proven relievers. Choate as your bullpen lefty. A great mix last year. this year you have Peralta and Farnsworth who have been terrible for years. (I would take Balfour over Farnsworth any day of the week.) You have Sonnanstine for long relief or spot starting which is fine. After that you have a bunch of minor leaugers. Why didnt they resign Balfour … there wasnt much difference between what he got and Farnsworths deal.

          I just dont see where you see the consistency in this lineup? A bunch of utility players who in Maddons world will be constantly platooning. It will be hard for any of them including Joyce/Jaso to get the consistent playing time to improve.

          • Derek says:

            I wouldnt mind Rodriguez behind him, against LHP. Heres a few facts for you. Evan saw a higher percentage of fastballs last year than he did in 09, but he wasnt as good against them. I doubt Pena, or anyone, has much effect on the types of pitches he sees, but if thats the case, hopefully they throw him more changeups. He was a lot better against changeups and cutters than he was in 09. In my mind, last year was his best so far, even with the lack off of HRs. I can see Dan-jo, Rodriguez, and Upton seeing time behind Longo, and Im ok with that.

    • Tone says:

      100% agree. I love the Rays, but this roster looks like a below .500 team to me. The thing that pisses me off is that all they needed to do was add a solid DH and closer and this team would be looking pretty damn good. They have completely given up this season. The cost would have been minimal to field a competitor. Matsui signed for cheap, Rauch and Saito were cheap. Balfour’s deal is only 500k more than Farnsworth a season(if you count the inevitable buyout). Their game of holding out till the last man is standing has not paid off and I really don’t think they care. I have not lived in FL for over 6 years now, it’s the first year in a while that I am not even remotely jealous of season ticket holders; I pity them.

      • Derek says:

        Pena and Crawford were not worth 81 wins, and for the bullpen to even matter, the offense needs to give them the lead, so I dont see how this is a below .500 team.

        Is the off-season over? Did Vlad, Manny and Damon sign already?

        Clearly the FO thought a one year deal to Farnsworth was worth more to them than a two year deal to Balfour. It amazes me how people overvalue Balfour.

        I believe this team has some of the best scouts out there, and maybe they really think that Farnsworth and Peralta are enough at the back end.

  11. ttnorm says:

    Cabral is the longest of longshots to make the team. McGee is far ahead. No reason McGee starts the year in AAA unless his game goes backwards. If the Rays were worried about his service time, they wouldn’t have brought him up in September. There are many better options for the last bullpen slot.

    If Joyce and Brignac can be productive v. LHP, that would be huge.

    Don’t like BenZo as a platoon 1B. Waste of his defensive skillset and the bat doesn’t play too well there. Stick him in RF and Joyce in LF and get a bat for 1B and DH to hit 4-5.

    No way Elliot Johnson platoons at 2B v. RHP. That means 450 Plate appearances for a replacement level player. He is fine as a sparkplug super utility backup. Rodriguez is fine as the everyday 2B. I can see most of EJs ABs coming to spell Brignac v. tough LHPs.

    The platoon at C is the stuff of fantasy leagues. IRL, platoons at C are mostly based on their relationships with starting pitchers.

    I don’t see Jennings making the 25 because I don’t think he can push BenZo or Joyce out of the lineup and DJ needs to play. He is the first guy up if an OFer goes down or is traded. His skill set plays best in CF anyway and there are 4825000 reasons why he won’t be playing CF for now.

    Chances look good for a trade or two, maybe another big one, to round out the 2011 25 man roster.

    • Derek says:

      I doubt Brignac ever becomes an above average offensive SS. I do agree, EJ will get more at bats at ss than at 2nd.

      DJ’s A LOT better on defense than Joyce. I could easily see him push Joyce out against LHPs.

      Shoppach was a lot better against LHPs last year, and I do believe they platooned towards the end of the year.

      Mcgee starts in AAA if they want him to still be a starter, which outside of injury concerns, he still should be.

  12. Derek says:

    Rodriguez has a better chance of being an everyday starter. I mean, if Brignac does then so does Rodriguez. EJ has like 16 at bats. Theres no way he is the leading candidate for anything.

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