With Spring Training set to begin this week, let’s take a look at what the opening day roster might look like and some of the questions that remain to be answered…

 

A few notes on the 25-man roster projection

LINEUP:

There are three roster spots up for grabs. We are giving Dan Johnson the edge over Casey Kotchman, and we would be surprised if Andrew Friedman kept both players. That means Kotchman probably starts the year in the minors with the promise of being called up by a certain date or he will be granted his release.

If Johnson is in, that means the lineup versus righties is probably set. However, the lineup versus lefties could be fluid. Depending the on who the pitcher is, Joe Maddon must decide between Johnson at first base or Matt Joyce in right field. That decision will determine whether Ben Zobrist plays right field or first base. And based on Maddon’s (lack of) confidence in Zobrist at first base, that could mean limited starts for Joyce versus lefties.

BENCH:

The other spots still in question are backup infielder and the fourth outfielder.

We still give the edge to Elliot Johnson over Felipe Lopez and Joe Inglett based on position flexibility, but none of those three would be a surprise.

In the outfield, Sam Fuld is close to being a lock. He even got some work in center field and right field this weekend. And while Joe Maddon has given Justin Ruggiano a long look this spring, he can be sent to the minors. Fuld cannot.

ROTATION:

Jeremy Hellickson appears to be healthy. So he should be in the rotation to start the year. However, there is a small possibility that the Rays keep him in the minors for the first week.

While it is rare for Joe Maddon to skip starters the first week, he doesn’t need a fifth starter until April 9. If Maddon chooses that path, look for JoeMa to work with a five-man bench the first week. But that still doesn’t help somebody like Felipe Lopez or Casey Kotchman. The Rays would likely prefer the final spot go to somebody already on the 40-man roster, so that they can easily be demoted a week later.

BULLPEN:

The relief corps will be led by Kyle Farnsworth, Andy Sonnanstine and Joel PeraltaAdam Russell is out of options so he is in. The Rays just lost Rule 5 pick Cesar Cabral, so he is no longer an option. And one of the spots will eventually go to JP Howell, but that might not happen until May.

For the last three spots, we see seven guys with a legit shot.

Based on how they have been used so far this spring, it looks like Juan Cruz and Rob Delaney have a little edge over the others. The final spot is looking more and more like Jake McGee.

 
 

18 Comments

  1. Gus says:

    Sam Fuld and his .136 OBP is not exactly making the case that he should be on the team. Des hasn’t been hitting great this spring, but he is the one Ray who is walking a bunch and at least getting on base that way too.

    I know the argument is that Des needs to start when he comes up to the Majors, but I am sick of carrying guys who are among the bottom 5 outfielders in the majors — guys like Kapler and perhaps Fuld. Ruggiano should get the chance over him.

  2. Zack says:

    Where’s Chirinos?

    • Cork Gaines says:

      He’ll start the year in triple-A. But considering how much playing time he is getting, we will definitely see him at some point in the season. But right now, he and Jake McGee are in the same boat. Both are good enough to be up now. But both have a chance to be even better. And I think the Rays are willing to be a little patient. And who knows, if the Rays can find somebody to take Shoppach off their hands, we could see him sooner.

  3. Charles says:

    It is really gonna sting to have to leave El Chef off the roster. I hope World B. is working the phones with Houston to see if they have any interest in Shoppach now that they’ve lost Jason Castro for the year.

  4. Joe says:

    Wonder how hard AF is trying to trade Shop, they have to want Chirinos on the team.

    I really think McGee is making it over Delaney. During the Red Sox game, Hickey said “we still need a lefty, a power arm” McGee fits both of those. Juan Cruz will try to be Benoit by starting off the year in AAA giving Wade a spot and then it’s Ramos vs Swindle for the last spot, Ramos does have the 40 man spot so I’d choose him, of course that is just the spot that is keeping JP’s seat warm.

  5. St. Aug Ryan says:

    At least we have Sonnastine on the roster. Unbelievable! Waste of a roster spot.

  6. Brixology says:

    Why is Ruggs easier to send to the minors than Fuld? Did we retain an option on him even though he was taken off the 40-man and went through waivers?

  7. phil says:

    Want McGee in the bullpen from day 1…Swindle over Ramos? Ok they need two lefties in the pen especially for the Red Sox series in April.

    They need to develop a catcher so give Chirinos additional seasoning in triple A. (like 2 months)

    Cork – How has Russell and Wade looked this spring?

  8. Joe says:

    I guess a trade can be worked out. Still a very, very long shot to make the team but Cabrel is back to camp.

  9. Hal says:

    Do we really need a back-up middle infielder? We have 3 guys (Briggy, Zobrist, and Sean) for 2 positions. Briggy will start most days at short, Sean can fill in on his day off, and Zobrist and Sean trade 2nd. I’d personally rather have someone who offers value with a defined roll on the bench then some re-tred slappy. Dave and Andy were talking about this the other day on the radio and came to the conclusion that there’s no way we keep 2 1st basemen.

    I’m not so sure. I’m a big fan of DJ, but man he is a statue at 1st. Kotchman’s been better than Pena defensively this spring – just superb. He’s also been hitting. Give’s us a right-handed option against tough lefties and comes in late to help hold leads. A different way.

    • Joe says:

      I don’t want Elliot on the team, jury is still out for me on Lopez. Maybe if they wanted Chirinos playing some MIF instead of working on his catching, I would like another infielder.

      • Dollars says:

        Why not Elliot? He can play many positions, allowing good isnsurance should someone get hurt. I would not want Lopez and his attitude. Ask Albert why he ran him out of the Cardinals clubhouse – He has been and always will be a big problem.

    • Alex says:

      Yea too bad Casey Kotchman is LEFT HANDED batting and catching. He’s an awful hitter. Don’t be fooled by his spring training stats.

  10. Alex says:

    McGee is going to make the team over either Swindle or Delaney

  11. John says:

    We got Cabral back from the Jays after they waived him. Not that he’s making the team anyway.

  12. Political_Man says:

    I’m feeling okay with Kyle Farnsworth, Jake McGee and Joel Peralta but after that I’m feeling VERY uncomfortable with anyone else out of this bullpen. If either JP Howell or Juan Cruz come back with little to no effects from their respective injuries the bullpen becomes serviceable. Then again if they both come back from injuries, the bullpen looks above average.

    I’ve never seen a bullpen from any major league team going into the season that could really go so far in either direction. It makes sense considering that this is the first time (I believe) any team has had to replace their entire bullpen before.

    If everything breaks right we’ll all be talking (again) about the genius of Andrew Freidman. If everything breaks wrong, this bullpen could be worse than the 2007 bullpen (if that’s even possible.)

    While one part of me is optimistic, the reality is that I have no idea what to expect from the 2011 Tampa Bay Rays.

  13. Hans says:

    Ekstrom is real bad this spring. Topkin said he has a decent change to make the opening day roster. I don’t get that, the man has been awfull. (Hayhurst is playing much better!) I don’t like Shields and Sonnanstine either. Both keep up way to much hits and runs.. We need to get a better starting pitcher, maybe Torres can come in a hurry from Tripple A.

    Don’t think Fuld will be on the bench, he’s not playing well. Maybe he’s out of options, I don’t know. The chef has to be on the roster.

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