With the Rays and Kelly Johnson reaching an agreement on a free agent contract, let’s take a look at what the opening day roster might look like based on players currently in the organization…

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Here are the biggest questions that remain. And as always, you guys are my best editors, so if there is somebody or something I am forgetting, speak up…

  • Is James Loney a lock to be an everyday first baseman? The lack of right-handed bats on the roster suggests that he will be.
  • Where will Kelly Johnson play and how often? Ken Rosenthal says he will be a utility player. But that could just mean the Rays are entering this with an open mind. Second base against lefties seems like a near-lock. But what about righties? Left field or center field (with Desmond Jennings playing left)? That’s possible but seems like a stretch. But other than that, where does he fit in the lineup the other 100 games (against RHPs)?
  • Who is playing left field? Let’s assume Desmond Jennings moves to center field (something that is not guaranteed). Brandon Guyer is the only other right-handed outfield bat. But what about against righties? Sam Fuld would be the obvious choice. But if he makes the roster, that means either Brandon Guyer or Sean Rodriguez is an odd-man out. But if those guys don’t make the roster, that leaves a hole in the lineup against lefties.
  • Who is DHing against lefties? If Brandon Guyer is playing in the outfield against righties, that leaves Sean Rodriguez as the only other right-handed bat, as scary as that sounds.
  • Who is on the bench? At this point it looks like the final two spots on the roster will come from the four-some of Brandon Guyer, Sam Fuld, Sean Rodriguez, and Elliot Johnson. It seems hard to believe that Guyer would make the team over Fuld, but Guyer’s right-handed bat can’t be ignored on this roster.
  • Who will fill the final spots in the bullpen? I give the edge to Jamey Wright and Roberto Hernandez. Also in the mix is Alex Torres, Dane de la Rosa, and Brandon Gomes.
  • Where does Will Myers fit into this mess? The easy answer is “anywhere he wants when he’s ready.” But recent moves by the Rays does suggest that the Rays are preparing to play the majority of the season without Myers. That doesn’t mean he won’t be called up in May or June. But it feels like the Rays are just going to assume he won’t be ready, and if he is, he will be a bonus.
 
 

44 Comments

  1. Joe says:

    Why is Johnson not at 2B if he’s playing anyway? Only thing I’d chance since I sadly can’t add Myers to it is Johnson at 2B, Zo in RF and Joyce in LF vs righties

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Apparently the plan is for Zobrist to continue to play at 2B against righties. And when I put Johnson in left field, that is just a guess at whom might be there most often. But based on how this roster is constructed right now, the third OF spot is likely to be a revolving door.

      • Mr.Smith 1980 says:

        @Prof

        Call me crazy, but wouldn’t Zorilla be the best option as the secondary DH. I know he’s shown ridiculous value in the field over the years, but here’s a switch-hitting player who can hit for power and average while allowing some of the other new toys to play more structured roles and get more AB’s (Ryan Roberts, for instance).

        -The poster formerly known as DirtbagFan

    • Drew says:

      Only thing that looks fishy to me is The DH against lefties…Roberts and Rodriguez are the only RH bats if Guyer is playing outfield. Roberts should bat over Srod

  2. Joe says:

    I don’t think the Rays are into paying a guy almost 3 mil to sweep the bench. I think vs lefties, you will see Roberts at 2B, Guyer in LF, Zo in RF and I do not think S-Rod will start, I think that will be Johnson’s spot vs the lefties.

    While our bench keeps getting better, the chances of Wil Myers have gone down to well, 0% and I think we might have some platoons with 2 lefties..

  3. Joe says:

    Oh and I have loved Gomes since the trade and wanted him to get that 7th spot and they already need to clear 3 spots on the 40 man, if they carry Wright, they need to clear a 4th but if he really is so good with the groundball, give it a try…should of just kept Badenhop

  4. Joe says:

    I keep forgetting what I wanna say, my other thing was the Rays are loaded with injury prone guys. If Joyce or Scott visit their fav place, the DL, it gives Myers the chance and he may never give up that spot once he gets it. Heck, if Evan got hurt, you would prob see TatMan at 3B, Zo at 2B and Myers in the OF so it would take an injury or 2 in Spring but I think he gets called up earlier than it looks right now

  5. Dave L says:

    I would expert Roberts to get alot of starts at 2nd against RHP and Zobrist to play the outfield.

    I cant imagine they would stick a guy who hasnt played the outfield in 7 years out there.

    I expected Loney to be the one to get platooned but theres no roster spots left now. I am still expecting 1 more RHB platoon first baseman/DH to get signed and SRod will be fighting for his Rays Career in April.

    Another lefty bat? They better have Price on the mound when we face the likes of Chris Sale. Thats a no hitter waiting to happen.

    Are all these pitchers the Sox and Blue Jays brought in right handed? No. The Jays have Buerhle and Romero and the Sox still have Lester and Doubrant.

    The good news for you Myers early promotion advocates is that if we dont sign another RH bat, then that means the Rays think Myers is on the Fast Track to St Pete.

  6. Joe says:

    Thing I don’t like is Rays are simply in love with S-Rod so it becomes Fuld vs Guyer and while Guyer’s RH bat is needed badly, Fuld and his lack of options are getting the job.

  7. Beazy says:

    If they all do what their capable of, we should be talking championship!

  8. Joe D. says:

    No Briggy baseball? I can’t say i’d be shocked, but the Rays, thought so highly of him for so long (wouldn’t part with him for Jason Bay), it’s disappointing…

  9. Don says:

    One more .220 (infielder) hitter and we got a championship for sure..think I can’t stand it…They blew up their 2013 infield and now trying to plug holes…I can see Zo shaking his head now and saying…I was suppose to be 2nd or SS…. now where Maddon?..OH no… not 1st base ( or full time OF)…how about Scott he feels much better… what a collection of garbage but Cheap..so Stuie is happy….read’em and weap boys…

    • Joe D. says:

      How can you knock Stu? Since the guy has been in St Pete, he’s turned the team around, from being seller dwellers to perennial contenders. Like it or not Don, the Rays can’t spend money like the Yanks, I remember you supported the Rays keeping CC, since the Bo Sox, brought in Crawford, he’s tanked, the Sox been in shambles, and the Rays have continued to contend. The Sox have enough money to eat a bad contract send payers elsewhere and start, over a big money bad signing could send the Rays into a decade long tail spin…

  10. Dave L says:

    Johnson made $6.375M last year. So his pay cut after a crappy year can’t be that great. What’s he going to get? I’m guessing like Roberts money, probably more. That’s a relatively high price for the Rays to spend on 2 backup infielders.

    Johnson is a windmill the past 3 years averaging 150+ per year. So we know where BJ and Los k’s are coming from but still not where their power, or threat of power is coming from.

    Guyer starts in AAA and i think the days of Briggy, EJ and SRod are numbered and all will be set packing, the former two by opening day and Sean by the All Star break.

  11. Don says:

    If you consider Zobrist was going to be the Starting SS, can anyone tell me where we have improved, I guess you could say Loney over Pena, but thats not hard for a .200 hitter replacement..can’t wait to see Maddon’s line up card this year… all 162 (different) ones….
    If Johnson gets $6mil, Escobar $5mil,Roberts $3mi, Loney $3mil…who said the Rays were cheap……
    Zobrist… Time to go Longoria contract on them and tell them you will play twice as many games as longo next 5 years, where’s your money?

  12. Greg says:

    KJohnson and Roberts have to get innings at 2B. I’m wondering if Zobrist will play 1B against lefties and RF against righties. That would push Joyce to LF against RHP. We know Madden uses a lot of different lineups, so this is a futile exercise really. But it’s fun, so a sort of common lineup might be:

    Against RHP:
    C Molina
    1B Loney
    2B KJohnson
    SS Escobar
    3B Longo
    LF Joyce
    CF Jennings
    RF Zobrist
    DH Scott

    Against LHP:
    C Lobaton
    1B Zobrist
    2B Roberts
    SS Escobar
    3B Longo
    LF Joyce
    CF Jennings
    RF Zobrist
    DH KJohnson/SRod

    Maybe this will account for 2 or 3 of Joe’s 142 different lineups he runs out this year.

  13. Mr.Smith 1980 says:

    SRod is seeming more and more like dead-weight. I can’t fathom him as a long-term secondary-option at DH…

    The Cajun is a goner, and rightfully so, the kid has had his chances and hasn’t taken advantage.

    Tatman is a bit of a conundrum to me- I can’t understand how he deserves that big a piece of the pie when he seems like a band-aid player, at best.

    Zobrist is the wildcard (as usual), his versatility makes a lot of these secondary and tertiary players a luxury, or insurance policies against injury, he can effectively play in place of half the team and devalues players like SRod, Roberts, E. Johson, and K. Johnson.

    • Ted Sheckler says:

      Big piece of pie? Since when is 3 million a big piece in MLB? He’s hit 31 homers and stolen 28 bases the last two years. What should he be getting paid? I don’t know what all the indifference is for this guy. He is soooooo much better than SRod.

      • Mr.Smith 1980 says:

        Agreed (in regard to his being better than SRod… by a lot). A big piece of the pie in that his 3 MM is equal to about 5% of the total payroll – as a marginal player. I know that in the grand scheme of things that is next to nothing, but it goes back to a post I left earlier on a different thread; at what point does the scale tip toward saying that as opposed to all of these lateral small(er) deals would it have made more sense to make one big(ger) deal?

        • Ted Sheckler says:

          I understand, but it’s only a 1 year deal. I might question it if they had signed him as a free agent and guaranteed him 3 years.

          I think, to attempt to answer your question, that it would depend on who the “big deal” went to, and how big/long the deal was. Most big deals are multiple years. It’s big long term deals that can kill a low revenue team, not a bunch of small 1 year deals.

  14. Don says:

    MLB reporters not as dumb as I thought, they ranked ZObrist as the 3rd best RF in baseball behind Bautista & Stanton, also rated in top 10 2nd baseman,
    Now go after that contract Zo…. Johnson & Escobar might make as much as ZO…time to go for the money…

  15. Rick says:

    Sam Fuld will definitely be on the opening day roster. He is our best defensive outfielder and who plays CF if 1) Jennings get hurt or needs a day off or 2) the Rays decide he’s not an everyday CF and decide to keep him in left which seems possible. He also brings speed and a decent bat vs RHP.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      That’s all true. But who is playing left field against lefties? Fuld is a mediocre hitter. He is horrible against lefties.

        • Cork Gaines says:

          Yes, that’s my point. I’m not sure you can have both Fuld and Guyer on the roster. There is already Jennings, Joyce, and Zobrist playing the outfield. Maddon typically carries 4 outfielders. And now we’ve got Kelly Johnson who might be in line for some playing time in the outfield. Maybe Maddon keeps both Guyer and Fuld. But that’s a lot of outfielders.

      • Dave L says:

        I still think we are getting 1 more RH bat that can play RF and First and DH in a pinch.

        Guyer is insurance for injury and until Baby Jesus arrives from Durham and saves the lineup.

  16. Jim says:

    The Rays love versatility and they got it. They also love defense. So I believe the lineups they choose will optimize the defense while still providing the max offensive punch they can put together. Zobrist is the key. He is great at 2B and RF. However infield defense is more important, so I believe you keep Zo at 2B. Picking up Johnson added some balanced offense. I believe the Rays will give him every opportunity to grab the LF spot against both LHP and RHP. He definitely brings more offense that Fuld. The balance of the players in puzzle are platoon type players. You have Joyce, Scott, and Loney at RF, DH, and 1B against RHP. On the surface Guyer, Roberts and Rodriguez are availabe against LHP. Put Zobrist in the mix and you can have a lot of combos at 2B, RF, DH and 1B. However I do believe Joe will opt for the best defensive combo whatever that is.

    By the way Guyer is a pretty iffy keep because he missed all last year. It would not be a shock if the Rays picked up a solid (> .800 OPS) right handed hitting OF/1B to fill that spot. They could use someone to drop in the 5 hole against LHP.

  17. Mike says:

    What makes you think Dirtbag will be playing on Opening Day? I am not optimistic, and expect to see either K. Johnson (if he can do it) or Zobrist manning 3b for the first few weeks at least, with SRod getting some PT against LHP.

    • Jim says:

      That’s the beauty of having K. Johnson, Roberts, Zobrist, and even Rodriquez. You never know who’s going to go down or when. Having these guys gives us the versatility to adjust in so many different ways and when we adjust we are not left with an offensive drain. When we had E. Johnson and Rodriguez or Brignac as backups, we had defense but but no offensive punch. We are much better positioned with bats like Johnson and Roberts available. If they keep Rodriguez, I believe he will be the super utility late inning sub that can go from position to position as Joe makes adjustments.

    • Alex says:

      What indication are you getting that Longoria won’t be playing opening day?

      • Cork Gaines says:

        The latest report on Longo was that he likely won’t be ready for the start of Spring Training but that Maddon “expects” him to be ready for opening day. Based on Longo’s rehab last year as well as other situations where rehabs took longer than originally expected, some are skeptical.

  18. J 2.0 says:

    Why does everyone love Guyer so much? I don’t understand it. What is so great about a 27 year old career minor leaguer who has only hit .188 in the majors, has a minor league career BA of .296 and only has 48 HR’s in 1766 minor league at bats?

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I dont think there is a lot of love. But right now, what is the better right-handed option in the outfield?

      • J 2.0 says:

        What is the date that we need to keep Myers in AAA until?

        Also, I am aware Myers has proven nothing outside of the minors, and the PCL at that. So he has to prove himself in Durham, but assuming he is just light out, what would that date be?

  19. Steve says:

    As long as Briggy and SRod are gone, I’ll be ok with the opening day roster.

  20. Rick says:

    I also think the Johnson signing means they may look to move Roberts. Johnson can do everything Roberts can do including hitting LHP and is more versatile with more power. Any word on how much they are paying Johnson?

    • Jim says:

      If I was looking for infield help, I would certainly knock on the door of the Rays. We would listen to talk of CF help or a RH 1B/OF platoon. The Rays have said all along that they want to add a “big bat”. I love the additions they have made; but I would not call any one of them a “big bat”. The most productive is Scott but we already had him last year. There is no doubt that with our infield depth and pitching depth another move could be in the offering. It may come after we have a chance to see what we really have in spring training.

  21. budman3 says:

    Jesus Guzman?

  22. Kyle says:

    I think everyone has forgotten that there is still a PTBNL headed out to KC…

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