The 2008 25-man roster prediction is based only players currently within the organization and will be updated when trades are consummated and free agents are signed.

Last week we updated our Rays Trade Value Index, in which we ranked every player on the 40-man roster and the top prospects in the organization. Earlier this week we laid out our predictions for the Rays 2008 40-man roster and opening day payroll. The next logical step is to predict what the 25-man roster and starting lineup/rotation will look like on March 31, 2008 when the Rays open the 2008 season in Baltimore.

(Notes on the 25-man roster can be found at the end of this post)


    • Evan Longoria should the opening day third baseman. Everybody says that the Dirtbag is ready.
    • Akinori Iwamura is likely to the starting second baseman whether or not Evan Longoria is on the opening day roster. Even if Longoria is not on the roster, the team will want him manning the hot corner at some point in 2008, so it makes more sense to give the position temporarily to Brendan Harris, rather than move Aki in the middle of the season.
    • Brendan Harris will be on the roster. If the team fails to land a shortstop through trade, Harris will keep the shortstop position warm until Reid Brignac is ready. If Evan Longoria starts the season at Durham, Harris could be at third with Ben Zobrist as the starting shortstop.
    • Rocco Baldelli and Jonny Gomes will split time at DH and both will see time in the outfield, unless one is traded in the offseason.
    • With the Rays deciding to let Greg Norton go, the Rays will need some left handed pop off the bench and that means Chris Snelling will be the outfielder off the bench and Justin Ruggiano will be a victim of numbers and needs. If the Rays have Ben Zobrist on the bench or can find another left handed bat, Ruggiano will push Snelling for a roster spot in spring training.
    • Ben Zobrist gets the edge over Josh Wilson for the utility infielder.
    • The team will likely sign a veteran free agent catcher and Shawn Riggans will be back at Durham.
    • Top three spots are locked.
    • Andy Sonnanstine would have to have a terrible spring and sleep with Joe Maddon’s girlfriend in order to lose his spot.
    • The fifth spot is wide open. The team will look to fill this spot through a cheap free agent (not likely), a trade (maybe) but would prefer to see either Jeff Niemann or Mitch Talbot step-up in Spring Training and take the job.
    • Al Reyes will be the closer, but look for the Rays to dole out save opportunities to others. Unless he throws out his arm (again) Reyes will be traded prior to the July 31 trade deadline.
    • Juan Salas and Dan Wheeler look like the only other two guarantees in the bullpen. Salas will probably see regular save opportunities in 2008.
    • The rest of the bullpen is a wide-open race and most likely two or even three of these spots will go to players not currently in the organization. As it stands now, JK Ryu will likely fill the role of long-man. We are having second thoughts on Jon Switzer. It may be more likely that either he or Kurt Birkins will fill the role of lefty. That leaves one spot up for grabs. Calvin Medlock? Scott Dohmann (who we predicted earlier this week would be DFA’d)?

2008 Tampa Bay Rays Trade Value Index [Rays Index]
2008 40-Man Roster And Payroll Predictions [Rays Index]



  1. TV Pilot says:

    No love for the Dohmann-ator? I also think Dukes may start the season with the team. You have noted how well he has been hitting in DR, and personally I would rather him DH than Baldelli.

  2. Jason Lyman-Hazleton, PA says:

    Wow I have lots to disagree with here...
    You have Bikins and Switzer both making it, where I see only Switzer as a lefty in the bullpen. There is no way that they bounce Balfour and Dohmann like you think, Dohmann's numbers were impressive, Balfour has way better makeup than Birkins.
    You don't have Edwin's job as up for grabs, and you have Sonny's that way? Edwin couldn't hit the strikezone with a scope, and Sonny has a WHIP under 1.3, what gives? Where's Niemann? AAA?
    Ryu in the bullpen? maybe, but I'd see him DFA'd before Dohmann or Balfour.
    Your bench has no backup 1st basemen, Has Chris Snelling, who will be lucky to make out of the spring, I'd rather see Ruggiano anyway- You have Harris at short, he is a better lampost than SS. Sorry Cork, bud, but your 25 man roster would lose 110 games next year---

  3. The Professor says:

    Like i mentioned in the post. those last 4 bullpen spots are really a toss-up and will be decided in the spring.

    dohmann did have strong numbers down the stretch but mostly in a mop-up situations and i never got the impression that Papa Joe liked his stuff.

    Jackson is out of options and he showed down the stretch that he is capable of throwin strikes. He still has the best fastball on the staff.

    i also mentioned that Sonny is pretty close to a lock. If they sign a free agent AND lets say Niemann dominates in the spring...Sonny gets bounced before Jackson. Not likely but possible.

    You might be right about Ryu, but i think the team still sees value in him as trade bait.

    I think the team envisions Harris as a utility infielder which means he could play first base.

    And harris at short is just "the lesser of three evils (Zobrist, Harris, Wilson) but at least he can provide some offense. Ultimately somebody else will be there. remember this is based only on players currently in the organization. changes will be made.

    And i prefer Ruggiano also, and as soon as Snelling goes on the DL (again) we will probably see Ruggiano. But being a lefty gives Snelling an edge.

  4. Jason Lyman-Hazleton, PA says:

    what happenes to Hammel?

  5. The Professor says:

    Obviously he is first man out if somebody steps up or is added to the roster. I guess we could see him as the long man out of the pen in the place of Ryu or somebody else.

    But more likely he will be in Durham and the team would use him as a fill-in starter if somebody goes on the DL or misses a start.

  6. raysrule07 says:

    Hammel's out of options, he can't be sent back to Durham. Howell, Niemann, and Ryu each have one left, though.

  7. Jason Lyman-Hazleton, PA says:

    I would DFA Stokes, thats a no brainer-
    Birkins also has an option, so there is no question he has to start at Durham, Snelling has an option too...
    Balfour and Dohmann don't, and I just think they will be included on the 25. I have Hammel as the #5 to start

    My bullpen goes:
    Jackson (tho no one agrees)
    I'd love to trade Dohmann in on Percival or Riske- Id also keep a close eye on Medlock and Orvella (yes that Orvella)

    I'd like to keep Glover, but I don't see how you can...

  8. The Professor says:

    Good call. Hammel didnt make his big league debut until 2006, but he was on the 40-man in 2005. So he is out of options. That would make me lean towards seeing Hammel as the long man in the pen if he is not in the rotation.

  9. The Professor says:

    i just corrected that. i think stokes has an option left because he was on the 25 man roster all season last year

  10. Jason Lyman-Hazleton, PA says:

    I am alomost positive Stokes it out of options...

  11. The Professor says:

    they used on option on Stokes in 2005 and 2006, but he did not spend more than 20 days in the minors in 2007 so they did not use an option in 2007.

  12. Anonymous says:

    There was a comment on one of the newspaper blogs about Baltimore offering Ramon Hernandez for Gomes. Any thoughts on that one? I think I would jump at it. Johnny has some value but I would rather give his spot to Dukes, and Hernandez seems like an ok gamble.

  13. The Professor says:

    its baltimore so it wouldnt surprise me. but if it were true, i would put Jonny Gomes on my back and carry him to Baltimore...and Gomes is one of my favorite players.

  14. Anonymous says:

    To play devil's advocate Hernandez was pretty lousy last year. .258, 9 HR (.382 slugging!) in only 106 games. And catchers can fall apart quick.
    That said we don't have much place for Gomes, and Hernandez could benefit from fewer games perhaps. Agreed with you that I would like to think that if it was offered, Gomes would be in orange.

  15. Robert Rittner says:

    Your point about the overload in the outfield suggests to me that the Rays are going to deal one or more this off-season. I count 7, maybe 8, major-league ready outfielders. Crawford, Upton, Young, Gomes, Ruggiano, Snelling, Baldelli and possibly Pridie. I am not saying they are all good options, but none of them (maybe Pridie is an exception) has much to gain from another year of AAA ball. Of course, injuries can change things, but assuming 5 spots, that leaves 2-3 who will be wasted in TB. It would make sense to package 2 at least in a deal for a relief pitcher or shortstop or for some other need. It could be a major deal involving say Crawford and Gomes or a smaller one with 2 of the lesser names.

    I also think Balfour is almost certain to stick with the team. My picks for reasonably secure relievers are Reyes, Wheeler, Salas, & Balfour with the other 3 spots up for grabs. Again, off-season moves may change matters drastically, but assuming those 4 are not traded, I think they are on the team.

  16. Evan says:

    JP Howell should be given a role or at least a shot as well. I don't know if it was a small sample, but he was extremely impressive in the ~50 IP he threw, he just screwed by his D like the rest of the staff.

  17. Robert Rittner says:

    Even assuming that he was sabotaged by his defense, he gave up too many home runs which is not a defensive issue, and walked too many as well. Possibly he was trying to be too fine because he feared any fair ball, and his minor league control was much better, but I suspect the reason was that he cannot trust his mid-80s fastball to get batters out and so has to nibble.

    Still, his K rate was very good. He may be good in relief, perhaps used like Ramiro Mendoza was with the Yankees as a long man and 6th starter. My impression is that he can be effective once through the lineup but batters catch up to him after that. I don't think his status is as assured as that of Reyes for example, but he is a reasonable option to stick as a reliever.

  18. The Professor says:

    Howell is Jamie Moyer without the experience.

    Which is to say a lefty can win when he throws i the mid-80s but he needs to learn how to pitch at the major league level.

    Pitchers with great stuff (Jackson) can get by early in their career because they can blow people away even if they havent learned how to pitch yet. Pitchers like Howell dont have that luxury. The learning curve is the same, but soft-tossers need to learn it quicker.

    While the organization is thin in relief pitchers, there is some depth of AAAA starters that may not have the stuff to knock other out of the rotation and several of these types will get shots at the pen in spring training. this includes Howell, Ryu, maybe Hammel, Stokes, maybe Talbot.

  19. Evan says:

    I'm not convinced at all that Howell has a HR problem, his GB/FB is pretty good(about 1.5 to 1) and that's a much better indicator of future HR rate than whatever happened last year.

  20. Robert Rittner says:

    I agree, Evan, that the home run problem was probably an anomaly this year and also with the Professor about the problems of soft tossers. That is why I do not think Howell is a viable candidate for the rotation now but might be able to work effectively in the bullpen and perhaps develop into a starter later in his career. He is smart and has good movement on his pitches as well as good control in the minors. If his problem is learning how to overcome his limitations, regular work as a long reliever and spot starter might be the best way for him to work things out.

    It's worth noting that Moyer did not become a major leaguer permanently until he was 30 and did not become a consistent winning starter until he was 34. Even at age 32 and 33 he pitched out of the bullpen on occasion, actually in 13 of 23 appearances with Boston when he was 33 until he was dealt to Seattle and finished entirely as a starter starting his string of excellent years in the rotation.


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