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

Not a lot has happened in recent weeks concerning the Tampa Bay Rays 2008 25-man roster and regular lineup. The only significant addition was Mike DiFelice who, if the season started today, would most likely be the back-up catcher. The team would still like to make a few more minor additions, including a left-handed reliever, a left-handed hitting utility infielder, and possibly an upgrade over DiFelice.

If the season started today, this is how we feel the 25-man roster and most-days lineup would shake-out. Notes on specific positions can be found below…


  • Some seem to think the Rays are leaning towards starting Evan Longoria in AAA. We have already made our feelings known on this matter. Our guess is that the team is trying to deflect some off-season pressure and will still give The Dirtbag the nod on opening day.
  • We don’t see any threats to Ben Zobrist for super-utility guy. As it stands he is the only available left handed bat off the bench (he is a switch-hitter).
  • Not sure team is sold on Joel Guzman on the bench. Team may prefer a cheap veteran free agent with good positional flexibility. Left-handed is a bonus. But Guzman has an edge as he can play both corner positions and the outfield.
  • Mike DiFelice is only a non-roster invitee at this point, but it is no secret the team wants a veteran signal-caller to back-up Dioner Navarro, and there are no other options in -house.
  • With talk of trading Edwin Jackson (not likely) and rumors of a move to the bullpen (possible) it may be that Andy Sonnanstine has a firmer grasp on his spot in the rotation. The final spot may come down to a battle between Jackson and Jason Hammel. Both are out options, so the loser moves to the bullpen to be a long-reliever.
  • Still waiting for the Rays to sign a lefty reliever. Until then, Kurt Birkins is the guy, although a strong spring by Jeff Ridgway would make the Rays think twice.
  • Final two spot in the bullpen will be a battle between Gary Glover, Scott Dohmann and Juan Salas. Salas is the only one with an option left. Glover was actually pretty decent in 2007 and Dohmann was strong down the stretch. Maddon always speaks highly of Glover and Dohmann and rarely mentions Salas. Of course, Maddon always spoke highly of Jae Seo also. Our best guess is that Glover is pretty close to being a lock, with the final spot coming down to Dohmann and Salas. Flip a coin at this point.


  1. Devil Ray Guevara says:

    the Rays would be smart to trade Reyes now before he blows up.

    Not sure about Duke vs Nuke and who has a stronger hold on their rotation spot. I do think they both have the edge, BUT i think others (Hammel, Niemann, Talbot, Howell) will br given every opportunity to win those spots in ST.

    I really think this is the year we start seeing decisions made on performance rather than potential.

  2. Sean G says:

    i think there is a good chance Longoria starts the season in Durham for two big reasons.

    1) to give Guzman a shot and hope he succeeds and move him in a trade before July 31

    2) If the Dirtbag stays in Durham long enough, it would delay his free agency an entire year. that way the Rays in essence get 6.5 years of Longoria before free agency instead of 6.

  3. Kevin from Future Considerations says:

    Longoria might be on the Ryan Braun plan, which would, as noted, get us an extra half year of Longoria. I'd like to see what Guzman can do anyway(this is my "I'm slowly resigning myself to the fact that they'll start Longo at AAA" face. How do you like it?).

    I think Jeff Niemann is a rotation and bullpen candidate. I know he's had his share of injuries, but he'll be 25 on Opening Day.

  4. The Professor says:

    you are both right..i'm still in denial...but i am starting to lean towards a Dirtbag in Durham scenario

  5. EricSanSan says:

    I think Neimann is definitely a darkhorse to claim the fifth spot. While he might not be the arm we hoped for when we drafted him, he seem to put it together somewhat last season in Triple-A.

  6. The Professor says:

    Niemann is starting to remind me more and more of Aaron Heilman. He could be destined to be the 7th/8th inning pitcher that is just not quite good enough to be in the rotation.

  7. EricSanSan says:

    You could be right professor. My only hope is that now he seems to be healthy and in a routine, something that hasn't happened frankly since he left Rice.

    Maybe that can help his arm regain some of the status we expected. Aaron Heilman was a first rounder too (around 18th I think) so that comp could be right on. I just hope that one day the dominant starter from Rice will show up....probably just wishful thinking.

  8. Anonymous says:

    umm what about Grant Balfour? The rays already agreed to terms with him and he's better than Dohmann and Balfour. Of Balfour, Glover, Dohmann, and Salas, the best two pitchers are Balfour and Salas. However, the rays have much more to take into consideration.

  9. The Professor says:

    Balfour's deal had a minor league provision in it, which (this is a guess) i think means he can be sent to the minors even though he is out of options.

    Balfour can be very good and he can be very bad. i think the minor league provision in his contract hints that they see him in Durham to start the season to give him some time to work on a few things.

  10. Tim says:

    What is the consensus here - have the Rays given up on J.P. Howell? His results were awful but his peripherals weren't that bad - unlucky or sucky? What say ye?

  11. Robert Rittner says:

    A good question Tim. In my view, they haven't given up on him, and his spring training performance may land him a roster spot. But there is a serious numbers problem-problem being a good thing here. Assuming that spots 1-3 in the rotation are set, there are at least 10 candidates for the remaining two spots, candidates who are ready now or will be within 2 years. (Jackson, Sonnanstine, Howell, Hammel, Niemann, Talbot, McGee, Davis, Price, Mason) And that is assuming that Hellickson does not advance very quickly or that some of the other starters do not emerge (Houser?)

    Naturally, some will flop. Some may find a spot in the bullpen. But even if we think that the top 3 spots are not definitely secure (injury, trade, slump?), that is a lot of reasonable hope for a few spots. So I am guessing that a number of these players will be dealt for useful pieces elsewhere (utility infielder, reserve outfielder or catcher, relievers, other prospects, maybe an upgrade at some position). And Howell is one possibility to go.

    Of course, he may simply be released, but my reading of the Rays' management is that they do not squander talent, no matter how minor it is. They seem always to get something (for Branyan, as an example), and my guess is that Howell may bring at least a deep minors prospect or perhaps be part of a larger package to bring a major leaguer.

  12. The Professor says:

    I have always compared Howell to Jamie Moyer. Moyer took a long time to get going in his career.

    the problem is Howell doesnt have the "stuff" to get him by when he isnt perfect.

    a veteran pitcher knows how to win games even when they are not on top of their game and even if they dont throw 95.

    compare that to a guy like Edwin Jackson. Jackson has more room for error early in his career even though he has ZERO idea how to pitch. Why? because he throws 98, and when it comes down to it, he can just try and blow someone away. Howell doesnt have that luxury.

    I think a lot of people think Howell WILL be good, but he isnt good enough yet to be a starting pitcher. His best bet at the major league level for a couple of years is probably out of the 'pen. He will definitely get a shot at both in spring training, but i think his best bet is to try and beat out Glover, Dohmann or Salas. I dont think he is consistent enough against left handers to be the Rays left-handed specialist.

  13. Tim says:

    Ask and ye shall receive. Thanks, guys.


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