Welcome back to another exciting season of Rays Baseball folks hope you had a great offseason and are as excited as I am for a very exciting group of players we have the chance to call our Rays. We got everyone back basically said but let go of some key players of last year’s group. We let go if you haven’t been aware of Fernando Rodney has gone to Seattle, Alex Torres to San Diego, Kelly Johnson to the Yankees, the Wrights’ (Jamey to the Dodgers and Wesley to the Cubs), and most recently Jose Lobaton to Washington. Our additions to our squad include Grant Balfour, Heath Bell, Brad Boxberger, Nathan Karns, and Ryan Hanigan. The Rays managed to keep our players and improve the squad to the point in which a lot of the media is considering the Rays a contender. Honestly, I couldn’t be any more excited to see how this season turns out.
One big topic that is always talked about is the trade situation with David Price. I am not going to lie I was one of the believers that thought he was going to get traded this offseason but luckily Friedman didn’t trade him. I do not believe he will get traded this season unless something dramatic happens to the team and doesn’t perform to contend for a playoff spot. I honestly hope they find a way to keep him for the long run. Price does not want to leave Tampa Bay, he loves the environment, the people and what he has going on here.
I am going to give you my predicted 25 man roster in a depth chart format heading into the 2014 season.
Catcher- Ryan Hanigan
1st Base- James Loney
2nd Base- Ben Zobrist
3rd Base- Evan Longoria
Shortstop- Yunel Escobar
Left Field- David DeJesus
Center Field- Desmond Jennings
Right Field- Wil Myers
Designated Hitter- Matt Joyce
Bench- Jose Molina, Logan Forsythe, Sean Rodriguez
5 man rotation- David Price, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, and Erik Bedard
Closer- Grant Balfour
Setup Men- Jake McGee & Joel Peralta
Relievers- Brad Boxberger, Cesar Ramos, Heath Bell, Juan Carlos Oviedo
My big question is who will be the 25th man. I am very indecisive on that one. The candidates are RHP Jake Odorizzi, RHP Nate Karns, OF Brandon Guyer, RHP Josh Lueke, and OF Kevin Kiermaier.
Reasoning why they should be number 25
Odorizzi- Has some Major League experience already. He is 0-2 with a 4.14 ERA with 37.0 IP and 26 Ks. He is seen as a starting pitcher in the Rays eyes and can work very well in the rotation. Many people believe he is ready to be the number 5 starter for the team but I still have my doubts.
Karns- Nate has some Major League experience already with the Nationals. He pitched in 3 games for them with 12.0 IP, has a 7.50 ERA and 11 Ks. He has power stuff and can be the long right handed reliever for the team. If the Rays feel the need to have two long relievers instead of one then I can see them putting him on the team but for now he’s more likely to go to AAA.
Guyer- Brandon is due to be on the Rays squad. He has struggled in the big leagues but I feel like he has developed and should be ready to contribute as the 5th outfielder for the team behind Joyce being the Designated Hitter.
Lueke- Josh was someone fun to watch in my eyes when he got called up last season. He had miraculous numbers, he went 3-1 with a 0.63 ERA, pitched in 40 games, went 17 for 18 in save situations, .196 AVG, and 81 Ks. Awesome numbers needless to say but he may end up in AAA. If Heath Bell doesn’t live up to his expectations then I can see Lueke taking his spot in the bullpen.
Kiermaier- HOV or Kevin, whatever you want to call him. He has a great story if you haven’t read about it. Mr. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times has written one on one of his stories. He had a .992 fielding percentage in AAA last season and he got called up to play in Game 163 vs the Texas Rangers last season. I think he is favored over Guyer but I could be wrong. We will see what the Rays end up doing.
Bedard- I have Erik Bedard in the rotation just because of his experience and I think that he will be used as an innings eater until Hellickson comes back rather than having Odorizzi coming in and starting until Hellickson coming back.
Team MVP- Evan Longoria, I think this is his year that he will breakout. In my eyes, he hasn’t had that year but I surely think this year is the year.
Rookie of the Year- Jake Odorizzi. The top prospect of the Rays in my opinion will be the team’s ROY just because he will be able to play the most games out of all rookies and be able to contribute in a positive way for the team.
Underrated Player- Chris Archer, he will be much underrated in the sense that he won’t be talked about much. He will give the Rays a good amount of innings and will be able to mix up more his pitches. Plus having David Price still there as his mentor, that has really helped him grow more into what he wants to become, an elite Major League pitcher.
Wild Prediction- the Rays will go 96-66, not so much a wild prediction but many others would believe so.
*The Rays payroll this season has gone up to about $80 million, which is a team record.
Hope you all enjoy Spring Training and get ready for a spectacular 2014 Season. Can’t wait to keep writing Rays blogs for you all.
You can follow my Rays twitter account for daily tweets and team updates @RaysNation_
Until then, Take care.
I am an avid sports fan, and my favorite sport of all is baseball. Baseball is my true love and passion. The rays have become my favorite team for the dedications the organization has to become successful. All the players and coaches and executives of the organization are people I look up to and someday I hope to become a MLB general manager for any of the 30 teams. I hope everyone that reads my blog enjoys what's on it and if there are any questions, comments or concerns. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org