Where the Rays should go from here


Ok, so I was thinking, and I thought up a few moves the Rays could make to finish off the roster, and could potentially put the Rays back into the picture for 2011.

As of now, the current Opening Day roster stands at:

Rotation: 1. David Price
2. Matt Garza 3. Wade Davis 4. James Shields 5. Jeff Niemann Bullpen: Closer: Jake McGee Setup: Adam Russell ROOGY: Joel Peralta LOOGY: RJ Swindle Middle Relief: Mike Ekstrom Middle Relief: Cesar Cabral/ Cesar Ramos Long Relief: Andy Sonnanstine

Lineup: C- John Jaso
1st- Dan Johnson/ Leslie Anderson
2nd- Sean Rodriguez
SS- Reid Brignac
3rd- Evan Longoria
LF- Ben Zobrist
CF- BJ Upton
RF- Matt Joyce
DH- Leslie Anderson/ Justin Ruggiano/ Dan Johnson/ ?

Bench: Utility Player- Elliot Johnson
Backup Infielder- Leslie Anderson/ Dan Johnson/ ?
Backup Outfielder- Desmond Jennings
Backup Catcher- Kelly Shoppach

With that in mind, I believe the Rays should make the following deals/trades:

1. Deal Shields or Garza for prospects and/or relief pitching.

Now this one is optional. Due to the situation the Rays are in, they don't necessarily have to move a starting pitcher, but if they did, Garza or Shields are the best option. Some possible deals could include:

1.Garza/Shields to the Cubs for Andrew Cashner+
2.Garza/Shields+ to the National for Tyler Clippard,Drew Storen+
3.Garza/Shields to the Rangers for Mitch Moreland+
4. Garza/Shields to the Mets for Lucas Duda, Bobby Parnell+

As stated before, the Rays don't have to trade either of them, this is just what they should get if they did.


2. Trade prospects to the Pirates for either Evan Meek or Joel Hanrahan.

This one is a bit more necessary. A couple of pitching prospects would probably do the trick, maybe Kyle Lobstein and someone else? Mind you, I can't be sure how well they would do in the AL East, but Hanrahan, and to a degree Meek, have put up similar numbers to last year before, so their upside compared to some relievers is pretty good , and even if they don't match those numbers with the Rays, they should fair fairly well, and the cost for them shouldn't really affect the Rays too much.

3. Resign Grant Balfour to a 3-year deal worth 13.5 million (3.5 mil., 4 mil., and 5 mil.) with an option year for 5.5 mil. with a chance to close.

Again, this is a necessary deal the Rays should try to make. As before, Balfour has had similar success to last year before, and even with some regression, is definitely worth the cost. Balfour would bring veteran experience to the back-end of the bullpen, and at a fairly reasonable cost. Plus, most teams would not give Grant the chance of winning the closers job, so he would probably take this job over other, similar offers, if he gets any. The years  maybe a little much, but they probably be necessary for him to sign, and should be worth it.

4. Sign either Vladimir Guerrero or Jim Thome to a 1-year deal worth 7 million with an option year for 8 mil.

If the Rays want to compete next year, this is a necessity. With Pena and Crawford leaving, Thome and Guerrero are the Rays most reliable bets to replace that power and give Evan some lineup protection. Plus, they can mentor some of the younger players, provide leadership, and have a good clubhouse presence, things guys like Glaus, Ramirez, Branyan, etc. wouldn't be able to provide as well. The option year is included mainly because I would rather the Rays not have to try to resign them in 2012, during which the Rays stand a better chance of competing, and so would benefit from having one of those two in the DH spot.

5. Sign Jon Rauch to a 1-year deal worth 3.5 mil. with an option year for 4 mil. with a chance to close

I have heard Rauch's name flown around a bit and he seems to be on most Rays fans's wish lists. However, this deal would only be able to happen if deal #1 went through as well, since without that, the payroll wouldgo over 50 million. As with Balfour, Rauch would bring veteran experience to the back-end of the Rays bullpen, and since he also would be offered the chance to compete for the closer's job, that would make him more likely to sign with the Rays than with another team with a closer.

6. Call up Justin Ruggiano for the LF job.

All right, this isn't what is expected to happen, but is what should happen for the following reasons:

1. Ben Zobrist is no longer tied down at one position, and can resume his job as Super Utility player, which is what he likes best, and is best at.

2. Allows Desmond Jennings to be eased into the major leagues, so by probably the All-Star break, Jennings can take over fulltime.

3. Ruggiano has worked his butt off in the minors, and it is about time he gets the chance to succeed at the major league level.

With all of these moves taken into account, the new Rays roster ( with deal #s 1 & 5) would look like this:

Rotation: 1. David Price
              2. Wade Davis/ Matt Garza
              3. Jeremy Hellickson
              4. Wade Davis/ James Shields
              5. Jeff Niemann

Bullpen: Closer: The winner between Rauch and Balfour
             Setup: The loser from above contest
             ROOGY: Joel Peralta
             LOOGY: Jake McGee
             Middle Relief:Competition between Ramos, Thayer, Cabral, Ekstrom, Russell, Clippard/Storen/Cashner/Parnell, Swindle etc.
             Middle Relief: Evan Meek/ Joel Hanrahan
             Long Relief: Andy Sonnanstine

Lineup: C- John Jaso
            1st- Spring Training Competition between Anderson and Johnson
            2nd- Sean Rodriguez
            SS- Reid Brignac
            3rd- Evan Longoria
            LF- Justin Ruggiano
            CF- BJ Upton
            RF Matt Joyce
            DH- Vladimir Guerrero/ Jim Thome

Bench: Utility Player- Ben Zobrist
           Backup Infielder- Elliot Johnson
           Backup Outfielder- Desmond Jennings
           Backup Catcher- Kelly Shoppach

This also doesn't take into account possible trades involving guys like Thayer, Fernando Perez, etc.With this roster, in my opinion, the Rays are capable of atleast contending for the AL East title and/or the wildcard, both now, and in the near future, all with a payroll that would sit at about 48.15 million, give or take about 3/4 of a million. Thoughts?

This post was written by a member of the DRaysBay community and does not necessarily express the views or opinions of DRaysBay staff.

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