This is an idea for a new running series I’d like to write at DRB, and I want your feedback on set-up, how often you’d like to see it, etc.
Basically the premise is: The Rays are a team the engender lots of questions, maybe more than any other team due to their unique roster construction, approach to the game, and the perpetual conversation regarding where they will be playing in X amount of years.
So each week (or let’s be honest, every couple weeks — life gets busy), we’ll come to you with some of the most burning Rays questions we have. Now, notice there is no promise of answers. That’s for two reasons. To presume to know the answers is silly, plus, leaving these (mostly) open-ended hopefully engages you readers to input even more voraciously in the comments section.
Again, please leave any feedback for this premise that you have in the comments below.
How is the infield going to shake out?
Right now, through 11 spring training games, the Rays have had 25 different players appear at an infield position, per Baseball Reference. Obviously, not all of these players are legitimate contenders for infield playing time come regular season (sorry, Jim Haley), but there are quite a few legitimate contenders all bustling for similar spots. Right now, a loose look at who could get playing time at each spot in the infield:
First Base — Ji-Man Choi, Jose Martinez, and Nate Lowe,
Second Base — Brandon Lowe, Joey Wendle, and Michael Brosseau
Short Stop —
Wander Franco Willy Adames and Daniel Robertson
Third Base — Yandy Diaz and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo
That’s 10 guys for four starting spots (five if we count DH, but having Meadows there most days would be helpful), and one has to imagine one if not two (and maybe even three) will not be on the Opening Day Roster. Right now, Bross and Wendle (and maybe NLowe) seem the most likely to be put to the sword, but with Lowe taking time at third, and Bross being able to play just about wherever, they are certainly helping their case.
When push comes to shove, Kevin Cash will undoubtedly make use of the infield depth by shifting pieces around like Magnus Carlsen, and there will also obviously be injuries in which case this depth is going to be a major plus. But for now, it makes for a challenge to decide who gets time when and where and making sure that those decisions are truly optimizing the roster to its fullest extent.
We know Tyler Glasnow’s ceiling is basically a Cy Young if healthy, but what is his floor?
This question came to me while watching his first outing of spring, an outing in which our own Dominik Vega noticed that the towering righty was still tipping his pitches a bit. Say that he isn’t quite able to fix that during the season, and teams are able to have some awareness of what’s coming. Will it even matter all that much? Who knows if the Blue Jays were privy to his tells, but they certainly weren’t hitting Glasnow, who allowed two hits while striking out three over 1.2 innings. Maybe this tell isn’t as obvious from home plate, and maybe it can get in a hitter’s head just as much to be trying to decipher the exact height of a pitcher’s glove instead of just going out and reacting and swinging.
Either way, it feels like Glasnow’s (non health related) floor is mighty high. If healthy the whole season, it’s hard to picture Glasnow putting up an ERA above somewhere around 3.75, and again, that’s the floor we’re talking about. His projections come in around 3.50, but one of the biggest weak spots in projections is when a player has clearly turned a corner, but there’s only a limited amount of time being inputted after that big change. This paragraph could come off looking like the greatest jinx of all time, but I truly feel that confident about Glasnow.
Other Lingering Questions
We’re all agreed to not worry about hitters (cough, Austin Meadows, cough) who look a little rusty in spring training, right? I truly mean this. (Especially since he hit a homer right after I wrote this.)
How much money is too much money to put on the Rays to win the AL East after this latest spat of Yankee injuries? And does betting my entire mortgage count as a jinx of sorts?
Who will Randy Arozarena mention first in his 2045 Hall of Fame induction speech?
Does the Rays depth put them in better position to outperform their projections than other teams? (Longer article on this coming)
From Darby: Is a JMart and Choi 1B platoon the most likable platoon in major league baseball history?
Who’s the next Ray to get a big-time extension, and how much (and how long) will it be for?
How long until Madison Lowe gets a coaching gig in MLB? (If the sport wasn’t full of cowards, the answer would be a week)
Am I intentionally burying a comment about Blake Snell’s injury all the way down here at the bottom of the article because I’m actually kind of worried about it?
From JT: How many Rays get to 600 PA this season?
From Nomo: How real is BLowe’s power?
What’re some of questions from y’all? And do you have any of the definitive answers to these questions? (No, no you don’t.)