Thanks for being patient, dear readers. Here’s part two of the piece we started yesterday.
As we noted before (http://tampabayrays.co/?p=5410), the addition of Kelly Johnson tends to stabilize things a bit, giving Joe Maddon more flexibility with his lineup by allowing Ben Zobrist the opportunity to play in right-field regularly. I’d expect Kelly Johnson and Ryan Roberts to platoon second base, Yunel Escobar to be the primary short-stop, and Sean Rodriguez to be the utility infielder. It will be interesting to see how Maddon will utilize Luke Scott.
Scott noted that he’s able to throw between 250-270 feet, and it would be reasonable to assume that he might spend some time in the outfield, perhaps in left. There’s also the thought that he could see some time at first base, along with James Loney. The Rays did not get the right handed power hitting 1B/OF that they were seeking, which leads me to believe that Loney will be the primary first-baseman. However if Loney’s splits (.257 BA/.305 OBP/.357 SLG/.662 OPS vs RHP, .217 BA/.247 OBP/.261 SLG/.508 OPS vs LHP) are indicative of anything, it’s that his struggles against left handed pitching may find him platooning first base with someone already in the Rays organization. We are well aware of Scott’s lack of success against LHP in 2012. I can’t imagine that Maddon would regularly platoon Loney with another player that has worse splits against LHP. This leads me to believe that one of the Spring Training invites (Leslie Anderson?) may get a spot on the 2013 roster. I’d also be interested in seeing if Maddon may try to use Sean Rodriguez at first base from time to time.
The Kelly Johnson acquisition not only shored up the infield, but it gave us a clearer picture of what the outfield may look like in 2013. It’s been widely speculated that Ben Zobrist will hold down the fort in right-field, while Desmond Jennings makes the transition to center-field, and Matt Joyce platoons in right-field with Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer. The right-field and left-field positions will be in flux depending on a couple of variables; who may be the mound and whether BenZo will get playing time in the middle infield. Whatever the case, BenZo will more than likely be an everyday player regardless of where.
A couple of other questions have crept up; where will Wil Myers start the season, and at what position?
It’s been assumed that the highly touted prospect will start the year in Triple-A. Myers has a few kinks to work out at the plate, and a few months in Durham could suit him well. It has been speculated that Myers will be called up either just before the All-Star Break, or just after. Back in December Joe Maddon was quoted as saying,
I’ve always felt that it should be easier for a young player to make the team season in progress as opposed to out of spring training,” and “When they make the team out of spring training expectations get raised even higher, and I think if you’re really looking for a young man to apply pressure to himself it’s then, when he makes it out of camp and Opening Day comes and all the stuff is being written and it’s tough.
In an MLB.com piece Myers was quoted as saying that he,
Would get some more time to work on his center-field defense — his favorite position, though he’d be fine playing a corner spot if asked — and take some more Minor League at-bats, all part of the development process the Rays believe in so strongly.
If Myers is to spend the second half of the season in center-field, I’d imagine that Desmond Jennings would transition back to left-field, and something would have to be worked out in right. But too much OF depth is a much better problem to deal with than not enough. And that’s something that we, presumably, wouldn’t need to worry about for another four-to-five months.
- According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, the Rays will be the first team to face the harshest penalties for exceeding their bonus pool set forth in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Badler noted,
The CBA limited every team to a $2.9 million bonus pool for the 2012-13 international signing period that began on July 2. The strongest penalty in the CBA is that any team that exceeds its international bonus pool by 15 percent or more will pay a 100 percent tax on the overage and won’t be able to sign a player for more than $250,000 during the 2013-14 signing period. Since July 2, the Rays already have spent more than $3.7 million (not counting players signed for $50,000 or less, since there are exemptions for those players), which is 28 percent beyond their international pool,
As a result, the Rays won’t be able to sign anyone next year for more than $250,000 and probably won’t make any major international splashes until July 2 either because of the tax.
- Tampa Bay Times Staff writers Stephen Nohlgren and Mark Puente wrote an interesting piece titled “Who’s at the Trop?” which made the front page of Sunday’s paper. The article was based on an unscientific study which mentions the names of the major movers and shakers (both companies and notable individuals) in the bay area who may or may not have season ticket packages. I’ve got to commend them for calling attention to the matter of the lack of corporate support of the Rays. I must say though, their lack of tenacity in trying to figure out why the Rays may or may not be pandering to many of the local companies and corporations was a tad narrow sighted. After all, it is the Rays responsibility to seek corporate sponsorship, not the companies themselves.