Tampa Bay Rays 2010 ALDS Playoff Roster Construction | The Process Report

Tampa Bay Rays 2010 ALDS Playoff Roster Construction

By Tommy Rancel //

During the Rays’ celebration on Tuesday night, Andrew Friedman finally got a break. While the trade deadline and September call-ups are long past, Friedman has no-doubt spent countless hours with his staff and Joe Maddon deciding on who will be on the Rays’ 25-man roster for the American League Divisional Series.

Instead of us speculating on all of the names (that’s for the professionals to do), let’s look at the potential ways the team could construct the roster.

Though the names remain unknown, we do know the Rays will go with four starters. We also know they will not carry 12 pitchers as they have all season. This means the staff is either 10 or 11 deep with a bench of five or six players.

The first scenario we have is: a four-man rotation, a seven-man bullpen, and a five-man bench. It’s almost a given that David Price, James Shields, and Matt Garza will assume the top three spots in the rotation (in that order). It’s also safe to assume that Rafael Soriano, Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour, and Randy Choate will have four of the bullpen spots. This leaves one rotation spot for Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis and three spots in the bullpen.

The pitching questions here are: do you put the “loser” of the rotation battle in the bullpen and two regular relievers? Or do you go with a traditional trio of relievers like Chad Qualls, Dan Wheeler, and Jake McGee and keep the starter off the roster altogether?

As for the bench, the Rays would have a few. They will likely keep only one of Dan Johnson or Brad Hawpe as the DH vs. RHP. Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac, and Kelly Shoppach are platoon starters so they would occupy three of the five spots when they don’t start (you could sub John Jaso and Matt Joyce for Rodriguez and Shoppach as either opponent should throw a lefty in game 1).

From here, you have a few options. You can have Willy Aybar as an extra infielder/switch-hitter on the bench and either Rocco Baldelli or Desmond Jennings as an extra outfielder. You can carry both outfielders and use Baldelli vs. left-handed pitching, and Jennings as Fernando Perez ’08. Although neither Baldelli nor Jennings was active on September 1, the two roster exemptions from Gabe Kapler and Jose Lobaton make it possible.

A few final scenarios would be carrying one of the names above and Dioner Navarro as your late-inning defensive replacement at catcher or keeping the other of Hawpe and Johnson plus one other player.

The other scenario is going with a four-man rotation, a six-man bullpen, and a six-man bench. Although this may seem unlikely, it could happen, and did happen for the Rays in 2008. In this situation you would have the same top four relievers, but only two spots for Qualls, Wheeler, McGee, or the starter left out of the rotation. Remember there are more days off in playoffs so the same relievers can work more.

From a bench standpoint, you could do almost anything you wanted here. Carry a third catcher? Sure. Keep Rocco with Jennings as his caddy? Sounds good. Keep Aybar plus the two outfielders? Go ahead.

While Maddon has said he has figured out his four starters, the Rays are still toying with all the scenarios mentioned above. Over the next few days Team Friedman will have to make several difficult choices; however, like their opponent, the results of those decisions are to be determined. Enjoy the process.

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