Every year in January I predict the players that will appear on the roster - the past few years I have had the good fortune to get more right than wrong! Time to check in again....
Its not an exact science, nor a completely occult divination. More a blend of the two and a consideration of what players should advance against what each team needs to fill its positional requirements.
Our team was pretty good last year, and many of the positions are set at the Major league level, as well as in Durham. From that one would guess that we would see several returning players, guys like mahtook and sexton.
Also, a couple guys return from injury will get a chance to play where they left off, if not opening day soon afterwards. Velazquez and Nommensen both lost time to the DL and have an opportunity to show their ability in a fresh campaign.
SS Dietrich 2b-ss
2b Price 2b-3b-of
util Tinoco 1b-2b-3b-of
C's - tough to predict the rays at this position sometimes
Albernaz - if not opening day at some point after, the question will be how many times we need him to pitch!
Pitchers - always tough to predict, but could be a bunch of the usual faces
Dyer or Paduch, both were hammered at Durham and could be sent back to AA
RP - the pen had its ups and downs last year, hard to say who fits until spring training
Montgomery -might be the first time the biscuits have had the word "montgomery" appear on their uniforms, could drive up the price at the jersey auction?
Nevarez - is he still with the Rays?
Patterson - lefty
Geith - lefty
Will Alex return or move to Durham & woo triple-A chicks?
I have hopes that the Rays will sign us another Garko type guy to DH and help season our players as well as pad the roster with runs driven in. I think its too much to ask Ryan to come back here, at the very least he deserves to log his at bats in Durham.
Mike Montgomery will open the year at Montgomery, he came over in the deal that sent former-skit James Shields to KC. Should be nice to watch him while he is here, even if that isnt likely to be very long at all. A strong spring training could mean we miss seeing him entirely.
A really bad spring outing from Roberto Hernandez-formerly Fausto Carmona - could mean we get a former big leaguer on the pitching staff, though thats a long shot given how much the Rays pay him. 3.25 million bucks including bonus money for being healthy and using his real name.
Even harder to predict is the Coaching assignments for the Rays organization. Its easy to expect Billy Gardner back, but conventional wisdom says that a double A manager doesnt stay so long in one city. Like the players, he is ready for advancement and likely a little burned out on life in Montgomery. Not that its bad, just that he may be ready to take on new challenges.
A manager change would likely open the door to Jim Morrison or another lower level manager to advance up the coaching ladder. Most have performed their duties well at the levels just below the Biscuits, and would be in line for a promotion. Another choice would be a new hire, though its tough to see that when they have had such a low turnover of coaches in the system.
My guess, Billy and Ozzie Timmons return for one last roundup in Mgm and bring a new pitching coach along. If its not that, then I suspect the Charlotte staff would be brought up to Montgomery.
Any day now I expect to learn where some of my fave players will land, though it has been known to happen that it takes until just ahead or even just after the start of spring training. When guys like Craig Albernaz start signing, you know teams have decided on their strategy for the coming season!
Where will Brent "El Trotamundo" Leach pitch this season? After spending last year with the Braves organization he could end up making another run in the far east, a return to Japan would be a good opportunity for both pitcher and organization.
Will Clay Zavada return? The wildman of Streator with the inspirational handlebar moustache has been out of the game since being cut by the Reds last spring. Turning 28 during this season, the former Dbax lefty could be called to leave his ranch long enough for one more roundup.
Where will Matt Fields play? Matty had to take a stab at independent ball until getting an offer from the Royals. He hit .281 with 17 homers and gobbled up High A+ pitching, Im sure he will move up or get another chance elsewhere. Switch hitting 1b guys with good leather and great demeanor are always popular!