GM for the Day: Tampa Bay Rays

Losing the greatest player in their brief history, Carl Crawford (arguably), was supposed to lead the Rays back to the basement in 2011.  Instead, they swiped the Wild Card from the floundering Red Sox on the last day of the season and lost in the ALDS to the AL pennant-winning Rangers, finishing 91-71 for their 4th straight winning season.  The Rays managed to keep their General Manager, Andrew Friedman, who has developed an incredible system of winning from within.  With graduates from the system like Matt Moore and Desmond Jennings joining the squad for a full season in 2012, it’s easy to see why the Rays are a team that is built to win now and in the future.  Here is a look at their current roster:

2 Catchers: Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton

1B: Carlos Pena

2B: Ben Zobrist

3B: Evan Longoria

SS: Sean Rodriguez

LF: Desmond Jennings

CF: B.J. Upton

RF: Matt Joyce

DH: Luke Scott

Bench: Sam Fuld (OF), Reid Brignac (2B/SS), Jeff Keppinger (INF)

Starting Pitchers: David Price, James Shields, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, and Jeff Niemann

Relief Pitchers: Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, J.P. Howell, Jake McGee, Juan Cruz, Andy Sonnanstine, and Fernando Rodney

In an effort to save payroll, the Rays have been shopping B.J. Upton for what feels like forever.  They should hold tight on him for 2012, as they don’t have any other prospects coming up to push him, as Jennings can man left for another season before taking over center if Upton leaves via Free Agency in 2013.  If they feel that it is necessary to move him, they could move Jennings to center, Zobrist to right, Joyce to left, and make Keppinger their everyday second baseman, which isn’t very pretty.  They could also move Rodriguez to second and start Brignac at short, hoping he isn’t as awful as he was in 2011.  They DO, however, need to do something about their catching situation.  Molina isn’t the answer there.  They let Kelly Shoppach go and they have some questions as backups.

Rumors have been all over about the Reds dealing catching depth to the Rays, but after letting Ramon Hernandez walk and dealing prospect Yasmani Grandal to San Diego, they aren’t as deep there as they once were.  For the Reds sake, though, (and especially their fans), they could deal Ryan Hanigan to Tampa, along with a solid arm or outfielder (like Daniel Corcino or Yorman Rodriguez) for Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann, preferably Niemann as Davis is locked up to a nice deal.  It would help both teams and the Reds could let Devin Mesoraco play catcher for about 120 games to see what they have there, which is apparently something special, while grabbing a veteran to handle the 1-2 games per week he would need off.  The Rays have enough pitching depth, as Alex Cobb and Davis look like they’ll either be long relief guys or Triple-A depth as it stands now, while they’d get stronger offensively at catcher by grabbing Hanigan.  At this point, making trades is about all that they are going to get value out of, as remaining Free Agents are not looking pretty.  Outside of catcher, the Rays look set.  Mikie Mahtook may need until mid-2013 before taking over in left, and the Rays have Moore, Alex Torres, Alex Colome, Chris Archer, and Taylor Guerrieri as top-level pitching prospects, so they aren’t going away anytime soon.

After dealing for Ryan Hanigan, this would be their 25-man roster:

2 Catchers: Ryan Hanigan and Jose Molina

1B: Carlos Pena

2B: Ben Zobrist

3B: Evan Longoria

SS: Sean Rodriguez

LF: Desmond Jennings

CF: B.J. Upton

RF: Matt Joyce

DH: Luke Scott

Bench: Sam Fuld (OF), Reid Brignac (2B/SS), Jeff Keppinger (INF)

Starting Pitchers: David Price, James Shields, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, and Wade Davis

Relief Pitchers: Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, J.P. Howell, Jake McGee, Juan Cruz, Andy Sonnanstine, and Fernando Rodney

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