What a couple of days for the Rays organization. 10 days ago the Rays signed Luke Scott as their primary DH, 8 days later the Rays anounced three minor league signings with Will Rhymes (2B/UT), Jesus Feliciano (CF) and Romulo Sanchez (RHRP) and yesterday Carlos Pena agreed to play another year on the Florida Gulf Coast.
After predicting the Bulls lineup a couple of weeks ago, I'm going to look at the influence of these last moves on the Bulls 2012 season. Therefore, I have to analyze the '12 Rays roster first. The Rays seem to start with Molina and Lobaton as the catching group (outside shot for Robinson Chirinos), with Pena, Longoria, Zobrist, Rodriguez and Brignac in the infield and with Jennings, Upton, Joyce and Scott in the outfield as well as at DH. This leaves two more spots open. Main candidates for these spots are Brandon Guyer (R/OF), Russ Canzler (R/1B/LF), Elliot Johnson (S/UT) and Will Rhymes (L/UT). Lets take a look at this:
The Rays have added Carlos Pena and Luke Scott. Both give excellent depth to the middle of the Rays lineup against RHP. Against LHP, especially Pena should get the one or other day off. And despite Zobrist/Longoria cruising against LHP even more than against RHP, the lineup against lefties lacks depth behind them. Luke Scott and Sean Rodriguez are solid options in order to round out the top 6, but Pena and Joyce are no solid options against lefties. Therefore, if I'm the Rays, I'd give one of the remaining two roster spots to a player who can hit left handed pitching well. If the Rays want Brandon Guyer to take a Matt Joyce-like path, they will start him in AAA in order to give him lots of AB's. Otherwise he should be (and I'd have him) on the Rays 25-man roster come opening day as he should get lots of PA's against LHP and also some against righties. Other options: Russ Canzler and maybe (with an outside shot) Juan Miranda. I could also see the Rays trading a SP for a RH-bat like Jesus Guzman, Kyle Blanks, ... .
The 2nd opening should go to a player who can bring the Rays some versatility, defensive backup and speed. Candidates: Sam Fuld, Elliot Johnson and Will Rhymes. I'd go with Sam Fuld as I think he is the best of those three. Sean Rodriguez gives the Rays enough flexibility for the defensive infield, making Elliot Johnson and Will Rhymes expandable. And while the same goes for Sam Fuld in the outfield, he is a solid baserunning and defensive replacement (especially for Matt Joyce) option for the innings 7 to 9. One of Johnson/Rhymes should be in the majors as soon as one infielder (not named Los Penos) gets hurt. The 13th position player won't see a ton of PA's, though.
So, I'd give the roster spots 24 and 25 to Brandon Guyer and Sam Fuld. This would leave Elliot Johnson, Justin Ruggiano (I expect both to clear waivers), Juan Miranda and Will Rhymes in Durham. The Bulls MIF should be crowded in this case with Tim Beckham, Cole Figueroa, Sean O'Malley, Johnson and Rhymes. They, therefore, should also rotate into the 3B and DH (maybe even some OF) role.