Jackson has finally been named as the 5th starter, and to be honest its been coming. Both he and JP Howell have had excellent springs (though the one game I saw Jackson pitch he was somewhat wild), and both of them had made a very strong case for why they should get the nod. However, in the end it likely came down to the fact that JP has minor league options left, and Edwin does not. Now I know that keeping Jackson with the big league team in the ‘pen was an option, but in truth he didn’t settle in that role last year, and had looked very good in the start he made early in the season. Plus, the feeling seems to be that Howell might need a little bit more heat on his fastball. In any case, I’m sure we’ll see him back at the Trop before too long.
Elsewhere, the Rays moved pitchers Scott Dohmann and Tim Corcoran to Durham. Corcoran’s demotion is a bit of a surprise, considering the solid year he had in 2006, but its pretty clear that the Rays want to keep both Al Reyes and Gary Glover in the ‘pen for opening day, so someone obviously has to miss out.
I’ve also been reading plenty of rumours that things could come down to either Jonny Gomes or Jorge Cantu for a roster spot. I’ve got one thing to say to that. Huh? As far as I’m concerned, the only way that they both shouldn’t be in the opening day lineup is if Cantu is traded between then and now. And I wouldn’t exactly be delighted about that in all probability.
Right now, the Rays have 15 position players still on the ‘Active’ Roster. That doesn’t include Raul Casanova and Dustan Mohr, who are still in camp covering for injuries. Now I assume that the team will go with 13 position players – meaning two guys will need to miss out. One of them will be, I assume, a catcher – either Josh Paul or Shawn Riggans. I would guess that Riggans will be sent back to Durham to start the year, which is a shame, because for my money he’s had the best spring of the two, and is probably the better player. In any case that means there’s just one more to be cut.
And that means the competition is between Jorge Cantu, Brendan Harris, Elijah Dukes and Jonny Gomes. Apparently. My personal choice would most likely be for Greg Norton to be the guy who misses out. Now I know that thats a terrible thing to say. Greg did wonders for us last year, had an absolute career season, but I just can’t see past one thing. Potential upside. Greg will be solid. I don’t doubt that for one second. But he won’t excite me. He won’t do something that nobody else can do. And that you see is my problem.
Jorge Cantu will. He had an off year with injuries in 2006, but I can’t see past that 2005. Team record RBIs, and general awesome offense. Plus the option with BJ Upton around to play him DH plenty of the time. Brendan Harris has had a terrific spring, and probably deserves to make the team. He offers great flexibility around the infield, and helps keep BJ away from third base and shortstop. That though is also what counts against him. Why would you want a Brendan Harris taking time away from a BJ Upton? Put it this way, I won’t mind at all if Harris makes the team. But I won’t be heartbroken if he doesn’t. Elijah Dukes – what can be said? The best potential of the four, bar none. But do we really need him enough to cost one of the others a place? My heart says yes, but my head says no. Truth is, I want to see him play. But he won’t do, in all probability, not enough at least to make it worthwhile.
And then there’s Jonny. Whenever I mention the man, I feel I should declare an interest before making my opinions known. Sure, if I could only choose to watch one D-Ray play, then it’d be CC. But if I had to choose one to play for me, Jonny would get the nod every time. The guy just flat out wants to play. And for a team that could boast Upton, Young and Dukes on the roster, a bit of positive attitude wouldn’t go amiss. And then there’s the hitting. Oh, the hitting. It is flat out fun. Add to that the fact that he’s got a healthy shoulder again, and is a far better corner outfielder than I think most people realise, and Jonny makes the team. Every time.
But, as always, we shall see. I assume more cuts are coming as soon as Rocco, Dioner Navarro and Josh Paul are passed fit. Could be interesting. I know the way I would go, somehow I doubt the Rays management are thinking quite the same way…