The first game for the Bulls is just a week away and after a couple of recent moves things are looking, mostly, pretty clear. For example, recently the Rays released Jack Cust, whom we’d been worried about, and sent a bunch of guys to minor league camp. Then one of those guys, Dane De La Rosa, got traded off. So here’s some speculation regarding position players. Players marked with an asterisk are on the Rays 40-man roster
Chris Gimenez*, Robinson Chirinos*, Steven Vogt*
- We saw a good bit of Gimenez last year and like him a lot. Some reports imply that he is actually a better catcher than Jose Lobaton, the Rays #2 catcher, and that he’s only in Durham because of how the business of baseball works. We’re happy to have him here. His numbers as a Bull last year are very impressive. Also, don’t be surprised to see him playing other positions.
- Robinson Chirinos hasn’t worn a Bulls uniform since 2011. His year away from the game on the disabled list has left a bunch of question marks. At 29 he is running out of time.
- We’ve seen a lot of Steven Vogt and we like him. Catcher, outfielder, first baseman, he’s been snakebit at bat for the Rays, but not for the Bulls.
- The catcher missing from the roster is Craig Albernaz. This very durable young guy recently got his first hit after a bunch of major league spring training camps. Expect him to be sent to wherever the Rays think young pitchers need some help. Still probably the best arm and release time of any catcher in the Rays system. I hope we get a chance to see him at work here in Durham this year.
- Overall, the Bulls should be solid behind the plate this year, until problems erupt in St. Petersburg.
Cole Figueroa, Tim Beckham*, Hak-Ju Lee*, Mike Fontenot, Leslie Anderson, Shelley Duncan, Shawn O’Malley.
- This list implies that the Rays are pretty satisfied with their infield lineup, since only two players are on the 40-man. Not sure I agree with that assessment, but then this isn’t a Rays blog. Nor am I sure that O’Malley with start with the Bulls this season. Hope so, I like watching him play.
- Cole Figueroa is simply a real pro. A very important part of the 2012 Bulls and, as far as I can tell, the only experienced third baseman on the roster. That worries me that we have only one.
- We’re familiar with Tim Beckham. Looks like he may be moving over to 2B to give newcomer Hak-Ju Lee some time at shortstop.
- Mike Fontenot is a newcomer to the Bulls. Good reputation.
- We all know Leslie Anderson. He had a great spring with the Rays, but not enough to get him onto the 40-man. Expect to see him spend time at 1B, left field, and DH this year.
- Shelley Duncan brings some serious power to the Bulls. He stuck with the Rays all spring long, but just couldn’t crack the 40-man. 1B, DH.
- Shawn O’Malley is a fast, quick-handed infielder. Terrific baserunner. Hope he can stick with the Bulls.
Wil Myers, Brandon Guyer*, Jason Bourgeois, Rich Thompson
- Wil Myers is the up-and-coming star prospect in the Rays season. A good reason to catch a couple of games early on, because he probably won’t be with the Bulls very long.
- Brandon Guyer is coming back from injury. He had a terrific 2011 with the Bulls. He is major league quality player.
- Rich Thompson is one terrific ballplayer who can’t quite seem to stick in the majors. Great to have him back with the Bulls.
- Jason Bourgeois has a lot of major league time (222 games). Not quite sure how he fits with either the Rays or the Bulls. We’ll have to see.
Basic arithmetic says I’ve got something wrong here since the Bulls usually carry no more than 13 position players and I’ve got 14 on this list.
That won’t stop me from commenting, of course.
This looks really, really good. There’s power, gap hitting, lots of speed, good arms in the outfield, and a terrific-looking “diamond” — catcher, 2B, SS, CF. I’m modestly concerned about 3B, but otherwise the gloves look good.