This past July, the Rays didn't just acquire a potential contributing player, but one with a great nickname in Ryan Roberts, aka 'TatMan'. But the question now is going to be where he fits in. Every position for the Rays is essentially filled with the recent signings of RHP Kyle Farnsworth, DH Luke Scott, and the surprise signing of 2B Kelly Johnson. This begs an obvious question: how will all the pieces come together? What will the lineup look like on a daily basis? Obviously different match-ups against right handed or left handed pitchers and/or playing in an NL park during inter-league play would be another topic all together. But with each position pretty much accounted for where exactly does Ryan Roberts fit?
As it stands now with the signing of Kelly Johnson, Roberts is looking like the potential odd man out for a position on the diamond and full time at-bats. Almost every position is definitely filled: Evan Longoria will be at third base, Yunel Escobar will be the shortstop, Desmond Jennings will be in centerfield, Matt Joyce will hold down a corner outfield spot, Luke Scott will DH, James Loney will be at first base against right-handed pitching, and Jose Molina and either Jose Lobaton or Chris Gimenez will do the catching. What's left is second base, left field, and first base against right-handed pitching, and those should be filled by Ben Zobrist at second base and Johnson playing left field despite not having played the position in the major leagues since 2005 or alternatively Zobrist in right field, Johnson at second base, and Matt Joyce in left field. What's left unoccupied among what we have listed is first base against left-handed pitching, where Ryan Roberts, a right-handed hitter, could fit in, but he has never played first base in the major leagues, although he did play there 9 times at Triple-A back in 2007. But Roberts won't actually have to play first base thanks to the versatility of Johnson and Ben Zobrist. When Loney leaves the lineup, the Rays can slide say Zobrist to first base and put Roberts at second base. Although it seems like a waste of Zobrist's defensive abilities to put him at first base, Roberts has proven himself to be a plus defender at second base, so the drop-off from him to Roberts would not be so significant, and there are certainly worse things than having the sure-handed Zobrist at first base.
Where Will The Rays Put Their "Tat", Ryan Roberts?
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