First of our weekly semi-educated guesses at the makeup of the 25-man opening day roster, projecting that Jake Odorizzi and Denard Span will be traded:
PITCHERS (12): Jose Alvarado, Matt Andriese, Chris Archer, Alex Colome, Nathan Eovaldi, Jake Faria, Dan Jennings, Dustin McGowan-x, Chaz Roe, Sergio Romo, Blake Snell, Ryne Stanek
CATCHERS (2): Wilson Ramos, Jesus Sucre
INFIELDERS: (7): Matt Duffy, Adeiny Hechavarria, Micah Johnson-x, Brad Miller, Daniel Robertson, Joey Wendle, 1B TBA (To Be Acquired)
OUTFIELDERS (4): Corey Dickerson, Kevin Kiermaier, Mallex Smith, Steven Souza Jr.
x- has to be added to 40-man roster
There was a lot made, locally and nationally, of the Valentine's Day comments made by Rays top starter Chris Archer and top prospect Brent Honeywell which didn't actually reek of love.
Honeywell said, in short, that he knew what he was doing, didn't need Archer or anyone else to mentor him – verbatim, "to hold my hand" – because they can all help each other, and that the team would be best served by Archer showing what he does best on the mound.
And Archer said, in short, that he thought well of Honeywell but wished he'd stop talking so much about how good he is until he actually gets to the majors, to let his "game talk,' and to stop chirping about potentially being held back in the minors, given that most Rays prospects are.
Analysts, professional and amateur, took sides. Some blasted Honeywell for being too cocky for a prospect, others Archer for not being a better leader.
MLB Network did a full segment Thursday, throwing shade both ways, even paralleling when a young Archer was on the other side of a spat with Boston's David Ortiz.
Eric Byrnes made the point that Archer should work to make new teammates comfortable and shouldn't have criticized Honeywell through the media. Al Leiter cautioned that Honeywell, while confident, needs to "be careful" in what he says to not "disrespect" others.
But around the Rays, there wasn't much either/or.
If anything, the consensus seemed to be that both were right – that there was truth, however stinging, in what each said.
The Rays are familiar with Archer being Archer, leading by example, caring a lot and offering his educated opinion on most any on or off-field matter. Those who don't will learn quickly about Honeywell being Honeywell, absolutely certain he knows what's best and not one bit shy about saying so. (Though it will be interesting to see if that changes when he is around the media daily.)
There doesn't seem to be any issue between them, as they say they are friends and Archer pointed out when MLB Network came back to it again Friday.
Had their exchange played out with the Mets or Yankees in the New York tabloids, it would have been a bigger deal. The Rays probably don't have to be concerned with anything lingering.
Book of the month
Longtime Tampa Bay author Bill Chastain, who covers the Rays for mlb.com, co-authored a biography of former Rays/current Cubs manager Joe Maddon, titled Try Not to Suck, available now in stores and via Amazon. There's three chapters, about 80 pages, on Maddon's time in Tampa Bay.
CF Kevin Kiermaier was 43rd in Sports Illustrated's ranking of the game's top 100 players, the only Ray listed. … At least six Rays got married during the off-season: Matt Andriese, Kiermaier, Andrew Kittredge, Adam Kolarek, Austin Pruitt, Jaime Schultz. … Principal owner Stuart Sternberg seems encouraged that conversations with business leaders about supporting the team and the Ybor stadium project have at least started, even with no specifics. … The Rays jumped from 11th to fifth in Baseball America's annual organization talent rankings, continuing a climb back from 20th in 2014. Jake Bauers is BA's top-rated prospect at first base. … Some say the Cardinals' off-season interest in acquiring closer Alex Colome has been overstated. It shouldn't be, as they need someone like him. … An interesting first-week-of-camp discovery: minor-league pitching coach Marty DeMerritt still has a flip-phone. … Even if it there was a net loss in costing them higher-priced sales, good for the Rays to keep the 7-Eleven $7.11 Friday night ticket special, since it got people to the ballpark. … Opening day ticket prices, apart from the $20 anniversary special in the tbt* Party Deck, start at $40 and run through $200 for fieldside box seats. …Still hard to believe Tommy Hunter got $18-million over two years (from the Phillies) and other Rays free agents Alex Cobb and Logan Morrison are still looking for jobs.