Sep 25, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Nick Franklin (2) bats during the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
The Rays’ middle infield is anything but set. Asdrubal Cabrera and Nick Franklin is set to be the primary starters at shortstop and second base, but which player will play where is far from obvious. In addition, we know that Franklin has offensive potential, but it’s a valid question whether he will be able to tap into it against big league pitching. Asking him to play shortstop would only make things harder for him.
In regards to the backups, meanwhile, the Rays need to be asking for both capable hitters against left-handed pitching and insurance in case Franklin does not pan out. Logan Forsythe fits the former requirement well enough, but we know he can’t hit right-handed pitching and could not realistically start in any scenario.
Tim Beckham may be an answer as he is a right-handed batter who is at least adequate at both short and second. However, he is coming off an injury-riddled season and we have no idea whether he can hit at all. The other two possibilities on the 40-man roster are Hak-Ju Lee and Ryan Brett, but Lee is a real long-shot after a disastrous 2014 while Brett has yet to play a Triple-A game.
The Rays clearly like Franklin a lot, and as long as he can start at least against right-handed pitching, everything else should fall into place. The Rays can have Rene Rivera play some DH to hide a 25th man like Beckham if he is on the roster. However, a trade for a middle infielder may be in order because the Rays certainly have far from an ideal situation right now.