Every Monday until the opening day roster is finalized, I’ll take some time to make a few observations about the week that’s past and look forward with that information in a futile attempt to project what I think should be the roster that takes the field on opening day. I say futile because of the fact that it’s ultimately not up to me and we all know that teams always make at least one curious move.
* Projected Members of the opening day roster are in bold and players still in in the hunt are ranked in order of depth chart.
There really isn’t a competition at this position, with Soto and Hill figuring to get the call, but there is an outside chance for a guy like Castillo to show enough defense to potentially push on Hill a little bit. We saw Castillo show his arm on Saturday on a throw to second. If he can hit a little in the minors, he could push forward and put some pressure of a role player like Hill for the backup spot.
My guess is that there really aren’t many openings for a roster spot in the infield. Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot both figure to make the roster, primarily due to a lack of option years. Fontenot still has one, but he’d have to clear waivers for it to work. Essentially, both are out of options. Lee, Ramirez, and Theriot are roster locks, so that leaves just the last infield spot. Right now, Hoffpauir comes in as a favorite due to the fact that he’s been there before, but he could easily lose that job to someone due to versatility or overall production. My guess is that Chad Tracy will push Micah for that spot and may just completely take it from him. Tracy has a higher ceiling in the fact that he’s done it before. He’s been very successful at the Major League level in the past. Perhaps the hitting guru can sprinkle his magic dust on Tracy’s bat and get him back to 27 HR form.
Guys like Scales and Blanco would probably need to see an injury happen before they get a shot on the roster out of spring. Scales is probably higher on the depth at this point due to the fact that Blanco hurt his ankle on Saturday against the White Sox.
There appears to be a 5th outfielder role available here, with the assumption that whoever takes it will need to be able to play CF. Fukudome showed he could do it, but you’d really want someone who is more comfortable in the event that Byrd needs to come out. Both Fuld and Colvin can do that. Right now, I’d like to guess that Fuld is the favorite. At the same time, the way Colvin has started at the plate combined with the increased weight and conditioning this off-season, it appears that Colvin is out to win this job. I’m a Colvin guy, so I’d love to see him on the roster. At the same time, I don’t know that I’d want him in that 5th OF / pinch hitter type role. If that’s the spot that’s available, I’d rather see Fuld get that spot and let Colvin get the regular AB’s down in Iowa.
Let’s keep this one simple. Carlos Silva = BAD. There is no way I want him on this roster. Let’s just pay him not to pitch. I don’t think we’ll see two lefties, so it’s my guess that either Marshall or Gorzelanny will be relegated to bullpen work. That leaves Samardzija making the rotation out of spring. Lord help us all.
Anyone’s Guess on the Rest
Goodness. I have no idea where to even start with this aspect of the team. When you get right down to it, there are typically seven spots reserved for bullpen arms under Lou. With Angel Guzman being shelved for what looks to be his career, there’s really only two guys that are locks. From there it’s going to be an over the top battle royal for the other five spots, with at least one of them going to a name that is currently competing for a starting spot. Right now, I really see it being anyone’s guess as to who makes this opening day roster out of the pen and I couldn’t like it any more. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I don’t believe in paying for bullpen help. I think it’s an area of your roster that can easily supplied from the farm with guys who can’t seem to develop enough secondary pitches to make it as a starter or guys with electric stuff that either don’t have the endurance to start or simply need to see Major League action and can’t find a spot in the rotation.
All that said, there are a few names I’d like to see make the opening day roster. Andrew Cashner is a guy that I’ve been clear in the past on. He projects to either be a starter with great stuff that can’t consistently get past the 6th inning or as a back of the bullpen, late innings type of pitcher. It almost reminds me a little of the Joba Chamberlain situation in New York. They’re struggling to decide what to do with Joba and I think the Cubs have done the same. If Cashner doesn’t make the team out of spring, I have no issue with him down on the farm developing as a starter. It allows him to continue to develop his secondary stuff and get the innings needed to continue to develop.
Another name I really like is John Gaub. For some reason, Gaub didn’t get a shot last year despite really good numbers over the course of both AA & AAA. He throws from the left side, which was something we craved all last season before Grabow came along. If he pitches well this spring, I think he deserves a spot in the pen.
Overall, it’s going to be a fun spring training watching these guys battle for their spot. Right now, it’s just too early to pick a favorite when the highest innings pitched by anyone on the staff is two. We’ll know a little more after this week.