== Resetting the Field ==
Back in late January we took a 35,000-foot aerial view of the 25-man roster. Let’s revisit the matter and see where things stand.
Once again, the assumption is 12 pitchers.
That means 13 position players, and here’s a look, with the “running total” in parentheses. Non-roster invitees are in green and speculative additions are in red:
|Catcher||Mike Zunino (1)||John Buck (2)|
|First Base||Justin Smoak (3)|
|Second Base||Robinson Cano (6)||Nick Franklin (7)||Willie Bloomquist (8)|
|Shortstop||Brad Miller (9)||Nick Franklin||Willie Bloomquist|
|Third Base||Kyle Seager (10)||Nick Franklin||Willie Bloomquist|
|Outfield||Michael Saunders (11)|
|Dustin Ackley (12)||Abraham Almonte (13?)|
There have been some fairly big changes:
- They seem determined to at least open the year with Corey Hart is the main right fielder rather than Logan Morrison, with LoMo getting more 1b/DH time. Lloyd McClendon indicated Hart will be in the OF as often as his knees will allow.
- Chances of signing Nelson Cruz seem to have faded.
- Franklin Gutierrez decided to sit out the entire season due to health issues.
No Guti and no Cruz seems to open up a spot for Abe Almonte or Endy Chavez. Almonte would have the edge there since he is already on the 40-man roster, and at least one 40-man move, and quite possibly two, is likely for a pitcher (Carlos Triunfel and Hector Noesi seem to be closest to the chopping block).
McClendon has already designated Bloomquist as a lock, and in fact indicated that Bloomie was the first guy he requested after getting hired. Versatile veteran “glue” guy — sort of like, well, as it happens, Lloyd McClendon.
The “problem” with the roster as set up that way is no “true” right-handed hitter on the bench except the backup catcher (who doesn’t get used unless an emergency) and Bloomquist (who is, to put it kindly, not going to instill fear in any pitchers). Almonte and Franklin are switch-hitters but stronger from the left side. Same for longshot utility guy Ty Kelly.
All of which may create an opening for Stefen Romero, who is on the 40-man and has been added to the chart.
All of which also diminishes the chances of Franklin getting traded or starting in AAA. If he ends up on the MLB roster as a bench player, I would guess that they might give him some playing time in the outfield. He won’t really be getting any time at second base.
The pitching landscape:
|Starters||Felix Hernandez (14)|
|Hisashi Iwakuma (15, but DL to start year)|
|Brandon Maurer (or bullpen?)|
|Taijuan Walker (17)|
|James Paxton (18)|
|Closer||Fernando Rodney (19)|
|RH Bullpen||Tom Wilhelmsen (20)|
|Danny Farquhar (21)||Stephen Pryor (injured)|
|?? (22)||Yoervis Medina|
|?? (23)||Hector Noesi|
|Luis Ayala [?]|
|LH Bullpen||Charlie Furbush (24)|
|?? (25)||Randy Wolf|
Major developments include:
- Signing Fernando Rodney to be the closer
- Scott Baker going from speculative addition to official non-roster invitee
- Hisashi Iwakuma starting the year on the DL due to a mangled finger
- Ubaldo Jimenez signing elsewhere and Chris Capuano emerging as the most-buzzed-about free agent signing
- Randy Wolf coming in as a non-roster invitee touted as a probable LH reliever
- McClendon possibly indicating he likes the idea of three lefties in the bullpen (though that might not mean anything)
All of which means …
- Baker is probably a lock (early reports are positive), which (as mentioned above) requires a 40-man move
- If they do not bring in Capuano (or Santana) then Erasmo Ramirez would be first in line for Iwakuma’s rotation spot in April
- I believe Hector Noesi is out of options, so he’s very likely to be one of the 40-man moves
- Brandon Maurer is very unlikely to make the rotation, so he’d probably take a bullpen slot ahead of Noesi anyway
- They seem to like the idea of Wolf for the second lefty, though that would leave them without a late-inning or LOOGY lefty specialist. I still don’t rule out Nick Hill grabbing that role eventually.