Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Setting the 40-Man Roster

Tomorrow is the deadline for teams to submit their final reserve lists. These lists are in place to protect people from the Rule 5 draft in December. Players who signed at 18 or younger are eligible to be selected on their fifth draft since signing while others are eligible to be drafted in their fourth. The most notable reserve list is the team's 40-man roster, which protects players from the Major League draft. Meanwhile, there are are also reserve lists set for every level, protecting players from the minor league phases of the draft. These lists, however, are not made available to the public, so speculating on them would prove to be fruitless.

In trying to predict the Tigers' 40 man roster, the desire to protect young players with potential needs to be balanced with the needs of the Major League roster. While it would make sense to fill up all seven available spots with prospects, what happens when the team starts filling its needs and those same prospects are the ones exposed to waivers before their first spring training? For that reason, the first step I am going to take is to subjectively rank the players based on their likelihood of being removed from the 40 man roster.

The first group of players are those signed to big deals. These are the guys who have contracts or the service time to make it unlikely the Tigers will push them from the 40-man roster.
  1. Miguel Cabrera
  2. Curtis Granderson
  3. Magglio Ordonez
  4. Rick Porcello
  5. Placido Polanco
  6. Carlos Guillen
  7. Jeremy Bonderman
  8. Brandon inge
  9. Gary Sheffield
  10. Nate Robertson
  11. Dontrelle Willis
I am going to assume that all of these players will stay on the 40 man roster -- unless traded-- this offseason. Will it's not inconcievable to see Dontrelle Willis passed through waivers, he has the right to refuse an assignment and the Tigers would be out the $22 million in the process.

The next group of players are those who are not signed or are signed to very cheap deals for just the 2009 season, ranked again in a subjective manner estimating their approximate value to the Tigers on the 40 man roster this offseason. The players at the top of this list are safe from being outrighted, while the ones at the bottom are likely to be on the chopping block.
  1. Justin Verlander
  2. Joel Zumaya
  3. Matt Joyce
  4. Armando Galarraga
  5. Jeff Larish
  6. Dusty Ryan
  7. Bobby Seay
  8. Zach Miner
  9. Clete Thomas
  10. Michael Hollimon
  11. Ramon Santiago
  12. Marcus Thames
  13. Ryan Raburn
  14. Freddy Dolsi
  15. Clay Rapada
  16. Macay McBride
  17. Brent Clevlen
  18. Chris Lambert
  19. Fernando Rodney
  20. Aquilino Lopez
  21. Mike Hessman
  22. Eddie Bonine
Bonine is clearly the most expendable of the players on the 40-man now. Because of an ambiguously worded provision in the CBA, could be protected from removal from the roster between tomorrow and March 15 on account of his ending the season on the disabled list. For that reason, I'd expect him to be passed through waivers this week. Hessman, a minor league veteran, seems to be pretty expendable. Rodney and Lopez are eligible for arbitration and could be non-tender candidates. Chris Lambert was pretty awful in his cup of coffee and doesn't have the type of stuff that would justify keeping him on the roster in leu of some harder throwers. Brent Clevlen would be the last player whose spot is in jeopardy, as he is out of options and didn't even earn the call up in September.

Now, before I get into the players who need to be protected, I want to account for five roster spots that the Tigers could be using on free agents this offseason. One starting pitcher, two relievers, a catcher, and a shortstop are all likely to be acquired in some way or another. Will they all be free agents? Will some come via trades for other players on the 40 man roster, thereby not requiring a roster spot? For the purposes of this, I'll assume all five players will require a roster spot.

In order to figure out whether or not these players will need to be protected, we will need to place them in the list above and see if they still project to be in the top 40 at the end of the offseason. Some of the top players who need to be protected include:

Wilkin Ramirez-
The pros: Impressed in spring training last year, coming off a breakthrough season, scouts love his tools, almost certainly will be drafted if left unprotected.
The cons: Plate discipline is still lacking, could this season have been a fluke?
The verdict: One of the top prospects in the system, I would slot him between Larish and Galarraga on the list. He's a no-brainer to protect.

James Skelton-
The pros: Great OBP skills and contact ability. Has now sustained his performance in Erie and the Hawaii winter league.
The cons: The durability concerns, which are largely bogus, are likely to turn opposing scouts off of him, the lack of power could bring the OBP down later on.
The verdict: I ranked him just below Ryan on my prospect list, but there's a better chance he makes it through the draft. Because the Tigers don't have an incumbant at catcher, it makes sense to protect him. I'll slide him right between Dolsi and Rapada.

Luis Marte-
The pros: Dominated Lakeland, big arm, came on strong in the AFL.
The cons: The elbow questions still linger.
The verdict: As a possible bullpen contributer with injury concerns, it makes sense to rank him right above Macay McBride.

Casper Wells-
The pros: The power has shown at Erie and now in the AFL.
The cons: Scouts aren't convinced, and he could slip through the Rule 5 draft. Outfield depth is a strength of the Tigers, so he may not be missed if taken in the draft.
The verdict: We'll slot him right above Aquilino Lopez.

Zach Simons-
The pros: Big fastball, wowed scouts in Lakeland.
The cons: May not be MLB ready, struggled in the AFL.
The verdict: Worth protecting, but could be squeezed. I'll put him right below Wells, above Lopez.

Guillermo Moscoso-
The pros: Blew through Erie and Lakeland this year.
The cons: A bit old for those levels, doesn't have overpowering stuff, struggling in Venezuelan winter leagues.
The verdict: A notch below Simons, but still more appealing than Lopez.

Jay Sborz-
The pros: Big arm, succeeded in Lakeland.
The cons: Injury history, not MLB ready.
The verdict: Just between Hessman and Lopez.

Alfredo Figaro-
The pros: Hard thrower, good movement on his fastball, dominated in West Michigan.
The cons: Only success was in the biggest pitchers' park in organized baseball against players two years younger than him. Struggled in Lakeland, not MLB ready.
The verdict: Below Bonine.

Everybody else, including Williams Rhymes, Max Leon, and Josh Rainwater slots behind Alfredo Figaro.

So, wrapping this up, we have:
  1. Miguel Cabrera
  2. Curtis Granderson
  3. Magglio Ordonez
  4. Rick Porcello
  5. Placido Polanco
  6. Carlos Guillen
  7. Jeremy Bonderman
  8. Brandon Inge
  9. FA SS
  10. FA C
  11. FA SP
  12. FA RP
  13. FA/Rule 5 RP
  14. Gary Sheffield
  15. Nate Robertson
  16. Dontrelle Willis
  17. Justin Verlander
  18. Joel Zumaya
  19. Matt Joyce
  20. Armando Galarraga
  21. Wilkin Ramirez
  22. Jeff Larish
  23. Dusty Ryan
  24. Bobby Seay
  25. Zach Miner
  26. Clete Thomas
  27. Michael Hollimon
  28. Ramon Santiago
  29. Marcus Thames
  30. Ryan Raburn
  31. Freddy Dolsi
  32. James Skelton
  33. Clay Rapada
  34. Luis Marte
  35. Macay McBride
  36. Brent Clevlen
  37. Chris Lambert
  38. Fernando Rodney
  39. Casper Wells
  40. Zach Simons
  41. Guillermo Moscoso
  42. Aquilino Lopez
  43. Jay Sborz
  44. Mike Hessman
  45. Eddie Bonine
  46. Alfredo Figaro
  47. William Rhymes
According to this excercise, Guillermo Moscoso may be the odd man out if the team needs five roster spots this offseason. You may get a good idea of how close the Tigers are to making a trade if more than five players are added. As it stands, while Lopez, Hessman, and Bonine fall outside of the top 40, there is no reason to cut them loose quite yet. They can each be outrighted or non-tendered as the need for roster space requires. For now, I'll make the following transaction projection for tomorrow:

Purchased the contracts of P's Luis Marte and Zach Simons, C James Skelton, and OF's Wilkin Ramirez and Casper Wells.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Here's the MLB story - Marte and Skelton were left off in favor of Moscoso and Figaro. hmmm.