Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Projecting the Roster - Position Players

While the pitching staff is up in the air, the position players are a little more settled. Fortunately, there is some competition which should help to motivate these guys.

There are 13 spots that are likely to be available for pitchers. Simple math will confirm that there are four bench spots. With Brandon Inge moving to third base, the team will not be able to save a roster spot by having a backup catcher play the infield and outfield as well, so there will likely be two catchers, at least five infielders, a designated hitter, four outfielders, and one other player.

Gerald Laird and Matt Treanor probably have these spots locked up. Dusty Ryan and Dane Sardinha are the other two catchers in camp with major league experience, and are likely headed for Toledo. Jeff Kunkel, Alex Avila, and Max St. Pierre are all in camp as extra catchers to help out with all the pitchers in camp.

Miguel Cabrera, Placido Polanco, Adam Everett, and Brandon Inge are clearly the starters. Ramon Santiago also seems to have a spot locked up at the backup middle infielder. Michael Hollimon is likely to be ready for the start of the season, but his option status and defensive weaknesses likely have him headed to Toledo. Cale Iorg is in big league camp with a chance to impress. He's likely headed to Erie. Scott Sizemore, William Rhymes, and Don Kelly are also in camp. Sizemore is recovering from a wrist injury that wiped out most of last season. He's probably getting a look because Polanco's contract is up after the season and the Tigers want to see if they can fill the void internally. Rhymes and Kelly are longshots as well.

That leaves Jeff Larish, Mike Hessman, and Ryan Raburn. I'll have more on them after the outfielders.

Carlos Guillen, Curtis Granderson, and Magglio Ordonez are the starters. Gary Sheffield is slotted as the DH. Longshots for a spot include Casper Wells, Wilkin Ramirez, and hopefully Alexis Gomez. Brent Clevlen is out of options, but is close to a longshot as well. Clete Thomas is recovering from Tommy John Surgery, and I'm projecting him to start on a DL. Timo Perez is back and projects to head to Toledo. That leaves Marcus Thames, who probably has a spot. That's 24 players on the roster, and we can talk about the last three now.

Jeff Larish played some third last year, and is spending time in the outfield now. Ryan Raburn can play second and third base as well as all three outfield positions, but none of those positions particularly well. Mike Hessman has a reputation as a top defensive third baseman, and his power can't be questioned. Unless Clevlen has a great spring, you'd have to think those three guys are the ones in the hunt for the last spot. With a switch hitter in left field and right handed hitters at third, first, designated hitter, and right field, could the edge be given to Larish? Or could Ryan Raburn get a job giving Jim Leyland a platoon option in center field? I'm going to go with Ryan Raburn in the final spot for now.

Here's the projected position players as of today:

Gerald Laird
Matt Treanor

Miguel Cabrera
Adam Everett
Brandon Inge
Placido Polanco
Ryan Raburn
Ramon Santiago

Curtis Granderson
Carlos Guillen
Magglio Ordonez
Gary Sheffield
Marcus Thames

Despite the glowing words for Dontrelle Willis and Macay McBride, I'm going to keep the pitchers the same for now. Toledo's roster will be next.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

Nice Work. I agree, unfortunately with Raburn as the likely choice because of Leyland's perception that he has some "versatility" plus the fact that he has never, ever had fewer than two backup middle infielders on the roster. This is the same manager that carried three of the four bench players on the World Series roster as backup middle IF'ers- Infante, Santiago, and Neifi (Ug!). Raburn, IMO, is a jack of all trades, master of none. But he does have an option left, thanks to being quickly recalled in 2008. Let's hope they use it.

Larish's main attributes are he bats left, he bats left, and he bats left. He hasn't even demonstrated a greater ability to hit RHP's than Hessman in either AAA or in the majors. Jeff does have some pop, and he has adjusted well with each level he's been promoted to, but I don't see where he gets the AB's in the majors, particularly with Thames on the roster.

Clevlen would be a K machine, but a solid defensive replacement at any of the three OF spots. I prefer any of these trio to Raburn, but I think JL will stick with "Sam" Raburn.

Of course, all of this could change if they can find a taker for Thames. Luke Scott would be a nice move- he kills RHP's. Marcus is basically insurance for Sheff at this point. If he's traded, that opens another OF spot. I think they'd trade him for a decent reliever, and DD has been known to bring in some lousy relievers, too. Too bad they didn't sign Cruz.