Sunday, 27 March 2011

The 25

Or, well, actually The 30 - counting those who will spend opening day on the DL.

I reference, of course, today's roster cuts which leave only two players in the major league camp that won't be on the Opening Day roster or the DL next Friday (baring an unforeseen development of course). With these cuts - David Cooper, Eric Thames, and a handful of unimportant relief filler - we can now surmise what the Opening Day squad looks like.

Starting pitchers (listed in order of appearance):

Ricky Romero
Kyle Drabek
Brett Cecil
JoJo Reyes
Jesse Litsch


Jon Rauch
Jason Frasor
Marc Rzepczyinski
Shawn Camp
Casey Janssen
David Purcey
Carlos Villianueva

Lineup (projected):

1. Raji Davis - CF
2. Yunel Escobar - SS
3. Jose Bautista - 3B
4. Adam Lind - 1B
5. Aaron Hill - 2B
6. Travis Snider - LF
7. Edwin Encarnacion - DH
8. Juan Rivera - RF
9. JP Arencibia - C


Jose Molina, John McDonald, Corey Patterson, Mike McCoy

Brandon Morrow - likely to miss only one start, will bump either Drabek or Reyes from the rotation. My guess is Drabek for logistical reasons.
Frank Francisco - no idea how long it will take him to be up to speed. Not a LONG time as far as we know now, just an uncertain period.
Octavio Dotel - Likely activated as soon as he's eligible. The guy most vulnerable to demotion is Villianueva, who had an excellent spring but has options. Yo, Carlos - Jeremy Accardo can commiserate.
Dustin McGowan - no setbacks lately, road back is a LONG one though. He'll create a fascinating roster-crowding situation if/when he makes it back if no one is injured in the meantime.
Jesse Carlson - Uncertain shoulder issues, likely optioned to AAA when healthy.

If you are wondering, both Scott Podsednick and Chad Cordero are on minor league contracts. Cordero will open the season either on the DL or on the Vegas roster and Podsednick is not ready for game action yet. The other two players in the major league camp who are yet to be optioned out - but will be - are Jon Diaz, who seems to have really caught the eye of the Jays as a John McDonald type, and catcher Ryan Budde who's a minor-league journeyman destined to back-up Brian Jeroloman this year.

So, what have meaningless spring numbers taught us? Well, nothing obviously beyond health, but here are some of my impressions:

*Jesse Litsch is a swell guy who's never been real high on my list simply because I saw him as a guy who had maybe the 6th or 7th best stuff among the potential rotation candidates. But you have to tip your cap to him, among the starters only Brandon Morrow had a better spring. his 17:3 ratio in 17 spring innings (which leads the team) is very hard to ignore.

*Morrow did nothing to disabuse me of my prediction that he'll be among the very best in the AL this year. One earned run, complimented by 16K and only 3 BB in 12 IP will do that.

*I was not impressed when the Jays acquired Carlos Villianueva and considered him a shuttle rider, but you have to acknowledge he did everything he could to make the team. That said, Casey Janssen was right there with him. David Purcey, on the other hand, is in danger of playing himself off the team if he doesn't find the strike zone again. His ERA is fine but a walk per inning pitched simply won't do.

*All the veteran guys who make you ask "will he bounce back?" have, at this point, very good spring numbers, except Aaron Hill who hasn't the at bats for me to comment (reportedly he looked quite good today). Raji Davis, YEscobar, and Lind have much to brag about, as does Travis Snider. The counterpoint being that John McDonald is hitting .333 - so there ya go.

*JPA and Encarnacion have less than rosy averages, although EE has shown good power, but John Farrell insists he's impressed with both of them. in fact, if you listen to Farrell it's hard not to be excited about virtually everyone on the team.

*Speaking of Farrell (whom the Tao shows some love too here in a piece I completely agree with), one of the things that has most excited me this spring is the constant praise for the teams coaching staff. Not just Farrell, whom I've quietly come to adore, but Bruce Walton, Don Wakamatsu, and the ever beloved Brian Butterfield have come in for a lot of excellent clippings.

*The kids are alright. one of the ways John Farrell found his way into my heart was his lavish praise for some of my favorite prospects. Brett Lawrie, Anthony Gose, Henderson Alvarez, Travis d'Arnaud, and Eric Thames have all been the recipiant of the Manager's superlatives. Other prospects that have, for one reason or another, seemingly advanced their cause with the organization are David Cooper, the aforementioned Diaz, and possibly John Tolisano.

Let us note that the most important week of the spring is the one coming up. This is when the "A" line-ups are playing most of every game and players are more focused on production rather than, say, refining a pitch. But, laying aside unwarranted excitement over inflated stats, there's a lot here to be excited about.

I can't resist here a somewhat off-topic glance at Vegas and the rest of the farm. With Zach Stewart leading (for now) a much improved rotation, and at least six hitters you can expect to do well, along with the rebirth (hopefully) of Chad Cordero's career the 51's should be much more fun than last year.
Likewise, the Fisher Cats should make some noise. The offense stands to be very good, with d'Arnaud, Gose, Hechevarria, Sierra, and McDade worth your notice. The rotation, which I'd once thought might be a weakness looks more interesting if, as has been recently hinted at, Henderson Alvarez breaks camp in AA. Eventually Chad Jenkins will probably join him.

Dunedin might be a bit of a valley until some of the younger guys move up, but there are players to pay attention to, such as Jenkins and eventually McGuire, along with Antonio Jimenez and the last realistic chance for Kevin Ahrens and Justin Jackson (who'll get a lot of time in the outfield according to reports) to revive their chances.
Lansing looks to be loaded enough for a whole separate column.

I can't wait!


The 5th Starter said...

JPA has been quietly ramping up. I was unsure until recently, but I am getting on his bandwagon now before it officially leaves the station. Dude handles himself like a real pro.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, I'm getting excited - thanks for this!