Final Roster Cuts Shape Minor League Rosters
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on March 28, 2007
Today’s cuts that included the optioning of outfielder Jeremy Reed and catcher Rene Rivera to Triple-A Tacoma and Double-A West Tennessee will assist in the forming of the minor league rosters and make for some interesting decisions ahead for the player development department.
If Reed had made the big-league roster, or been traded as was expected by many this winter, Tacoma’s outfield would have likely consisted of Wladimir Balentien, Mike Wilson and Adam Jones, with Jon Nelson a backup.
With Reed warranting regular time, several things could happen that would not have otherwise, such as the release of Nelson, who has no future with the major league club.
It’s possible that Wilson or Balentien is sent back to Double-A. It’s also possible that Reed is still dealt to a club in need of an outfielder as the rosters around the league shape up.
Rivera’s presence in West Tenn doesn’t mean as much as one might think. The organization is obviously convinced that Rivera isn’t ready to hit in the majors, and they should be convinced that he never will. So, where does that leave Rob Johnson and Jeff Clement?
Maybe in the same exact place they were before today – Double-A West Tennessee for Johnson and Tacoma for Clement. The decisions are being made this week on the minor league rosters as well, though they have a few more days to sift through their plan for 2007.
Clement and Johnson are both much better off on different rosters. Having two catchers with a future in the bigs share time isn’t the best idea ever, and it seems the M’s are turning in a different direction than a year ago.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that both begin the year in the same spot, whether it be West Tenn or Tacoma, but more signs point the other way. It’s a wait-and-see.
Eric O’Flaherty was also sent down today, which means that Sean White, Jon Huber and Brandon Morrow are the three battling for the last spot in the pen, since Rhodes is almost certain to make the club. Morrow is a foregone conclusion, though there has been no announcement, and Mike Hargrove and Rafael Chaves are considering taking eight relievers north with them to give them an ample supply of arms for the first month of the season.
Yeah, I know, it’s stupid… but they are considering it. If they do, two of the three make it, likely Morrow and either White or Huber, and the big-league pen looks like this – Putz, Reitsma, Morrow, Rhodes, Sherrill, Mateo, Huber OR White, Woods.
Guessing the M’s keep White, since if they don’t they have to send him back to ATL, who have made it clear they’d like to have White back, and Huber has options left, Huber is probably the odd-man out.
Huber could combine with Ryan Rowland-Smith, Eric O’Flaherty, Sean Green, Carlos Alvarado, Renee Cortez, Aaron Small and Justin Lehr to make up a pretty darned good bullpen for the Rainiers. Lefty Brad Thomas is also a possibility here.
The Infield — Bryan LaHair at first, with Oswaldo Navarro, Michael Garciaparra and Yung Chi Chen the likely infield starters, with the possibility that Jesus Guzman gets the nod as well.
Clement or Johnson will share time behind the plate with either Luis Oliveros or the other catching prospect, just as they did a year ago, and Guzman, Gookie Dawkins, Rey Ordonez, Mike Morse, Nelson, Ismael Castro and Tony Torcato are other options for DH and utility spots.
Ordonez and Morse are battling it out for the final spot on the major league roster.
That outfield might be really fun to watch, though, since Reed will be playing left with Jones in center. That’s a pretty solid defensive club with Navarro at short and Chen at third.
The Minor League Rosters should be released by the weekend, if not before, and while I won’t be making 400 phone calls to find them, if I get a hold of them before they are published, I’ll get them out as soon as possible.