I seem to be making a habit of these posts. I was curious about how things stood and what it might look like come opening day as well as depth. After getting into it a bit, I thought I'd share as I found it useful. So here we go (again). Starting with the 40 man plus those invited to camp. Pitching first:
James Paxton (L)
Charlie Furbush (L)
Lucas Luetge (L)
Jonathan Arias, Andrew Carraway, Roenis Elias (L), James Gillheeney (L), Nick Hill (L), Stephen Kohlscheen, Dominic Leone, Matt Palmer, Ramon Ramirez, Chance Ruffin, Carson Smith, Joe Biemel (L), Logan Kensing
The rotation is okay, if you're okay with this being a developmental year with the idea of going for it in 2015. Are we still at that point? I don't think so. If we could get Jimenez, Santana or even a Capuano or Maholm, bumping one of the young kids to AAA as depth or maybe to the pen as long man (I could only see them doing this with Erasmo), then maybe we're in better shape. Adding someone like a Baker wouldn't be a bad move either, there's no depth/NRI I can see on the list that's likely to challenge for a rotation spot.
The pen could also do with some work. Pryor is expected to be out until about May. I'm comfortable with Farquhar, Furbush, Medina and Wilhelmsen, but those last three spots need some work. Maurer might be okay as a long man, but I think I'd rather have him in AAA working on something he can throw to lefties. I'd definitely rather have upgrades over the other two lefties in the pen, maybe Leone or Smith make opening day with a good spring if they don't add anyone else of significance.
Now on to the position players:
Mike Dowd, John Hicks, Manny Pina
This one's pretty clear cut. Sucre and Quintero are adequate depth, but they're really betting the farm on Zunino. Buck should be a not terrible stop gap if he has to take the starting duties at some point, although we better hope that doesn't eventuate.
Justin Smoak (S)
Logan Morrison (L)
Ji-Man Choi, Jesus Montero (lol?)
Ty Kelly(?) (S)
Barring a trade, I'd assume this is going to be Smoak with Hart or Morrison on days off, with the other two rotating between a corner outfield spot and DH. It'll be interesting to see how that unfolds as the season progresses if Smoak doesn't take a step forward, assuming that Hart and Morrison both play well enough to justify playing time.
Robinson Cano (L)
Dustin Ackley (L)
Nick Franklin (S)
I'm not bothering with Depth or NRI for this one - Ackley or Franklin would be a starting second basemen on a bunch of other teams if they weren't behind Cano in the pecking order. If you want, there's Triunfel as depth and Kelly, Gabriel Noriega and Chris Taylor as NRIs, even Nate Tenbrink for giggles. This is obviously Cano, but for rare off days (hoping he continues being durable), it may end up being Bloomquist. The M's depth chart actually has Cano, Franklin, Miller - no Ackley or WFB which is amusing but probably not a reflection of reality. I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't see any more of Ackley at second at least in the short term, though. If Franklin doesn't get traded, I'd think he starts in AAA - there's not much playing time for him otherwise. I don't believe for a second they're seriously considering him as a competitor to Brad Miller for the starting shortstop gig.
Kyle Seager (L)
Ty Kelly, Nate Tenbrink
This needs no discussion, as Seager is Boss. We are so screwed if anything happens because otherwise you're looking at WFB, starting third baseman and Triunfel as your utility IF guy. Ugh. Interestingly, Franklin is listed behind Seager and WFB on the depth chart and ahead of Triunfel, despite never having played there in his professional career.
Brad Miller (L)
Gabriel Noriega (S), Chris Taylor
Even though the M's had opportunities to give Franklin time at short late last year, they chose not to which is why I haven't listed him here, even though he's ahead of WFB on the depth chart (and Triunfel is not listed at all).
Dustin Ackley (L)
Michael Saunders (L)
Abraham Almonte (S)
Logan Morrison (L)
So at first glance, that's not a terrible pile. The downside is the only guy with a real shot at starting (at least in the outfield) on most teams is Michael Saunders, and there's no reliable help coming - Romero might not hit enough to make up for below average defence, and Morban could be Glass Guti 2.0. The depth chart again is intriguing, it lists left as Ackley, Guti, Saunders, WFB, centre as Saunders, Guti, Ackely, Almonte, and right as Morrison, Hart, Guti and Almonte. At this stage I'd venture that you'll see some combination of the first three names get the bulk of the playing time with LoMo and Hart rotating through a corner when not DHing or spelling Smoak at first. I'm not sure it makes sense for Almonte to make the team at this stage, as I just can't see where he's going to get regular playing time the way the roster is constructed, although he might be one of the better defensive options.
So what might this actually look like come open day? My guess:
Felix, Iwakuma, FA veteran, Walker, Erasmo/Paxton/cheap FA or reclamation project like Baker
Farquhar, Furbush, Medina, Wilhelmsen, Luetge/LaFromboise/NRI or FA lefty, pick two of Bawcom/Leone/FA righty/Maurer/Erasmo (if not starting)
I'd bet Pryor slots straight back in when he's ready to go, which should strengthen things. They didn't really go with a long man much last year, it'll be interesting to see if that continues, or if that was a Wedge thing.
Zunino, Smoak (S), Cano, Seager, Miller, Morrison/Ackley/Saunders (L/C/R), Hart (DH)
Buck, WFB, Guti, Almonte (S)
I'd imagine a three headed DH/COF monster with Hart, LoMo and Guti, maybe even a four way with 1B and toss Smoak in as well, depending on how they're all going. As always, I hope someone else found this useful, any thoughts or feedback greatly appreciated. Maybe one day I'll spend the time to figure out how to make things look pretty, though I doubt it.