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April 5, 2010

One-Hoppers

Roster Moves to Regret

by Christina Kahrl

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The six-month slog of the regular season can make any Opening Day mistake a footnote--faster than you can forget Chris Pittaro or Gary Scott, a team's figured out a better way to go. Even so, with the regular season swinging into action, there are some problems that need fixing sooner rather than later, starting with these five worst Opening Day roster decisions:

  1. Making the term 'designated hitter' an oxymoron on the South Side. Roster pressures have encouraged more than a few teams to stock the DH slot with 'staff' and use the at-bats as a way to keep bench players fresh or give position players days off from fielding. But in a Sox lineup that projects to finish 12th in the AL in True Average and 12th in OBP, letting those at-bats go to Mark Kotsay and Andruw Jones just isn't going to fly. Recently waived Jack Cust may not be an Ozzieball ballplayer, but he'd make a nice fix to both problems in a lineup that could keep a quality rotation from winning a winnable division.
  2. Sending down Brett Cecil. Already looking like a club that might slip from the irrelevancy of fourth place to the ignominy of fifth, the Blue Jays have rounded out their rotation with veteran swingman Brian Tallet and the well-traveled Dana Eveland. While both have their uses, neither presents any real upside value; they'll just help the Jays successfully complete a losing season. Cecil was already the organization's best pitching prospect, and last season's 17 starts in the big leagues showed he's as ready as he'll ever be. Beyond that, an assignment to that hitting haven in Las Vegas is a terrible thing to do to a young pitcher. Skip the oregano, Cecil doesn't need any more seasoning. 
  3. Losing Brandon Webb for longer than expected puts the D'backs in a bit of a bind, but the club was expected to contend, and relying on Ian Kennedy, Rodrigo Lopez, and a Reno Ace to be named later to fill the last three slots in the rotation makes it clear that Arizona needs to add somebody. As with the White Sox, this is more a matter of what hasn't been done as much as what has been, because Rodrigo Lopez is a guy you endure as a fifth, not count on as a fourth.
  4. Benching the wrong guy for Ian Desmond. To the credit of the Nats' brain trust, it's true, Cristian Guzman may not be all that, and Desmond really should be given his shot at starting in the middle infield. But after a winter in which the other 29 teams had a chance to add Adam Kennedy and decided not to, he has no trade value to a club that needs to be thinking of how to convert veterans into prospects, whereas Guzman's value as a starting shortstop won't be helped if he's riding pine
  5. The Dodgers bullpen's a throwback to the days when relievers were just guys who failed in their bids to make it in the rotation. But both Russ and Ramon Ortiz? And Jeff Weaver? Carrying Rule 5 pick Carlos Monasterios isn't a bad choice as a matter of retaining talent, but as a quartet, the team's middle relief selections figure to deliver middling results—at best—behind a rotation which lacks. The matter of who's in this bullpen might be one of the more subtle symptoms of the Dodgers' divorce-enabled inactivity this winter.

Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

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Pre-Season Predictions... (04/04)
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One-Hoppers: Combined ... (04/04)
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One-Hoppers: Un-Juicin... (04/06)
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Game Story: White Sox ... (04/05)

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