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April 5, 2010


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

9 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Do you plan to make any comment on the actually DFA'ing itself of Jack Cust? I'd be very curious what your thoughts are on this set of transactions.


Apr 05, 2010 16:40 PM
rating: 1
Brock Dahlke

Christina, all I need to read on BP is your work to know that my subscription is worth it.

Apr 05, 2010 17:27 PM
rating: 0

On #6, if Belisario doesn't have visa issues and Chin-Lung Hu, do the Ortizes make the roster? I'm not worried about it but having both Ortizes around won't be pleasant for long.

I agree with your White Sox sentiment. Kenny likes Kotsay and Andruw too much. Having Jack Cust's bat and not his glove is who AL GM's should be looking for. There are a lot of these guys in the NL. One of them beat out Cust.

Apr 05, 2010 21:14 PM
rating: 0
Vince Galloro

I'm not sure if it's Ken Williams or Ozzie Guillen who likes Kotsay and Jones too much. In my opinion, it's Guillen. Remember, Williams said several times over the winter that he's not that comfortable with the South Side power outage and that he and Guillen disagreed about whether to re-sign Jim Thome.

Also, I think Jones could be fine as the short side of a platoon with some defensive replacement work in other games (for Pierre or Quentin), now that he's in better shape again. That's where Thome should have come in, as the other half (two-thirds?) of the platoon.

Apr 06, 2010 11:11 AM
rating: 0

*I meant Hong-Chih Kuo, not Hu

Apr 05, 2010 21:16 PM
rating: 0

As well as Belisario & Kuo, they probably were reasonably counting on James McDonald to continue to be useful. So I don't see why you'd blame offseason inactivity for their current problems if they couldn't have reasonable foreseen that all 3 of Belisario, McDonald & Kuo would be unavailable.

Apr 06, 2010 16:08 PM
rating: 0

I have to say, I had a hard time understanding a contending roster where opening day had Vincent Padilla, both Ortiz's AND Jeff Weaver pitching.

Apr 05, 2010 21:48 PM
rating: 2

You and me both.

Apr 06, 2010 11:18 AM
rating: 0

Does "waived" imply an opinion that no one will bite on Cust in the period before he must be put on outright waivers, or was it just meant as shorthand for "DFA'ed"?

Apr 06, 2010 00:40 AM
rating: 0
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Pre-Season Predictions... (04/04)
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Game Story: White Sox ... (04/05)

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