April 14, 2001
Players on Opening Day Rosters We Missed
Each edition of the annual Baseball Prospectus covers more than 1,600 players, with full Davenport Translations and comments. Even with that kind of blanket coverage, every year players who miss the cut for the book make the cut in spring training, finding their way onto major-league rosters.
Our staff has collected DTs and player comments for just about everyone who made an Opening Day roster but wasn't in BP2K1. We've also included updated Wilton projections for hitters. Enjoy!
Chris Donnels 3B Bats L Age 35 (Los Angeles)
The journeyman made the Dodgers thanks to Adrian Beltre's post-appendectomy complications and Dave Hansen's subsequent injury. He's a serviceable bat off the bench and a lousy defender, and will lose his roster spot ten seconds before Hansen is ready, probably sometime in May.
Tony Fernandez 3B Bats B Age 39 (Milwaukee)
Tony Fernandez spent the 2000 season in Japan after enjoying perhaps his best offensive season the year before. Now the Brewers have brought him back to be their leadoff hitter and third baseman; they need him to be the former and will tolerate him as the latter. Though he once was a standout defender at shortstop, he now has unimpressive range at third, and his arcing sidearm flips inspire little confidence. He'll be turning 39 at midseason, and his playing time may erode if he shows signs of wearing down in the midsummer heat.
Charles Gipson UT Bats R Age 28 (Seattle)
Charles Gipson has long been a tease, tempting the Mariners organization with his slick glovework at multiple positions, rifle arm and blazing speed. However, he still has trouble hitting the ball out of the infield and reading a pitcher's move to first, which makes him an ineffective base-stealer. Gipson has some late-inning strategic value, but his utter feebleness at the plate doesn't afford him much job security.
Shea Hillenbrand 3B/1B Bats R Age 25 (Boston)
Shea Hillenbrand has hit for high averages in his two full seasons in the pros, two years that bookended a 1999 season lost to a knee injury that probably ended his tenure as a catcher. Now a stone-gloved third baseman, Hillenbrand's empty .300 averages--he never walks and doesn't have much power--are even less valuable. His time in Boston will likely be short as major-league pitchers exploit his weak command of the strike zone.
Ryan Jackson 1B Bats L Age 28 (Detroit)
Things were looking up in Toledo, what with the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic, Muddy the Mudhen breaking ground for a new downtown ballpark and the Tigers' off-season signing of Triple-A stalwart Ryan Jackson for the beleaguered local nine. Then, Phil Garner threw a wrench in the works and broke camp with Jackson on the 25-man roster. Don't be alarmed, Toledoans; Jackson is already on his way.
Robin Jennings OF Bats L Age 29 (Oakland)
Robin Jennings has been handicapped by trying to work his way through the organization during Al Goldis's "let's get goofy" days as Larry Himes's player-development sidekick. His best shot was probably 1997, but Doug Glanville won the center-field job. The Cubs then went for broke in 1998, which basically left Jennings to make that uncomfortable transformation from prospect to minor-league veteran. He was always going to be a tweener, in that he's not a center fielder (his first step seems consistently late in coming), and not enough of a hitter to start regularly in either corner. He'll probably get demoted this week for fifth starter Cory Lidle.
Mark Little OF Bats R Age 28 (Colorado)
Mark Little an awful lot in common with Robin Jennings, except that Little can handle center. He's not really a platoon player, so he doesn't have a tidy potential role as Todd Hollandsworth's platoon mate. Along with Hollandsworth, he gives Buddy Bell some nice flexibility in that he's got a pair of outfield backups who can handle all three positions. On an organizational level, if Dan O'Dowd had to pass Little through waivers he'd probably slip through, which isn't a bad quality in a fifth outfielder.
Jose Macias UT Bats B Age 27 (Detroit)
Jose Macias is your garden-variety utility man, not as annoyingly abundant as zucchini, but more palatable, like broccoli. The Tigers' predicament is that they're carrying two similar players in Shane Halter and Rule 5 selection Jermaine Clark. Now that Dean Palmer's shoulder has mended enough for him to come off the disabled list, Jermaine Clark has been designated for assignment, leaving the zucchini that is currently occupying third base.
Sandy Martinez C Bats L Age 28 (Montreal)
If you blinked, you missed Sandy Martinez's brief return to major-league baseball. He blew out his elbow making a throw in his first game, and should be done for the year. His lone claim to fame was a flirtation with being Kerry Wood's personal catcher during 1998. The nicest thing you can say about him as a player is that he threw well.
Donaldo Mendez SS Bats R Age 23 (San Diego)
For the second straight season, the Padres intend to keep a Rule 5 pick with little minor-league experience on the roster all year. Donaldo Mendez, from the Houston farm system, is a shortstop with a good defensive reputation who hadn't played above low-A ball before this season. Chris Gomez has limited range at shortstop, and Santiago Perez's minor-league numbers look positively boot-tastic; Mendez has an opportunity to be a useful defensive replacement for either, while also doing on-the-job training in the outfield. He'll contribute nothing with his bat, of course.
David Newhan IF Bats R Age 27 (Philadelphia)
David Newhan is primarily known for being the son of soon-to-be Hall of Fame Los Angeles Times sportswriter Ross Newhan. The son will have to buy a ticket to join his father there, because he's nothing more than a standard issue utility infielder. He's mildly useful to the Phillies, primarily because their bench is so awful.
Tim Raines OF/PH Bats B Age 41 (Montreal)