Jul 8, 2011; Anaheim, CA, USA; Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge (left) and batting coach Chris Chambliss (right) before the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Mariner 25-Man Roster Projection


Now that spring training has begun, I thought it would be fun to put on my Eric Wedge hat and mustache and speculate a bit on what the 25-man roster will look like for Seattle when they break spring training camp.

My projected opening day roster is: Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Joe Saunders, Erasmo Ramirez, Blake Beavan, Tom Wilhelmsen, Stephen Pryor, Carter Capps, Lucas Luetge, Charlie Furbush, Hector Noesi, Jesus Montero, Kelly Shoppach, Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales, Dustin Ackley, Brendan Ryan, Kyle Seager, Robert Andino, Alex Liddi, Michael Morse, Franklin Gutierrez, Michael Saunders, Raul Ibanez, and Casper Wells.

Now that I have given my roster, I will explain what led me to this conclusion. I will try to be somewhat systematic in my explanation.

I’ll start with what we can safely assume. Players that seem to be locks on the roster are:

Hernandez (Starting Pitcher), Iwakuma (Starting Pitcher), Saunders (Starting Pitcher), Wilhelmsen (Relief Pitcher), Montero (Catcher/Designated Hitter), Morales (First Base/Designated Hitter), Ackley (Second Base), Ryan (Shortstop), Seager (Third Base/Second Base/Shortstop), Morse (Left Field/First Base/Designated Hitter), Gutierrez (Centerfield), Saunders (Outfield)

With those twelve players who appear to be sure things for the roster, there remain 13 open spots. Let’s look at what we have and what we need. When you see ½ in the following graph, it designates a player that is capable of filling a role but will probably not play there in significant amounts.

How many we have so far

How many more we need

Remaining Options

Starting Pitchers

3

2

Ramirez, Beavan, Noesi, Hultzen, Maurer, Bonderman, Garland

Relief Pitchers

1

5-6

Capps, Pryor, Luetge, Furbush, Perez, Kinney, Ruffin

Catchers

1

1

Shoppach, Paulino, Zunino

Corner Infielders

2 1/2

1-2

Smoak, Carp, Liddi, Catricala, Jacobs, Romero

Middle Infielders

2 1/2

1-2

Andino, Truinfel, Franklin, Miller, Romero

Outfielders

3

1-2

Bay, Ibanez, Wells, Thames, Peguero, Romero, Catricala

 

Erasmo Ramirez. Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The rotation will absolutely need two more starters. Considering his solid 2012 season, I expect Erasmo Ramirez to be the number four starter. His 3.55 FIP is deserving of a chance in the rotation, and the current lack of depth in the rotation provides the perfect opportunity for him.

The fifth starting spot could be available to a rookie like Hultzen, a veteran like Bonderman or Garland, or a guy like Beavan or Noesi that saw rotation time last season. I tend to think that Beavan will end up with the final rotation spot. There is no need to rush Hultzen and it seems unlikely that Bonderman or Garland will have incredible success after not playing for two and one and a half seasons respectively. Beavan has some major league experience and had some good stretches last year, although his inability to get swings and misses is very troublesome.

The Mariners will certainly need a second catcher in the dugout to help Montero with the backstop duties. Although I love Zunino, I don’t think he should be rushed to the big leagues, so I would prefer to see either Shoppach or Paulino fill that role. I don’t particularly like either player, but here is a look at some of their numbers over the past three years.

AB/HR

K%

Contact %

AVG

OBP

SLG

wRC+

UZR

WAR

Shoppach

25

34.9%

62.5%

.202

.294

.371

85

4.3

2.9

Paulino

101

14.9%

84.1%

.262

.307

.348

76

-3.0

1.2

 

Neither player is very convincing, but the good news is that they are both better Miguel Olivo. I tend to side with Shoppach, simply because he plays better defense and creates more runs, but I am very nervous about his poor plate discipline and constant swinging and missing. I hope that neither player becomes a fixture in the Seattle lineup.

With these three additions, there are now only ten spots left on my roster and the bullpen currently only has one member. The pen will need at least four more members, but past experience has told us that only five relievers will be too few. I will shoot to add five or six more relievers to accompany Tom Wilhelmsen. Capps, Pryor, Luetge, and Furbush seem like safe options and provide a good variety of arms and can create good matchups. For now, the last spot in the pen comes down to Perez, Kinney, or a starter who will be used in long relief.

We already have two lefties, so Perez is not needed. I would much rather have Kinney available than a long reliever like Noesi, but if a starter only lasts three innings, the bullpen has no one that can eat up innings to save arms. That is a huge problem and can lead to an ineffective bullpen in following games. However, this issue can be remedied by the addition of a sixth starter. Noesi seems like the best option, considering that the sixth starter role is not suitable for a prospect like Hultzen. Garland may give Noesi good competition, but I have even less confidence in Garland than Noesi.

Raul Ibanez as a Yankee in 2012. Credit: Noah K. Murray/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

After completing the bullpen, there remain just five spots left on the opening day roster. One of these will go to Raul Ibanez. He is an excellent locker room presence and can hit for some power despite his old age. Another spot will go to Robert Andino who can play every infield position except first base, which doesn’t need much help anyways. He can also serve as a pinch runner. I like to think of Andino as a better version of Kawasaki.

With just three spots left, the outfield appears to need some help. Saunders, Gutierrez, Morse, and Ibanez are the outfielders on the roster so far, but Gutierrez has constant injury bugs and Morse and Ibanez are both defensive liabilities. The best options for the fifth spot in the outfield are Thames, Wells, and Bay. I actually liked the Bay acquisition, but the layout of the roster hurts his chances of making the opening day team. He would be yet another poor defensive outfielder. Instead, I would pick Wells who can hit lefties well, like Bay, and also play solid defense in all three outfield positions.

Two spots left on the 25 man roster. Justin Smoak has been an overall disappointment with spurts of greatness over the past three seasons in Seattle. The old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Well, shame on me. I’ve been fooled several times by Smoak, and I’m ready to give him one more chance. His torrid September gave me a little spark of hope, and I would like to see what he can do in the first few months of the season.

We are down to the last roster spot. The outfield is set and there is no need to bring in a third catcher, so the 25th spot is between a reliever and another infielder. As much as I would like to have Josh Kinney in Seattle, I think there is a greater need for another infielder. Looking at the current roster, there are only four players that can play 2nd, 3rd, or shortstop: Ackley, Ryan, Seager, and Andino. We need one more guy. I think Alex Liddi is the best bet. He can play third well and also has a bit of experience at both middle infield positions. He could also play third and allow Seager to play short or 2nd if Ackley or Ryan gets injured. Having Liddi gives plenty of options for infield alignment. Carlos Triunfel would be a decent alternative to Liddi, but Alex swings a much better bat, so I give the final spot to him.

That is my projected 25-man roster and the rationale behind it. It will be interesting to see how it matches up to the roster Wedge leaves Spring Training with. I would love to hear your feedback.

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  • maqman

    If Garland, Bonderman or a prospect earn the 5th rotation spot, Beavan – who I have faith in to do the job – can be sent down to Tacoma as a D/L reserve. If MoMo Ramirez doesn’t stick then switch him out for Beavan. Perez has a contract for $1.5MM and maybe some incentive money too, so he probably sticks unless he sucks and he can be cut for 1/6 of his guaranteed money. Not so interested in Liddi or Triunfel unless they get hot in Arizona, remember Morse came up as a SS and Andino can cover until they can bring in a fresh bod from Tacoma if need be.

    I think Smoak will stick at 1B but if not Morales will be fine there and Morse and Montero can job share DH. I also believe Guti will stay well most of this season but they need to keep Wells, Ibanez is a bench bat/emergency fielder and Bay will most likely not stick. Shoppach is the second catcher, he’s got a major league contract. If any of the prospects force their way onto the team that’s a good thing.

    Whatever happens this should be an interesting spring training and season. I like our chances to take a good step forward. 82-88 wins say I.

    • JCondreay

      Good observation on Perez, but I still don’t see 3 lefties in the bullpen, and I don’t see him beating Furbush out of a job. As for Morse, yes, he did come up as a shortstop but he was also about 50 pounds lighter at the time, and he hasn’t started a game at shortstop since 2005. He is not an option in the infield (besides first). The team needs another backup infielder because if Ryan gets hurt, which is bound to happen for at least a few games, there will suddenly have 0 backup infielders.

      • maqman

        It’s only a one hour drive from Tacoma, replacements will be available for the next game. Carrying Liddi or Triunfel is an unnecessary burden unless they hit their way onto the team, which I doubt. It’s a possibility that Franklin, Romero, Miller or even Cat the Bat could earn a second backup IF shot but they probably wouldn’t get enough work to justify it unless they were banging big time or Ackley becomes a bust.

        • gmantacoma

          I agree 100% mm,
          Any of the players you mention could be brought up as an injury replacement or as an additional infielder and replace the 7th man in the bullpen later in the year. In fact I would bet on at least one young infielder seeing some time with the big club before September.

      • maqman

        Kinney is out of options, so he would have to clear waivers to be sent to Tacoma. He’d have to look pretty bad before the team would risk that. We should learn Carp’s fate here shortly. I hope he finds a good opportunity, like with the Rays, but not in the AL West.

      • gmantacoma

        3 lefties in the pen is very possible, as they all do decent job facing the right handed hitters. If the M’s go with just 2 lefty’s it will be Luetge that sees time in AAA, after all he has never pitched there before.

  • disqus_qQLhst7cBF

    Liddi won’t make the team, horrible defense. And add one more reliever. Garland and Bonderman are there for pitching batting practice.

  • gmantacoma

    I think Erasmo Ramirez is a starter as long as he is healthy, he has really good upside. The 5th starter will be one of Beavan, Garland or Bonderman, the winner determined by spring performance. I don’t like the idea of rushing any of the kids.
    In the pen I see Wilhelmsen, Furbush, Perez, Kinney, Capps, Prior and Luetge as the most likely. Perez and Kinney making it due to their contracts and lack of options, Luetge Pryor and Capps can all be sent down and spend time in Tacoma. One of Noesi, Beavan, Garland, Bonderman and Andrew Carraway are all possible long relievers if they choose to go that route.
    I see Ibanez making the team because of his contract and the ‘Wedge leadership thing‘. With Morse starting and Ibanez playing occasionally in the outfield I think it is imperative that Casper Wells makes the team as the 4th outfielder and late game defensive replacement. Jason Bay will be Wells biggest competition here, but does not really profile well as a 4th outfielder. Only one of those 2 can make the team.
    Andino and Shoppach are locks to make the team. Smoak will start at first base as long as he is producing, and I have high hopes that he will.
    If they go with a 7 man bullpen then this roster is full, the only place it is a little light, as you point out is in the infield. I doubt that Morse will ever play SS again, but I will bet he breaks out an infielder’s glove and plays a little 3B in spring training. If he does adequate at that he is the emergency backup in the infield at 3rd with Seager moving to the open spot. I don’t see enough playing time for an additional infielder on the roster.