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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