Each of the Rockies' divisional foes made either interesting or surprising moves leading up to today, Opening Day. I'll chronicle them in the same format as the NLWR's from last season, but if anyone has any suggestions for what to add/subtract/change from my format, I'm all ears.
Before we get to those capsules, I want to touch on a topic that could be a weekly column in itself:
This Week in.....Laughing at Brian Sabean
Not a single baseball analyst would suggest the Giants' biggest need is more pitching. If you were to throw a dart at the lineup card, you're liable to find a position that could be improved. Let us set aside for a moment that Sabean's solutions this offseason were Aubrey Huff (112 career wRC+ as DH/1B, age 33) and Mark DeRosa (102, 35). That is his second chance to address the meager offense in recent months. Let's revisit last year's trade deadline.
Sabean dealt two top ten prospects in the Giants system: Tim Alderson is now exciting Pirate fans as a 21-year old, likely to start at AA, while lefty Scott Barnes would likely start at Cleveland's AA affiliate at age 22. These weren't exactly Nathan/Liriano/Bonser for Pierzynski fleecings, but Giant fans are wondering if they'll get much of anything in return for their prospects. Because right now....they do have nothing.
Second baseman Freddy Sanchez was obtained with Alderson, and he'll start the season on the disabled list after offseason knee surgery. (Sabean gave Sanchez a 2-year $12million deal this offseason despite his injury problems). Now his shoulder is injured and there are actually questions whether Sanchez is "done."
Ryan Garko came over in exchange for Scott Barnes, leading some Bay Area fans to get very excited, but after playing sparingly last year, Sabean jettisoned the 29-year-old off the roster. The Mariners scooped him up, but promptly released Garko last week....in favor of Mike Sweeney - a 36-year old who has topped out at 72 games the last four seasons.
Garko was quickly signed by Texas, but generally players brought in to shore up the middle of a team's lineup don't get released twice in five months. It makes you wonder why he was touted as a difference maker in the first place - he has one career season with a WAR greater than 1.0, he has a poor glove and he is only a shade better than league average in wOBA for his career.
Two top ten prospects for a second baseman in worse shape than Brandon Webb. The jury is still out on Huff and DeRosa (though internal answer Nate Schierholtz has already lost his starting job), but the track record doesn't look good. Keep on adding those scary bats, Sabes. We'll keep laughin'.
NL West Report
This Week: 3 game home series vs. Padres, 3 game home series vs. Pirates.
News: Last season, Ryan Roberts converted a strong spring into a surprise spot on the 25-man roster. He had a very good regular season and was expected to make the roster, but a poor spring in conjunction with a strong March from Rusty Ryal led to Ryal taking the final roster spot over Roberts.
The magic has returned for the Rockies' 3rd starter from 2007. Despite pitching just 30 innings in the majors since going down early that year, Rodrigo Lopez was officially named the D-backs' fourth starter.
With Brandon Webb on the disabled list to start the season, he will follow Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy in the rotation. Fifth starter hopefuls Kevin Kulvey and Billy Buckner failed to capitalize on an opening in the rotation this spring, both getting optioned to AAA Reno. Arizona will go with four starters and eight relievers for the first two weeks of the season.
The organization has $40million remaining in deferred payments to a handlful of players, including Bernard Gilkey. That has been cut from $200million in 2004 - the price of buying a World Series team. Arizona's owner, Ken Kendrick, answers questions for Nick Piecoro.
Jim McClennan has conveniently displayed Arizona's Opening Day roster on the sidebar of AZSnakepit's front page. Of particular note, neither Zach Kroenke nor Clay Zavada won the lefty role in the pen. That spot was won by Jordan Norberto. Leo Rosales and Esmerling Vasquez won the other two open spots in the bullpen, while the team elected to go with one bench outfielder (Gerardo Parra) and three infielders (Augie Ojeda, Tony Abreu and Rusty Ryal).
Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries
|Player||Injury Type||Injury Date|
This Week: 3 game road series @ Pirates, 3 game road series @ Marlins.
News: Carlos Monasterios made the Opening Day roster. The 23-year-old was a Rule 5 pick from the Mets and has not pitched more than three games above A-ball.
Doug Mientkiewicz was released, a week after he himself requested it. The Dodgers notified "The Malphabet" that Garret Anderson would make the roster as the LH PH over him.
As reported here at some point last week, the Dodgers found a unique solution to a player with no options. Eric Stults was sold to the Hiroshima Carp of Japan.
Jason Repko was also released. Apparently none of these players who failed to make the Dodger roster were valuable enough to trade.
Russ Ortiz made the Opening Day roster in a deliciously ironic development. Remember just months ago, when no one wanted him on our AAA roster. Additionally, Ramon Ortiz will join Russ Ortiz in the bullpen.
With Jeff Weaver in the pen, Charlie Haeger as the fifth starter, and Cory Wade and Hong-Chih Kuo headed to the disabled list, the roster is pretty much set. Eric Stephen breaks down the roster conveniently for you at TrueBlueLA. Russell Martin should be good to go today.
Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries
This Week: 3 game road series @ Diamondbacks. 3 game road series @ Rockies.
News: Joe Thatcher is headed to the disabled list, so lefty Cesar Ramos won his spot in the bullpen. Adam Russell was the casualty just due to handedness.
The injury also Sopens up a spot for former first round pick Tim Stauffer. The right hander failed to unseat uber-prospect Mat Latos as the fifth starter, and without any options, he looked destined to be traded. Now he'll fill the long relief role.
Gaslamp Ball found a quote from Adrian Gonzalez. What a guy to have a on a rebuilding team.
San Diego Padres Injuries
|Player||Injury Type||Injury Date|
News: The Giants' roster is set. Emmanuel Burriss, Fred Lewis and Freddy Sanchez head to the 15-day DL. John Bowker won the starting RF job over Nate Schierholtz. Guillermo Mota won the final bullpen spot over Denny Bautista, and Todd Wellemeyer was officially purchased to become the fifth starter.
Of course, none of that is as interesting as Buster Posey being optioned to Fresno. Posey may not be ready, but he still has far more upside than Bengie Molina or Eli Whiteside, even for 2010. If the Giants were truly going for the window they have now (before they start paying three starting pitchers more than $50mil in 2012), they really should utilize Posey.
Especially if Posey will take the Giants to the World Series, as predicted by one "expert." From my vantage point, there's not a chance Posey makes that big of an impact - heck, I don't think Joe Mauer would make the Giants lineup dangerous enough.
So San Fran isn't playing for now. They're considering the future. If they wait a couple months to callup Posey, Brain Sabean could control Posey an extra year before free agency AND avoid Buster becoming a Super Two player. Perhaps they learned after the Lincecum process.