What is the bench going to look like?
By Lou Olsen
Now that new manager Ron Roenicke has a better feel for each of his guys, what I want to know is, what will the bench look like? He spoke about his preliminary plans with Tom Haudricort and I am not sure that I like them. So, what I am going to do, is show you what Macha is thinking and then tell you what I am thinking.
It breaks down to 2 IF’s and 2 OF’s in RR’s mind.
Ron Likes – Craig Counsell, Luis Cruz, and possibly Eric Almonte
Lou’s turn – Obviously Craig Counsell is going to be one of your bench guys, so that is the end of that discussion. I have always felt pretty good about having Luis Cruz making the roster this season, even though his time in the major’s with Pittsburgh was more forgettable than Julia Roberts marriage to Lyle Lovett. Last year he had a real break out season in Nashville, he also recorded his 1,000th minor league hit on the last day of the season. This guy has earned the right to make the opening day roster, if he performs well starting next week. As for Almonte, he is 33 years old and a career minor leaguer. He has almost no power, but has a strong track record of getting on base. In his 13 years in the minor leagues he has .349 OBP, which is kind of impressive. I wish we had better options at middle infield of the bench. Believe me when I tell you that Betancourt could be a here today gone tomorrow type of player, so the more depth we have at middle infield the better. Let’s just hope that by next year Scooter Gennet is ready to step up to the big leagues, or Eric Arnett blows our mind this spring.
Ron Likes – (assuming Carlos Gomez is the starting CF) Mark Kotsay and Chris Dickerson
Lou’s Turn – I really wish we could undo the Mark Kotsay deal. The guy just does not fit on a NL roster with a first baseman who plays every single day. At this stage of his career, he is nothing more than a pinch hitter. Oddly enough some of Roenicke’s comments elude to this as well, so I am not the only one thinking that. Kotsay is going to be one of your bench players and I guess they will label him as corner outfield help. Chris Dickerson should be on the roster, no questions asked. In fact, I still think that he could become the everyday Center Fielder if the Carols Gomez experiment blows up. Even though they invited a ton of outfielders to camp, it is clear to me that this is probably the best situation for outfield “benchies”.
One overall problem with all of this is that Counsell, Kotsay, and Dickerson are all left handed batters. Fortunately Luiz Cruz and Eric Almonte are righties, but that still leaves us with three lefties and a righty on the bench. Over time the roster will evolve, plus we will get Mat Gamel in there somehow……aww crap he bats left too! Well, this is why I am not the manager of a major league baseball team. If we have five players on our bench and four of them are left handed, teams will always use left handed pitchers against us late in games. We need less southpaw and more…..regular paw……I guess. As always, this is nothing more than speculation. Some invitee could just blow the doors of off Maryvale and win a roster spot this spring, then this could all fall apart. As for right now, I think Ron has the right idea for the bench.
Minor Injury Update: Corey Hart has a muscle strain on his right side. He injured himself during a defensive drill at this morning’s workout. Roenicke says that he might miss a couple of days. Hart spoke about the injury after it happened:
"I was making a throw from the outfield and my front foot slipped. There was some dew on the grass. I felt some tightness. I tried making another throw and still felt it, then I tried another and it was the same, so I figured I better stop. It might be a little strain. Hopefully, me stopping when I did helped. I’ll see how it feels (Sunday)."