FanPost

Handicap the 25 Man

Wanted to toss around who you all thought would make the opening day roster.
Guaranteed:

Due to their guaranteed salaries, these players, if healthy, are virtually guaranteed to be on the 25 man roster on opening day: Snyder, Lee, Lowrie, Cust, Q, Wandy, Myers, Happ, and Lyon

Based on 2011 performance, Lopez, Downs and Norris are guaranteed roster spots as well.

So after slotting in the players whose positions are "guaranteed" (a total of 12 spots), we're left with 12 open spots: 2B, 3B, RF, CF, LF, 2 bench spots, 1 SP, and 5 RP spots. Let's take it position by position:

2B: Based on what we've seen, unless he tanks, Altuve is going to be the 2B. The only way he doesn't make the roster is if he plays poorly in ST AND multiple infielders make a strong case, giving the decision makers the idea to move Altuve to AAA and put Downs at 2B, opening up another bench spot.

3B: Chris Johnson, Brett Wallace, and Jimmy Paredes are the primary contenders for this position. It's not inconceivable that Marwin Gonzalez plays out of his mind, making a case for moving him to starting SS and Lowrie to 3B, or that Downs makes a case for starting 3B. I think that Johnson enters ST in the lead, if for no other reason than that he has nothing left to gain from being sent down. Paredes, at only 23, is young enough and has a high enough ceiling that AAA could really help him, and Wallace could use AAA to find his power (and possibly work on playing multiple positions). This will be the funnest battle to watch over the next month, because the starting 3B job is very likely to be decided by who performs the best out of CJ, Wally, and Paredes.

RF: I think Bogusevic is the overwhelming favorite, based on his 2011 performance, his overall trajectory, and the fact that he doesn't have any options remaining, so he can't be sent down without passing through waivers, which I think a team would take him. Unless he plays really poorly, he'll be at least part of a platoon in RF.

CF: Jordan Schafer has to enter as the favorite here as well, based on the fact that he is also out of options and would be unlikely to pass through waivers. Even if he plays poorly in spring, he's very likely to make the roster and be at worst a bench outfielder and defensive replacement.

LF: Based on what we've been told and his 2011 performance, JD Martinez is the overwhelming favorite here. At this point for him not to make the team, he'd have to have an awful spring combined with a tremendous spring by a couple of other players. He does have options remaining.

Bench: Here's where it gets dicey. There are 2 spots here, and traditionally 1 would be filled by a backup SS/IF with the other going to a backup CF/OF. In that case, the frontrunners would be Marwin Gonzalez and Jason Bourgeois, respectively. As a Rule 5 pick, Gonzalez must stay on the 25 man or be sent back to the Cubs. Bourgeois had a very good 2011 and has proven to be a viable 4th OF and excellent basestealer. That said, there are endless possibilities and options. Assuming Altuve, and CJ are your 2B/3B, and Downs is your 1st bench IF, the list includes Wallace, Paredes, Shuck, F Mart, Castro (if healthy), Ruggiano, Buck, Barnes, Goebbert, Bixler, Sanchez, Hernandez, Snyder, Thurston, and Moore. The only position players I don't feel have any chance to make the roster are Corporan, Springer, DeShields, Villar, and Singleton.

SP: Like 3B, the 5th starter job will be fun to watch. In my opinion, the out-of-options Harrell and Sosa enter as the leaders, but they'll still have to pitch very well to earn the job. Many people are listing Livan Hernandez as the frontrunner, but I don't see it. The 40 man is full and there really aren't any players I think Houston is ready to cut loose to make room for a 37 year old. If Harrell/Sosa falter, the pecking order I would list right now would be Kyle Weiland, Aneury Rodriguez, and Jordan Lyles being given 1st dibs, then Hernandez and Zack Duke, followed by Xavier Cedeno and Paul Clemens as extreme long shots. Harrell, Sosa, Weiland, and Aneury have a chance to earn a relief role if they can't lock down the 5th starter spot, although I think all of those players are likely to be kept as starters in AAA in that case.

RPs: Another place where a lot can happen. You have to think David Carpenter has a pretty strong case for a roster spot due to his profile and 2011 #'s. Rhiner Cruz, the other Rule 5 pick, has to stay on the 25 man or be sent back to his former team, but I think he'll have to put up a solid performance to avoid that fate. He's got the heat so it's certainly possible. 4 pitchers put up good #'s in 2011 and deserve a longer than normal look in spring: Juan Abreu, Fernando Rodriguez, Enerio Del Rosario, and Sergio Escalona. The bullpen will feature at least 1 lefty, and Wesley Wright is out of options, so he may be the leader for the LOOGY role. Others in the mix include Fernando Abad, Arcenio Leon, Jorge De Leon, Henry Villar, Lance Pendleton, and Jose Valdez.

For me, this will be a very exciting spring, and I hope the decisions are tough because of too many players doing well.

Here's my prediction:

CF Schafer
2B Altuve
LF Martinez
1B Lee
RF Bogusevic
3B Johnson
SS Lowrie
C Snyder

Bench: Cust, Downs, Q, Marwin, Bourgeois

Rotation: Wandy, Norris, Myers, Happ, Sosa

Bullpen: Harrell, Wright, Cruz, Abreu, Carpenter, Lopez, Lyon
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