Taking a stab at 25 …
At this point, with what seems like half the state of Arizona invited to Padres’ camp, it might be a little pointless to try and project the 25-man Opening Day roster. It makes about as much sense to do this now, on February 11, as it does to predict the weather (well, in places not named San Diego) or how my 401k will perform in 2009.
Spring Training, after all, figures to breed all sorts of competition and, as always, there are a few surprises. Like last spring … who could have figured Jody Gerut would have made the team last February? Or that the team would trade for Justin Huber (remember him) during the final week of Spring Training?
So anyway, let’s give this a shot. We’ll assume the Padres will carry 12 pitchers to start the season, which is what manager Bud Black typically likes to do and likely will with 16 games in the first 17 days.
Pitchers (12): Cha Seung Baek, Heath Bell, Chris Britton, Kevin Correia, Josh Geer, Justin Hampson, Cla Meredith, Ivan Nova, Jake Peavy, Chad Reineke, Mark Worrell, Chris Young.
I think Correia emerges as the No. 4 starter in the rotation with Geer, if he’s healthy, sliding in at No. 5. Reineke would be the long man, though he could start as well. As for Nova, a Rule 5 pick, he must stick on the roster the entire season or be offered back to the Yankees. I think he has more upside than some of the other Rule 5 picks in the past. But he’ll need to show something this spring. Bell is the closer with Britton the primary set-up man, though Meredith and Worrell could get looks here as well.
Catchers (2): Henry Blanco, Nick Hundley.
This is pretty much set in stone, barring injury. Expect Hundley to catch at least four times a week, possibly more. He showed in his rookie stint last summer that he can handle this staff and that he’s extremely durable. Blanco will get his share of playing time as well, but Hundley will handle the bulk of the catching duties. His arm proved to be a real deterant to the running game last season, which is something the Padres have sorely missed.
Infielders (5): Chris Burke, David Eckstein, Adrian Gonzalez, Edgar Gonzalez, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Luis Rodriguez.
Here’s something to keep an eye on: What happens to speedy Everth Cabrera, the shortstop who was picked in the Rule 5 draft in December. He’s fast, regarded as a good defender and plays a position that is something of a black hole in the organization. But that was before the Padres signed Burke (a player Kevin Towers really likes) and Eckstein. Burke and the older Gonzalez can help you more now but the Rockies would surely take Cabrera back, as they weren’t happy about losing him. Do Burke or Edgar Gonzalez both make the team?
Outfielders (5): Cliff Floyd, Brian Giles, Jody Gerut, Scott Hairston, Chase Headley.
I’m not sure the Padres need to keep five outfielders but you have to remember that Floyd won’t see a whole lot of time in the field. He’ll DH in American League parks in Interleague play and be the primary pinch-hitter off the bench. I guess if Kevin Kouzmanoff’s shoulder is not sound by Opening Day (he told me last week he was fine), then Headley would start at third base and you would need five outfielders. Getting Hairston at-bats might be difficult as Giles, Headley and Gerut figure to play almost every day.
Anyway, that was an interesting exercise to go through. So let me know what you think.