Well, Billy went a little cray this offseason, flipping and dealing and signing in a rather haphazard fashion. He did this thinking that he couldnt get a good 3B and that Chavez would be a nonfactor. Well, that was wrong. Its safe to say our lineup on opening day will feature Barton, Ellis, Pennington, Kouzmanoff, Suzuki, Davis, Crisp, Sweeney and Cust. Our pitching will have Sheets, Duke, Anderson, Braden, Gio, Devine, Bailey, Ziegler, Wuertz, Blevins, Breslow & Ramirez. That leaves 4 spots. We have about 6 or 7 guys who could take those spots. Uh oh....
-Eric Chavez. Oh great NOW youre looking healthy? Too bad we went and replaced you at 3B and our 1B of the future decided the future is now. With the money he's getting, he's getting a spot, no question. Its weird that because we have all but forgotten him at this point after being a nonfactor over the last 3 years, that I get the feeling many are hoping he gets hurt so we can keep our out of options players. In theory we could option Barton down again, but he's simply mashing too much and went from "local idiot who dove headfirst into 3 feet of water" to "Mark Grace 2.0". It would be a horrific decision to send Barton down at this point, but we have to look who's out of options. You could say the same of Pennington, but his only competition is Rosales, who also has an option left. Rosales does not make a 9 fig salary. Its not the same. Signing Cust hurt us too (somehow) as Fox and Chavez are both DHs now. Way to go and get a good hitter Billy...
-Landon Powell: I cant find anywhere if he's out of options or not, but I think he still has some. Here's a thought: instead of having a backup catcher in April and May, why not send him down and get him some everyday AB's at AAA until someone gets hurt or Zuki needs a day off. Thats another thing, Kurt is not a guy who has a big injury history, he could easily play every inning in April and it wouldnt be too big a deal.
-Gabe Gross: He was signed as a FA to a big league deal, why would he sign here if he knew he'd be in the minors? I dont think he will be sent down, if he stinks he'll be released but as of now, he has a spot on the bench as our 4th OF.
-Travis Buck: has an option left, pretty sure he will be at AAA all year.
-Adam Rosales: also has an option left, and will be first up if any injuries occur or if Pennington stinks.
-Jake Fox: Same as Patterson, and with a semi-"profile" name (fangraphs poster boy) also he hits HR. We dont have a lot of those types, and those types are good to have. In theory we shouldnt have signed Cust and just given the DH job to Fox, but Billy kept changing up his plans when other things happened.
Okay what does this all mean? It means that tough choices have to happen. Here's a bunch of different scenarios ranking them in no order.
1. Chavez, Gross, Patterson, Fox. This keeps all of the OOO guys and can build their value. The negative side of this is Jake Fox is the backup catcher. I dont see that as being a problem as the well-conditioned Suzuki can easily handle a month or 2 of playing every game. Put Fox at C in the blowout games if Kurt needs a break. Patterson can build trade value and we didnt sign Gross for no reason.
2. Powell, Gross, Patterson, Fox. There's no Chavez here, because he's in the starting lineup and Barton is sent down. I hate this option but its the only way we can keep all our players and let Powell be there too. Barton will sit at AAA and wait for our highest paid player to get hurt again....but what if he doesnt? Strange to think about, huh? Barton's young enough where more AAA time wont hurt him but he looks so good now...I dont like this but its an option to save our players.
3. Chavez, Powell, Gross, Fox. This might be our strongest bench, but we lose Patterson. That would bother people and would look bad on the front office.
4. Chavez, Powell, Rosales, Gross. Losing Fox and Patterson? Dont see this happening.
5. Powell, Gross, Patterson, Fox. This is the same as 2 but Chavez is gone. I think THIS is what Beane had in mind of our bench when he started this offseason, Chavez being healthy sure threw a monkeywrench in things. I like this one the most too.
6. Chavez, Gross, Fox, Rosales. In this scenario we just decide Patterson isnt worth having around and cut him. We also keep Fox as the temp backup C. Rosales is a better defender than Patterson anyway.
7. Chavez, Powell, Patterson, Fox. In this scenario we decide Gross was a bad sign and we give the 4th OF to Patterson.
I could go on but there's other things to think about like if Crisp isnt ready for opening day or if another member of the starting lineup goes down that would make things almost easier? Haha we talk about having an embarrassment of riches, but this is definitely the downside to that.