One of the rites of spring in some circles seems to be the riot over who will break camp in the 24th and 25th roster spots. All too often one factor or another, be it minor league options, veteran presence, pinch-running, grit, or bullpen handedness, figures a little more prominently than we’d like and leads to a suboptimal decision. And yes, Clement being sent down, while it increasingly appears that Sweeney has beat out Shelton, contributes to a brief spurt of depressing news. It’s not the end of the world.
The Billy Beane notion of breaking the season into thirds for roster-construction purposes gets cited often enough to be a tad cliche, but the Opening Day roster is not carved in stone. Here are some players who have graced it in years past:
These are varying degrees of mistakes and guys who weren’t necessarily bad ideas but didn’t work out. If you’ve forgotten them, it’s partly because they weren’t around long enough to do as much damage as the Everetts and Vidros of the world. Once the games start, there’s still time to fine-tune things and let people play themselves into or out of their roles. Part of that process is that some players will always end up with a few more times at bat or on the mound than they should, and others a few less. In the big picture, it may make a difference of a run here or there at most, the front office will still have the same challenge of balancing small sample size performances against projections and scouting, but at least it’ll be small sample sizes that counted for something.