Tacoma’s Crowded Infield Will Force Releases
Mike Curto, Ryan Divish, and I “talked” about this on Twitter tonight, but for all the talk of the M’s 40-man roster crunch, they’re also going to have to make some decisions on some of the depth guys they have around, because there simply aren’t enough Triple-A roster spots for all the guys on the roster. Gabe Gross will probably likely be the odd man out in the outfield and either ask for or receive his walking papers in the next week, creating room for a Saunders-Halman-Peguero-Wilson outfield of strikeout mania.
On the infield, though, it’s not quite so easy. Dustin Ackley is going to play second base nearly every day, but the other four positions are extremely crowded.
For instance, third base will probably be manned by Alex Liddi, but that closes off any playing time for Matt Mangini and Luis Rodriguez. Liddi is considered the best prospect of the bunch, but I personally find Rodriguez more interesting, and think that he has a better chance of carving out a job with the team as a utility guy at some point. If they don’t have a job for him in Tacoma, though, they’ll probably have to cut him loose – he didn’t sign with the M’s over the winter in order to sit on the bench for the Rainiers.
Rodriguez could theoretically play some shortstop, but that’s where Sean Kazmar is expecting to play, and Josh Wilson could enter the mix if he loses out on the last bench spot to Chris Gimenez. If Wilson is passed through waivers and clears, Kazmar would be a candidate to be released, as they’d probably rather have Wilson as their depth shortstop option.
First base would appear to belong to Mike Carp on the surface, but there’s a very strong chance that he gets waived in order to open up a 40 man roster spot. Other candidates for the first base job would include Tui and Mangini, with the one not starting there probably getting a decent amount of at-bats at DH. .
Liddi, Kazmar, Rodriguez, Carp, Tui, and Mangini are essentially fighting over four jobs, and Josh Wilson might get thrown into that mix as well. This is why, when the M’s start to look at who gets tossed off the 40 man roster, Carp and Tui are both vulnerable. The team has other options for the positions in Tacoma who aren’t on the 40 man roster, and they could afford to lose either or both without really hurting the franchise. Don’t be too surprised if one of those two – or potentially both of them – aren’t members of the organization a week from now.