M’s Finalize Roster
The Mariners just made three roster moves to shift from their 30 man roster down to the 25 man group that will start the season as active members on Wednesday. Because of the strange rules regarding the team’s roster beginning in Japan, they first announced 28 active members of the roster – all of whom are now eligible to be on the US opening day roster – and then deactivated three players from that roster to get down to 25 for the games in Japan.
To go from 30 down to 28, Carlos Peguero and Chance Ruffin were optioned to Tacoma, and Guillermo Quiroz was re-assigned to minor league camp. This actually brought them to 27, but the team also had to include Kevin Millwood on the 28 man roster, since he’s scheduled to open the US part of the season with the team. Munenori Kawasaki and Erasmo Ramirez also had their contracts purchased, but they were already on the travel roster, so this just gets them on the 40 man. Subtracting Peguero, Ruffin, and Quiroz while adding Millwood pushed them from 30 to 28.
To get down to 25, the team deactivated Millwood, Hector Noesi, and Hisashi Iwakuma for the two games in Japan. While all three will be added back to the roster before the team resumes play over here, their spots for the first two games will go to Alex Liddi, Steve Delebar, and Charlie Furbush. Those three will be eligible to play in the first two games, and then are all likely ticketed for Tacoma before the team opens play in Oakland next week.
From what I’ve gathered, it sounds like the team simply believes that Ramirez is capable of getting big league hitters out right now, and they’re going to break him in as a reliever. They’re not converting him to the bullpen like the team did with Brandon Morrow, but they believe he can get his feet wet as a middle reliever and still be able to move back into the rotation if an opportunity presents itself. This used to be a very normal way to break in rookie pitchers (Earl Weaver is a big proponent of the plan), so don’t freak out and think the team is wasting Ramirez in the pen. They just don’t think he has much left to learn in the minors, and believe that having a strike-thrower in the pen will be an asset.
It’s possible that they could still change their minds before next week and give that last bullpen spot to Furbush, but everything I’m hearing says that Ramirez has made the squad. Will be interesting to see how Wedge chooses to use him, since they’re already carrying Iwakuma as a long guy.