This past weekend, I made the trek out to Peoria and caught a couple of games and practices. A week before that, I made a projection for the 2016 Padres opening day roster. The combination of these two things had me thinking a lot about the Padres roster options. Let me share a few of these in bullet point outline format:
- Adam Rosales might be a key to the roster's construction. In my projection, I didn't even mention the former Ranger. Having now seen him written into the lineup a few times and seeing him practice with the starters in camp has me realizing this is a mistake. Rosales has experience playing all over the diamond (aside from catching). He even pitched a couple games in 2015. He is also a right-handed bat, which might work out well given the some of the other roster construction. Starting 2B Cory Spangenberg bats from the left, so Rosales could form a platoon there. If the fragile Wil Myers were to miss time, Rosales could potentially platoon at 1B with Brett Wallace. His ability to play SS would make him a back up at SS as well. He's still a non-roster invite, which means he's not currently on the 40 man roster, but there should be at least 2-4 roster openings by Opening Day.
- Skip Schumaker is another non-roster invite with big league experience. In my projection, I called for Travis Jankowski to be the teams 4th OF and provide cover for all 3 positions. However, as mentioned by some in the comments, it would seem that maybe he would be better served with some more AAA time. If that comes to pass, Schumaker could serve a similar role as the one I carved out for Jankowski. He has played all 3 OF positions, but his age and limited experience in CF might make that position a stretch for him whereas it's a natural fit for Jankowski. Nevertheless, it could still work since projected starting LF Jon Jay can play CF and would allow Schmuaker to me more of an emergency CF should something happen to Melvin Upton Jr. Skip is also left handed, so maybe Jay could rotate between CF and LF depending on the opposing pitcher and allow Skip and Melvin to form a virtual platoon, if needed.
- Jose Pirela did get a mention in my projection as a guy who might get the call to the 25 man roster at the expense of Alexi Amarista. That still might be his path, but I've seem some usage of him that makes me wonder. The structure of the Padres bench in my roster construction was that there'd be 2 backup OFs and 2 backup INFs. However, some of the players have the versatility to play both INF and OF positions. This is true of Pirela, who has been used in the OF (he is most experienced as a 2B). Perhaps instead of 2 backup OFs, the Padres go with 1 true backup OF and set of 3 INF where a couple can play OF (like Pirela, Rosales or Schumaker in addition to Amarista).
- Jabari Blash has impressed with his work ethic and his power in the minors. However, if I made you a believer in the 3 INF, 1 OF bench option above then Blash's spot has a little more competition than before. Blash is RH as are Rosales and Pirela and Blash doesn't play CF like lefties Jankowski and Schumaker.
- Colin Rea seems like a guy the Padres really like and he might be getting pretty close to a lock for the 4th spot in the rotation, which would leave the 5th starter as the only open competition. Robbie Erlin and Brandon Maurer seem like the main contenders for that spot, but can't count out Carlos Villanueva, Luis Perdomo, Brandon Morrow, Drew Pomeranz and Phillip Humber yet.
- My least confident projection for the Opening Day roster was Buddy Baumann. An injury to the former Royals minor leaguer plus the signing of Matt Thornton has decreased my confidence even more. I like Thornton as the lefty option out of the 'pen. Pomeranz is another lefty, but I think they'll use him as more than just a LOOGY. It's quite early in this process though (as evidenced by Thornton and Baumann not getting a chance to pitch in games yet). Many of the other competitors (Casey Janssen, Blake Smith, Josh Martin, Cory Mazzoni, Jose Torres, Johnny Hellweg, Tayron Guerrero, Rich Garces and Leonel Campos) have each pitched 2 games each with only a couple getting through both clean (no runs).
- One thing we do know (or two things depending on how you want to count them and are not Tom Hanks' character in Bridge of Spies) is that Martires Arias and Carlos Asuaje will not make the Opening Day roster. Both have been reassigned to the minor league camp. The long and lanky Arias is rumored to be getting to work on converting his delivery to a Randy Johnson-esque sidearm slot. Asuaje, acquired in the Craig Kimbrel trade, was rumored to have an outside shot of competing for roster spot as a reserve INF, but it looks like that will have to wait a year. Arias will likely end up with the Lake Elsinore Storm while Asuaje seems like he will either be headed to the San Antonio Missions to repeat AA or get his first shot at AAA with the El Paso Chihuahuas.