Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2011 Roster Projections

I've just taken a stab at projecting next year's minor league rosters. Texas has a lot of personnel decisions to make in the lower levels, particularly the two A-ball squads, as both the pitching and position depth is off the charts deep. As for the upper levels of the system, well, it's not all that pretty and the lack of major league ready minor leaguers will make it difficult for TX to make trades this off-season without also poaching players from the big club. You can find it in the "2010 System Rosters" workbook in the sidebar.

I've also got a list there of all the players who are playing winter ball that I know of, in addition to a list of players who might be protected on the 40 before this year's draft. There are not a lot of difficult choices to make in that respect. You protect Beltre, Castillo, and, err, well, then you just have to decide which of our starting pitchers who pitched in A ball last year might get selected and stashed on a big league roster for the year. I say it is unlikely that any are close enough to the bigs to merit a Rule5 selection. In general, relievers are the primary pitching crop of the Rule 5, and other than maybe Hamburger or one or more of the numerous lefties in the upper minors (B.Jones, Ben Snyder, Kasey Kiker) there just aren't a lot of decisions to be made so far.

In terms of managing the pitching depth in the lower levels, TX took a slightly different approach during the 2010 season. Instead of leaving their younger 1st or 2nd year pitchers in extended, waiting for rotation spots to open, or, using a split-start system (2 starters splitting 1/2 a game), they actually put the younger players in the rotation to begin the year, and put the older 1st/2nd year college starters in the bullpen.

To manage the younger starter's innings they were moved to the bullpen in late July and the college starters moved into rotation spots. So, I'm assuming they will do this again in 2011. Essentially I think it boils down to this: because of he perennial quality of their pitching depth in the lower levels they have decided to place the 12-13 best pitchers on full-season clubs to begin the season, period. So, to begin the 2011 season it is once again likely that starters will largely comprise the bullpen of the two A-ball clubs while bullpen arms proper will likely begin in extended.

This still doesn't make sense to me really as it seems to clog up the promotion pathway for starters throughout the system. I guess TX figures that pitchers can still progress apace no matter their role or level, and likely think of them in terms of a 2 year plan rather than worrying where they are or what role they are in during any single season. At least, that is how the seem to be viewing the situation now.

As for the upper levels, there is a depth problem in the infield (like last year) so I think you will see TX sign a few veteran middle infielders with some ML experience for AAA (like last year, think Petit, German, Iribarren), and sign some career minor leaguers for AA or take a couple of them in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 (in addition to at least 1 catcher per usual practice). They also need a few outfielders for AAA; that club has been stripped, so expect to see a lot of journeymen there next year, or a few of the minor league free agents from the club re-signed.

Just as an aside, I was very disappointed to learn that Danny "Meathead" Gutierrez's injury (unspecified as yet per Jason Cole) prematurely ended his AFL stint. Well, actually, I was disappointed that such a low-character guy was essentially gifted a coveted AFL roster spot when so many better human beings in the system merited one in his stead. Whatever the case, my disappointment lies of course, in part, with his injury, as you never like to see a player injured of course, but primarily because it likely eliminated the possibility that he would be selected in this year's Rule5 draft and ushered out of this organization. If you still believe that character is unrelated a to a talented player's ceiling (or injury history in fact), DGut is the exemplary counterargument, and a consistent reminder that the TX scouting staff and front office failed to observe their own "high character" mantra that we've heard for the last 2-3 years when they made the decision to trade for him.

See DGut discursus: here, here, here, here, here.

Speaking of low character guys, one would have to imagine that Christian Santana is a candidate to be released when his PED suspension expires at the end of April. Another candidate who might (should?) be released: suspended (yet again) outfielder Miguel Velazquez, who should probably plan to ply his trade in Puerto Rican winter ball from here on out.


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