Thursday, February 14, 2013
Yes, they were invited to spring training
By David Schoenfield
Let's take a quick scroll through the spring training non-roster invitees and point out some of the more interesting names. I didn't include minor league non-roster players, guys like Oscar Taveras or Taijuan Walker; this is more a "Wait, that guy is still around?" list. But some of these guys do have a good shot at making the big league roster.
Yankees: Jayson Nix, Matt Diaz, Dan Johnson
Nix and Diaz both have a good shot at making the team, with Nix repeating his role as backup infielder in order to keep Eduardo Nunez's hands of stone off the field as much as possible. Diaz takes over the Andruw Jones platoon spot.
Orioles: Zach Braddock, Daniel Schlereth, Travis Ishikawa, Lew Ford
Ishikawa has a pretty good chance to stick as a pinch-hitter, part-time DH, defensive sub at first base. Schlereth was a first-round pick by Arizona in 2008, but hasn't been able to throw enough strikes. If Brian Matusz goes into the rotation, he or Braddock could serve as a lefty in the pen.
Rays: Jamey Wright, Shelley Duncan, Mike Fontenot
The non-roster guy we care about is Wil Myers.
Blue Jays: Rich Thompson, Adam Loewen
That's Rich Thompson, the Australian reliever, not the minor league outfielder (he's in Tampa's camp). I always thought Thompson had a chance to be a good reliever, and he did pitch pretty well with the Angels in 2011.
Red Sox: Lyle Overbay, Ryan Sweeney, Drew Sutton
I could see all three making the team: Sutton as the utility infielder; Sweeney beating out Daniel Nava to platoon with Jonny Gomes in left; and Overbay as a backup first baseman/DH/pinch-hitter. Not that AL teams pinch-hit much anymore.
Tigers: Don Kelly
It's Jim Leyland's favorite good-luck charm!
White Sox: Zach Stewart
Stewart had 35.2 innings in the big leagues last year, and might have been the worst pitcher in baseball: 8.58 ERA, 58 hits allowed, 14 home runs. That's about as brutal as it gets. Once thought of a prospect, he's probably seen his final days in the big leagues.
Royals: George Sherrill, Dan Wheeler, Miguel Tejada, Brandon Wood
Yes, that Miguel Tejada.
Indians: Scott Kazmir, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Matt Capps, Jason Giambi, Ryan Raburn, Matt LaPorta, Jeremy Hermida, Ben Francisco
Cleveland easily wins the gold star for most interesting list of spring training invites. Giambi is the best bet to actually make the team.
Twins: Nick Blackburn, Samuel Deduno, Rich Harden, Jeff Clement
Ahh, Jeff Clement, part of that great 2005 draft class. The Mariners took him over Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen and Jay Bruce.
A’s: Hideki Okajima, Scott Moore
Okajima had 0.94 ERA in 47.2 innings in Japan last year.
Rangers: Randy Wells, Jeff Baker, Brandon Snyder
If Jurickson Profar starts the year in the minors, Baker or Snyder could hang around as a utility guy.
Angels: Bill Hall
He'll always have 2006.
Mariners: Jon Garland, Jeremy Bonderman
Garland and Bonderman will battle Blake Beavan for the fifth spot in the rotation.
Astros: Erik Bedard, Rick Ankiel
Bedard had a 5.01 ERA with the Pirates, but he still struck out 118 in 125.2 innings. He should make the team, with the Astros hoping he pitches well enough that they can flip him at the deadline.
Nationals: Bill Bray, Micah Owings
The Nationals are searching for a lefty reliever, so Bray will get a long look. Owings is apparently strictly a position player now.
Braves: Blake DeWitt
The non-roster guy who could stick is minor league catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis, who slugged .607 between A and Double-A. He's a 26-year-old, but hadn't played baseball for several years until returning to junior college and getting drafted in 2010.
Phillies: Yuniesky Betancourt, Aaron Cook
I mean, really? Both Yuniesky Betancourt and Aaron Cook? I would love to see Betancourt playing shortstop behind Cook.
Mets: Scott Atchison, LaTroy Hawkins, Aaron Laffey, Marlon Byrd
Hawkins is now 32nd on the all-time games pitched list. With 50 games he would move up to 21st. Job well done, Mr. Hawkins.
Marlins: John Maine, Chad Qualls, Kevin Slowey, Michael Wuertz, Matt Downs, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Austin Kearns
If you're looking for the definition of replacement level player, this is it.
Reds: Armando Galarraga, Miguel Olivo
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. A year ago, Olivo was hitting cleanup for the Mariners; now he's a mere non-roster invitee.
Cardinals: Rob Johnson, J.R. Towles
I suppose Johnson or Towles could beat out Tony Cruz for the backup catcher spot. I'll be a little more interested in watching the Shelby Miller-Trevor Rosenthal-Joe Kelly battle for the rotation.
Brewers: Bobby Crosby
The 2004 AL Rookie of the Year with the A's, Crosby last played in the majors in 2010 and apparently nowhere the past two seasons.
Pirates: Brandon Inge, Felix Pie
Whatever happened to Felix Pie? Now you know.
Cubs: Cory Wade, Hisanori Takahashi, Brent Lillibridge, Darnell McDonald, Brian Bogusevic
Wade had a 2.04 ERA with the Yankees in 2011, 6.46 in 2012. Do you feel lucky, Cubs fans?
Giants: Ramon Ramirez, Wilson Valdez
The Giants list just eight non-roster invites, the fewest of any team. Ramirez had a 4.24 ERA with the Mets, so certainly could make the club as a mop-up guy in the pen.
Dodgers: Dallas McPherson, Peter Moylan, Kevin Gregg, Tony Gwynn
Would McPherson ever have made it if he had been able to stay healthy? For Baseball America's No. 12 prospect heading into 2005 after slugging 40 homers in the minors, I have my doubts. He struck out 169 times in the minors that year with just 57 walks. I suppose the best-case scenario would have been a Mark Reynolds type of career.
Diamondbacks: Kila Ka'aihue, Jeremy Reed
Remember Reed? Hit .373 in the minors in 2003, 70 walks, 36 strikeouts, 45 steals, center fielder. Traded to Seattle in the Freddy Garcia deal. Never hit enough in the majors. Still hanging around.
Padres: Freddy Garcia, Tim Stauffer
Speaking of Garcia ... as some of the Padres' young starters rehab from various injuries, he has a good shot of making the Opening Day squad.
Rockies: Chris Volstad, Miguel Batista
I'll predict that going to Colorado will not turn around Volstad's career. Batista turns 42 in a few days. He made his major league debut way back in 1992, pitching in relief for the Pirates. His teammates that day included Kirk Gibson, Barry Bonds and Gary Redus. Dale Murphy played for the Phillies. Just another reason we love this game.