Two weeks from today, the Mariners will play their regular-season opener against the Twins in Minneapolis.
As of this morning, there are 44 players in the big league camp competing for the 25 Opening Day roster spots. That means — my Butte Valley High School math teacher would insist — that there are 19 more players than openings.
Therefore, it’s time for another visit from the Roster Doctor for some Opening Day roster assistance.
The way the Doc sees it, the Mariners will open the season with 12 pitchers, two catchers, six infielders and five outfielders.
And so, without further adieu, here is the Doctor’s predicted Opening Day roster. And remember, don’t take this to the bank.
Comment: The Doctor expects right-hander Brandon Morrow to start the season on the 15-day disabled list and join Triple-A Tacoma, where he will build his arm strength to the point where he can throw 100 pitches on any given start. Also, the bullpen eventually will include right-handed closer Chad Cordero and left-handed setup man Tyler Johnson.
Comment: With so many designated hitter candidates and Johnson having slightly better defensive skills, it appears that left-handed hitting Jeff Clement could be headed back to Tacoma.
Comment: Non-roster invitee Chris Shelton has had an outstanding camp and shown that he is a big-league hitter. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any room for him in Seattle.
Ken Griffey Jr.
Comment: The Doctor believes it will come down to either Balentien or Mike Morse. Both are out of Minor League options and would have to clear waivers to be sent down. Balentien has more upside because he can play all three outfield positions a little better than Morse, who is a better overall hitter. The doctor (and myself) hope that if he doesn’t make it here, Morse gets a chance to play for a National League club. He would get far more at-bats and could become another Greg Dobbs.
Naturally, this is all predicated on the Mariners standing pat and not making any trades between now and Opening Day. GM Jack Zduriencik and his assistants are constantly on the lookout (and the phone) searching for ways to improve the team and a deal naturally would force the Roster Doctor to re-evaluate.
— Jim Street