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Cintron Trade Clouds Bench Picture

I'm sitting here going back-and-forth trying to figure out who the Sox are going to keep on their 25 man roster. 23 spots seem guaranteed.

Southside 9 Starters (5) Relievers (6) Bench (3) Konerko Buehrle McCarthy Widger Iguchi Garcia Jenks Mackowiak Uribe Contreras Hermanson Cintron Crede Garland Politte Pierzynski Vazquez Cotts Dye Lopez/LOOGY Anderson Podsednik Thome
That leaves Pablo Ozuna, Ross Gload and Joe Borchard fighting for the final 2 roster spots.

This entry got out-of-hand long. I started writing about the skills that each of the final three roster spot candidates brought to the table, their current contract status, and tried to speculate their trade value. After about an hour, I came to the conclusion that Borchard is the odd man out, and just stopped writing. So here's an unedited stream-of-conciousness post you can read if you've got some time to kill. It's not pretty, but I didn't have the heart to delete the entire post.

  • Ozuna -- Last year he was the primary back-up at SS and 3B, but the acquisition of Mackowiak and Cintron bump him down to at least 3rd string at each position. His skillset is a small one; speed, hustle and seeing eye singles. Those are nice things to have at your disposal in the playoffs, but if that's all you bring to the table during the regular season, you should reserve a nice spot on the bench close to the David's™.

    Should he be the odd man out, it appears he could be shifted down to Charlotte, even though he appears to be out of options, having used them in 2000, 2002, & 2003. He signed a "split-contract," which would pay him $330K if he is playing in the minors, compared to $500K playing in the majors. The two sides wouldn't have structured his deal like they thought Charlotte was an option. Ozuna has virtually zero trade value, so it's either on the bench or a bus to Charlotte for him.

    Baseball Prospectus recently ran a largely humorous column that included an observation that I felt related pretty well to this situation.

    It is well-known that most fans would prefer to have a bandy-legged slap hitter with a cute nickname return to their team's roster year after year than have the club make a trade for a walloping stud to replace him.
    I wouldn't describe Gload or Borchard as a "walloping stud," but they both provide considerably more pop than The Secret Weapon™.
  • Gload -- Gload's primary role with the Sox is as insurance on the balky back of Jim Thome and arthritic hip of Paul Konerko. Ross can hit, maybe not well enough to earn himself a starting role anywhere, but better than almost every player in baseball who's not getting 400 ABs. Unlike last year when Carl Everett was there to pick up the shattered pieces of Frank Thomas, the Sox don't have the luxury of leaving a bat like Gload's off the roster.

    Gload is out of options. He either makes the team, or has to be put through waivers to be sent to AAA. Gload will not clear waivers. His trade value however, is limited because he plays the position where it's easiest to find good offensive production. Scanning some of the rosters around the league, I'm having a hard time finding anyone who would trade for Gload. The cross-town team could probably use him though.

  • Borchard -- Like Gload, Borchard is also out of options. Unlike Gload, however, Borchard's bat remains a mystery. He's a white Pedro Cerrano in that his bat is afraid of curveballs. What Borchard does bring to the table is league average defense at all three outfield positions, which would be nice to have.

There is one other scenario that could play out. And I feel this may be how it all works out in the end. In this scenario, Mackowiack would not be the primary back-up infielder, but would be the primary back-up at every outfield spot. Cintron would handle the infield duties. Borchard or Gload would fill the role of 5th OFer and pop of the bench. And Ozuna would be the Sox' Rally Monkey.

I don't know if I like Mackowiack being the 4th OFer, even though he's far better than Timo. I just fear he'll be used too much in centerfield, where I'm not that confident in his defensive abilities. (He did look very good in left field today though.)

As for the Diamondbacks, who "like Bajenaru's upside," I just don't see it. Last week I said I wasn't interested in just handing him a job.

He still has to prove something. He only has a 91 MPH fastball, and his slider hangs just like Viz. More than anything, though, I think his issues are between the ears.

There's no way a guy can have his K/9 and ERA numbers the last two years and simultaneously have nothing that will get major leaguer out consistently. He's got to believe he can get major leaguers out before he makes the club. Right now, he's just hoping.