The glass is half full

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Updated: February 15, 2016

The club put forth an impressive spring effort, posting the top record in the division. While it may be cause for some hope, the regular season is a different beast. The bullpen is noticeably improved and there is good potential at 2B. The rest of the club is pretty much as it was. If the youth can step up and deliver and the aging veterans can stay healthy the club may finally have rounded the corner and can look forward to improving on it dismal records of the previous two seasons.

Here’s a breakdown of the roster:

SP Jose Durango
SP John Gaines
SP Christian George
SP Takanibu Murata
SP Larry Schultz

An area needing significant improvement and lacking a go-to guy. The club went big, signing Jose Durango to a 4 year $61 million contract. He’ll be followed by Gaines and George who return for their 3rd season with the club. They are followed by the enigmatic Takanibu Murata who appears to be in permanent decline and looked shockingly bad in spring camp. Picked up as a free agent, Larry Schultz rounds out the rotation.

Another season with a stitched together group of FAs and old hands. Durango will have to lead a lackluster group who are really just holding down the fort until the farm system can deliver real talent. Grade : C+

CL Ricardo Perez
MR Miguel Mercado
MR Michael Smallbridge
MR Forrest Murphy
MR Nathan O’Reilly
MR Guillermo Mejia
MR Larry Burns

Unable to do much with the rotation a lot of effort went into rebuilding the bullpen. Pérez is clearly the class of the ‘pen and the club signed him to a 1 year extension through 2024. Mercado and FA signing Smallbridge will handle the setup duties. After a disappointing stint as a starter, Murphy moves to the pen to do the heavy lifting of eating innings. O’Reilly is the same story to a lesser degree. Free agent Mejía is an upgrade. Burns returns looking to contribute more than last season’s 6 innings pitched.

Some useful arms added. If Murphy and O’Reilly respond well to bullpen duty and Burns can add some innings this group might put in some respectable work. They might even help lift the starters slightly. Grade : B-

C Yosuke Imai
C Hirotsugu Suzuki
C Jim Thompson

Ownership acquired Thompson in the rule 5 draft with an eye towards moving Imai to 1B. It was felt the mileage of catching was wearing his old frame down. Manager Shinichi Seiki had different ideas. Look for Imai and Suzuki to platoon behind the plate with Suzuki and Thomson doing some DH duty. Thompson will also be doing backup duty.

Suzuki looked strong in the spring, but is he really ready to start? Age might be slowing Imai down. If so the he may respond well to splitting duties. Thompson is a good stick so he may do his best work as a DH. Grade : C

1B Miguel Salinas

First base has been a perpetual problem. Free agent Salinas was brought in on a one year deal specifically to bring some offense and hold down the position for one season after Mgr Seiki made it clear he wouldn’t play Imai at first. He looked terrible in spring. Hopefully he’s just a slow starter. Some are very concerned he may not be an answer.

Looks like first base wlll be more questions than answers again this season. Grade : D-

2B Pancho Moreno
2B Yeong-hun Kim

Another rule 5 acquisition, Moreno was being looked at to hold down the position to give Kim some more years to season at AAA. Both youngsters impressed in the spring. Moreno gets the nod to start with Kim getting a feel for the bigs as the backup.

Both young and green and highly talented. Should be fun to watch. Grade : B+

3B Ralph Gunther

At 35 years, Gunther just keeps bringing his lunchbox and blue collar effort to the hot corner and defying time. He’s had a strong spring and looks to keep on rolling, which will be good enough for another season.

Iron man is fun to watch but age has got to catch up to him eventually. Grade : C+

SS Roberto Berroa
SS Rubén Diaz

Another source of dissension between the Owner and Manager was the role of Diaz. After winning a Gold Glove for his play at 2B last year, the Owner wanted to move him back to his natural position at shortstop. The Manager wants him to play utility infielder and start Berroa at short.

Diaz is clearly the better glove and out hit Berroa last season. While Berroa has more upside with the bat, there is no sign he’ll achieve it. D-

LF Rod Martin
LF Ronald McCall
CF Júlio Medina
RF Motoki Suzuki

Martin and McCall were signed through free agency. Suzuki had a breakthrough season last year and started to show signs of becoming a standout player. Medina lapsed and will be looking to better his results.

Of the two placeholder signings, Martin could have a real impact. He was signed late last season when the club had decided they were not going to reach accord with Ricard Longoria. He should be a suitable replacement. The pair of Suzuki/Medina will in sum, probably improve slightly. Grade : B-