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Long Live The Process

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We have been waiting all winter for the Royals’ to take the field, and yesterday they did. Given the 13-3 pasting they received at the hands of the Texas Rangers, maybe we were too hasty to be wishing for the off-season to end. After taking an early 1-0, lead the Royals ended up losing the ‘major league’ portion of this game 6-2. From the sixth inning on, the teams were generally AAA and AA players, but the results were no better; with the Royals falling 7-1 in that portion of the contest.

Now, some will make the case that the results of any spring training game are irrelevant. I am not so sure about that, but I am reasonably confident that the outcome of the first spring training game is certainly not very important. Given that last spring it became fashionable in the Royals’ blogosphere to discount any mention of spring training results or statistics (I wrote a column last spring on Greinke and Meche’s poor spring training numbers, which basically concluded that those numbers did not mean much of anything, AND WAS SKEWERED FOR EVEN DISCUSSING IT) I am somewhat hesitant to even bring up individual performances from yesterday, but here are some observations anyway.

The Process had a shining moment to start the game as Scott Podsednik singled, stole second and took third on the throw. Jason Kendall then hit a ground ball to drive him in.

I have reconciled myself to the fact that Podsednik is going to be the Royals’ lead-off hitter this year. We can throw stats and facts at the issue, but I have yet to see a lineup come out of the musings of Hillman/Moore that does not begin with Scotty Pods. I have also come to accept that Jason Kendall is going to be the everyday catcher. As one of my business partners pointed out ‘Did you really want to watch Olivo swing and miss breaking pitches by FEET for another summer?’. However, I will not accept Podsednik AND Kendall at the top of the Royals’ batting order.

Jason was a heckuva a guy to have at the top of your order….six years ago, but now he has no power and his on-base ability is below average. I also don’t buy into this ‘he can handle the bat’ crap that we often associate with number two hitters – it simply does not come into play anymore at the two spot than anywhere else in the lineup.

Podsednik might have a fine year and regularly use his speed to steal second, but save for the two or three times per year that the catcher throws the ball into the outfield on a Podsednik steal attempt, he is going to be on second base, not third, as he was yesterday. Under that scenario, Jason Kendall might be the least likely member of the lineup to be able to consistently drive him in from second and that includes Yuniesky Betancourt.

I have a sick feeling that the primary memory that Trey Hillman will emerge from spring training with is that first inning run yesterday. Now, you can say that ‘there goes Royals Authority being all negative, again’, and maybe you are right. Call me on Opening Day when Kendall is the second hitter up.

Alex Gordon doubled.

In my mind, the one player who will benefit most from a good spring training is Alex Gordon. After an injury plagued, demotion riddled season in 2009, Gordon needs to get that swagger (however unfounded it may have been in 2007 and 2008) back. I was discouraged as he once more pulled the ball on the ground to the first basemen his first time up, but encouraged by the double. Spring training stats may not matter, but feeling good out of spring training would be huge for Alex.

No Royals pitcher did himself any favors yesterday.

Kyle Davies was not very good, neither was Robinson Tejeda, but the guys who really hurt themselves (even if it is just spring training game number one) were Anthony Lerew and Matt Herges.

Lerew was kind of a sleeper pick for the number five starter spot, but I did like what I saw late last year when he hung in well against Boston and New York in back to back starts. That said, Anthony figures to get just a few chances to show what he can do in the crowded battle for the final starting spot. Yesterday, he gave up five hits in two innings to a lineup of basically AAA hitters.

Forty year old lefty Matt Herges might well have given up the inside track to one of the two open bullpen spots yesterday. Pitching in the ninth inning, Herges was horrendous: giving up three hits, a walk and four runs (albeit one of the unearned). Given that the other lefties are Dusty Hughes and Rule 5 pick Edgar Osuna, Herges still has a chance, but that was an awful outing.

Mitch Maier, Kila Ka’aihue……

A little visit here to the ‘beat the dead horse’ section. Both players singled yesterday and simply reminded me that signing Brian Anderson (and maybe one of Podsednik or Ankiel) and last year’s trade for Mike Jacobs were completely unnecessary. Yes, that’s right, I AM basing that on two spring training at-bats in the first game of the pre-season. Sometimes I am just that cynical.

Now, onto bigger and better things.

A guy named Greinke pitches this afternoon and on Saturday we will see Gil Meche and Aaron Crow go back to back. Who isn’t looking forward to that? I guess, after all, I really am glad the Royals are back on the diamond.

Jose Guillen is in camp, in shape and healthy after two off-season surgeries (neither done by Jose himself, this time).

On the one hand, good for Jose. He showed up ready to go, saying all the right things about helping the team and, at least on the first day, seems to be motivated to have a good year.

On the other hand, Guillen is ‘not about to concede’ his outfield spot and become the full-time designated hitter. Anyone see some clubhouse outbursts down the line?

Guillen’s prickly personality aside, my real concern lies in what Trey Hillman might do.

Last year, we saw several occasions where Hillman sat David DeJesus against lefties (who David hit 13 points higher against than right handers last year) in favor of Willie Bloomquist. What is he going to do with Jose Guillen, who for all his faults is a better hitter (when healthy and right) than Willie?

Rick Ankiel was promised the centerfield job and Dayton Moore did not go out and sign Scott Podsednik to have him sit the bench. So that leaves DeJesus on the firing line, along with Alberto Callaspo. How long into the season will it be before the Royals trot out a lineup that does not include those two players? Players that just happened to be and probably still are the team’s second and third best hitters.

It is certainly not bad to have options and competition in spring training. Who knows? A market might yet open up that allows Moore to make a move involving one of the above. Right now, however, the thought of Trey having more options to ‘mix and match’ mostly makes my head hurt.

Perhaps, as someone is sure to comment, this is too much worrying about something that has yet to happen. Here’s a better question, which trade would you make on say, March 20th:

  • Guillen for a mid-level (somewhere outside of an organization’s top 15) prospect
  • Callaspo for an untested but near major league level position player (probably outside of an organization’s top 10) and another minor prospect
  • DeJesus for a real prospect emerging from AA and another mid-level prospect from about the same level

Are any of these trade options really realistic? I am frankly not sure, go ahead and comment on that, too. At same time, however, assume that the deals are out there and tell me which one you would do.

With the Royals’ position players officially reporting today, the excitement of spring training games looming on the horizon is starting to build. (I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically, by the way)

I don’t intend to rain on that parade and let me preface this very short column by saying I like Chris Getz and really hope he becomes a fixture at second base for the Royals, but how easily could the names that are due to report today be different? And, if so, might the Royals be better if they were?

Of course, I am not talking ‘contender’ better, but certainly ‘intriguingly’ better. There are players out there right now, without jobs or who recently just got them, that one could realistically see fitting into the Royals lineup this year. It is a nasty game of hindsight as no one could really predict how the free agent market would go this year, but we’ll play it anyway.

What if Dayton Moore had not traded Mark Teahen for Chris Getz and Josh Fields? Or signed Scott Podsednik and/or Rick Ankiel?

Instead, what if the Royals had signed Felipe Lopez in their thirst to not have to watch Alberto Callaspo attempt to field ground balls? What if they had signed Russell Branyan and Johnny Gomes?

Currently, Gomes has yet to come to terms with the Reds. No one seems to want Lopez and Branyan just finally found employment last week.

Sure, Gomes is a butcher in right field, although certainly no worse than Jose Guillen. Would an outfield of Teahen-DeJesus-Gomes and an infield of Gordon-Betancourt-Lopez-Butler, with Branyan as your DH be more or less likely to win than what is probably going to take the field in April?

By the time you are reading this, the first workout of the pitchers and catchers could be underway. Awesome.

Time for the first edition of spring notes.

Let s start with a little old news. Hopefully, it s a semi-fresh take. Anyway, here s Trey Hillman s top choice for a lineup as reported by the Star s Bob Dutton:

Podsednik – LF
Getz – 2B
DeJesus – RF
Butler – 1B
Ankiel – CF
Guillen – DH
Gordon – 3B
Betancourt – SS
Kendall – C

A few random, knee-jerk thoughts:

— Any lineup that fails to feature Alberto Callaspo who was the team’s second best hitter last summer is a bad lineup. There can be no debate about this.

— The outfield alignment is screwed up, but we knew this was going to happen.

— Podsednik won’t get on base enough to justify a high position in the lineup. In writing about him for the Royals Authority Annual (on sale soon!) it was obvious he s entirely dependent on a high batting average on balls in play to elevate his OBP. He walks in less than 8% of his plate appearances.

— If you re going with Getz in the lineup, I suppose he s fine at second. He makes plenty of contact and won t kill a rally with a double play. Last year in 76 double play opportunities (when he was at bat with a runner on first and less than two outs), Getz hit into only four double plays. Nifty.

— There are three guys who are made for the number nine spot in that lineup and there really isn’t a number four hitter in the bunch.

— I don’t get why SABR Trey is looking to slide Butler down to the cleanup spot. He seems perfect for the number three.

Here’s my ideal lineup:

DeJesus – CF
Getz – 2B
Butler – 1B
Ankiel – RF
Callaspo – DH
Gordon – 3B
Kendall – C
Betancourt – SS
Podsednik – LF

The best hitters on the team occupy the number 1, 3 and 5 spots in the order which gives the Royals the best chance at a big inning – Something that s going to be rare with this offense. Ankiel is probably the best long ball threat at this point, so he gets the cleanup spot by default, although if Gordon shows some thunder, I wouldn t have an issue with flip flopping them in the order. I also wouldn’t be adverse to a Gordon/Josh Fields platoon at third.

I’m not happy with putting Kendall and Betancourt back to back in the lineup, but what else can you do? Cross your fingers and hope they make the final outs of the inning (which will happen over 70% of the time) and then Podsednik can be a de facto second leadoff hitter.

— Player Inventory is the catch phrase of the spring. Holy crap, I wish I were making this up.

This new buzzword comes to us thanks to the previous season when the Royals lost Mike Aviles, Alex Gordon, Gil Meche, Coco Crisp, Brian Bannister and Kyle Davies for extended periods due to injury. Look, the Royals weren’t contenders last year, no matter what. Take the starting left side of the infield, the starting center fielder and three-fifths of the starting rotation of any team in the league and they aren’t going to have the depth necessary to cover all the loses. No way.

It s a nice idea, but if a similar scenario happens this year, the Royals would again lack the proper depth to replace all those parts. The Royals always seem to be trying to close the barn door after all the animals have escaped.

— I prefer to play what I call roster math. As Dutton points out, there are several players on the 40-man roster who have options remaining that may ultimately come into play when it comes closer to Opening Day.

For example, there s the heated battle for the backup spot in the Royals outfield. Mitch Maier doesn’t have any options left while Brian Anderson does. Of course, Anderson has a major league contract that will pay him $700k while Maier will make only around $420k. It would have been great if someone noticed this early in the off season.

Chris Getz also has an option left, which could come into the equation if he struggles badly this spring. Although it would be an epic upset if he didn’t break camp with the team.

— One related roster math note that received considerable attention was this take on Betancourt:

Something to remember: Betancourt has options remaining. While he has sufficient service time to refuse the assignment and become a free agent, he would void whatever remained of his $9 million contract through 2012 by doing so.

If Betancourt struggles, and Aviles returns to form, the Royals won t hesitate to make a switch. That won t likely happen by opening day, but the way each plays this spring bears watching.

I really wonder about this. We re talking about the same organization that gave Tony Pena, Jr every opportunity to prove his worthlessness before they finally gave up. Do we really think they would be quick to option Betancourt, a player who costs much more money and who cost them a prospect in the trade that brought him to KC? Besides, there s a ton of evidence that GMDM coveted Betancourt for years. Years. No, I don t think he s going to cut the cord on Betancourt so quickly.

Although it would be great if Betancourt was optioned and he declined and voided his contract. Unfortunately, stuff like that doesn’t happen to the Royals.

— The Royals slogan for 2010 is It All Happens Here. What, exactly is it? Bad fundamentals? Buck nights? Zack Greinke shutouts? Drunken nights on the party porch? The possibilities are endless. I suppose that’s the idea.

There’s a TV commercial that goes along with this slogan and can be viewed here. When you watch it, it’s apparent that they’re de-empahsizing baseball and instead trying to sell all the other periphery that goes on at the stadium. By my count, there were roughly 35 cuts in the commercial – three of which featured actual baseball being played by actual Royals. The same number of cuts that featured food.

Playing revisionist history with a professional draft, while fun, is unfair. Redraft the new version of the Cleveland Browns and you can get close to having a Pro Bowl player at all twenty-two positions on the field. No general manager can hit on every pick.

That fact is especially true when it comes to Major League Baseball’s draft. Despite all the scouting and all the work, every team passed on Albert Pujols TWELVE times, some even did so thirteen times. Forty-eight players were drafted in front of Carlos Beltran. Zack Greinke was considered a ‘signability’ pick when he went sixth overall in 2002. You get the picture.

So, it is unfair to look back at the Royals’ rather hideous draft record and say “they should have done this here and that the next year and taken these two guys in the 14th and 20th rounds in 2003 and we would be in the World Series”. We are not going to do that sort of exercise today, but I am going to look at one, just one, pick that might have changed the direction of this franchise.

The 2001 draft is one that will life in infamy for the Royals forever. It was headed by Colt Griffin in the first round and Roscoe Crosby in the second round: both unmitigated disasters. Worse, the brief major league appearances by Angel Sanchez and Devon Lowery are the only contributions on the big league level the Royals ever got out of the fifty picks they made that year. This draft stands as the crown jewel of crap among an array of pretty awful drafts in the early part of this century.

Obviously, it also lends itself handily to us revisionists.

The first round of 2001 had Joe Mauer going number one and Mark Texiera going at six, but there are not names that leap off the list after the Royals picked Griffin that make your stomach hurt. Until you get down to the supplemental phase of that round and find David Wright going at pick number thirty-eight and signing for $960,000.

Sure, thirty-eight is a long way removed from nine, but it would not be unheard of for the budget conscious Royals to take a ’30 to 50 level talent’ to save money (Chris Lubanski anyone?). What if the Royals would have picked David Wright instead of Colt Griffin?

First off, Kansas City would have enjoyed a third baseman who has a career line of .309/.389/.518 who has played 144 or more games in every season between 2005 and 2009. He has pop, he can run and has made himself into a decent defender. Wright signed a six year/$55 million dollar extension near the end of the 2006 season, which might have been doable for the Royals – albeit probably in 2007 as Mike Sweeney’s contract was about to come off the books.

Just having David Wright at the hot corner obviously makes the Royals much better, but what else would it have done?

Well, Wright came up with the Mets midway through the 2004 season, right about the time Allard Baird was demanding a major league ready third baseman and catcher for Carlos Beltran. With Wright ready to go at third, Baird’s demands would not have included a third baseman (Allard suffered from tunnel vision, but he wasn’t an idiot).

As the Beltran sweepstakes heated up, the Yankees offered Robinson Cano and Dioner Navarro for the Royals’ centerfielder (also reportedly offered at the same time by the Red Sox were Kevin Youkilis and Kelly Shoppach, but that’s a story for another scenario). Would the Royals have pulled the trigger on that deal if Wright was ready to take over at third base? Let’s say yes.

Okay, so now the Royals have David Wright at third base and, beginning in 2005, have Robinson Cano and his career line of .306/.339/.480 at second. Cano signed a four year/$30 million extension before the 2008 season, but even if the Royals were not prepared to do so, they would still have Robinson under control for the 2010 season. Assuming Kansas City did get Wright signed to a Met’s like extension in 2007 and signed Cano, too, they would be paying $19 million for their second and third basemen in 2010.

Navarro has had a choppy career at best and might not have prevented the signing of either Miguel Olivo or Jason Kendall, so we’ll just leave the catching position as is in this scenario.

Now, with Wright playing third starting in mid-2004 and Cano manning second starting in 2005, it is pretty hard to believe the Royals would have chosen Alex Gordon with the second overall pick in the 2005 draft. In fact, they probably would not have considered Ryan Zimmerman or Ryan Braun, either, but they might well have looked at a shortstop considered the most ‘major league ready’ player of that draft: Troy Tulowitzki. Beginning in late 2006, Tulowitzki has hit .283/.357/.474 as the Rockies’ everyday shortstop. He had an injury plagued 2008, but a big year last season (.930 OPS). Sure, those numbers are inflated by playing in Denver half the time, but tell me you don’t want him in a Royals’ uniform.

So, beginning in 2007, Kansas City could put an infield of Cano, Tulowitzki and Wright….and Ross Gload on the diamond. At that time, all three players’ salary load was low enough that I do not think it would have prevented the Royals from signing Gil Meche. As an aside, how many wins does Meche get in 2007 with those three guys hitting for him? Or how many does Greinke get in 2009? Twenty-eight?!

Fast forward to 2008 and assume that Wright and Cano have signed the extensions referenced above, plus Tulowitzki has signed his six year/$31 million dollar deal at the same time as Cano. That would almost certainly have kept Kansas City from pursuing Jose Guillen…or at least have kept their offer considerably below the three year/$36 million mark! By the way, with Tulowitzki in the fold, the Royals would be paying the Cano-Tulowitzki-Wright combo $22.5 million in 2010. Take Guillen’s $12 million out, plus the four to Kyle Farnsworth and that gets pretty doable.

Throw Billy Butler into the mix at first base and the Royals would be looking forward to 2010 with arguably the best infield in baseball. Sure, the Cano-Butler combination on the right side of the infield is not a defensive strongpoint, but Tulowitzki-Wright is above average.

The Royals would not have any real money to play with this off-season, which might have precluded the Kendall signing (boo-hoo!), but probably would not have kept them from getting Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankiel. The pitching staff, probably minus the Farnsworth albatross, would be the same (actually better in the addition by subtraction way of thinking) and the spectre of Jose Guillen would not be an issue.

Maybe all this still does not make the Royals championship contenders, but I would wager it certainly puts them in the mix for the playoffs. It is all an exercise in fantasy without question, but it does point out how just one pick…ONE PICK…might have changed the course of a franchise.

Okay, let’s get the ‘Scott Podsednik’s wife in a bikini at every game’ out of the way right now.

There is a very high level of the ‘winter doldrums’ descending on the Royals’ blogsosphere as we wait for spring training to begin. Part of that is it is simply that time of year and part is that the Royals made a number of moves this off-season, almost none of which were of the exciting variety.

Last week, we took a quick look at my perception of the 25 man roster that is likely to break camp at the end of March. Last Friday, the official Royals site had comments from Trey Hillman that included, but were not limited to:

  • Getz will be a second baseman first, then shortstop.
  • Callaspo will be at second, then short
  • Fields will be a third baseman and some left field and we might throw him over to right, too.

In the discussion of trying Getz at shortstop (a position Chris claims to have played a lot ‘pretty decently’ in the minors), Hillman also talked about waiting for Mike Aviles to get healthy, but never once mentioned Yuniesky Betancourt.

While all that is moderately intriguing and certainly gives us indication that we might see the same lineup two days in a row, maybe three times all next year, it probably does not make many of you any more excited about 2010 then my discussion of the 25 man roster did last Monday.

So, today, what would make you excited? Let me focus that a little more: what ONE move could be made by the Royals that would get you excited about 2010? This move could be an acquisition, a signing, maybe even just a position change or promotion of a minor leaguer. Is there one?

While no one move is going to vault this team into contention, I think it might be possible to at least raise hopes that we have something to look forward to in 2010 besides Zack Greinke every fifth day and hoping to avoid 100 losses. Maybe there is no one move that will generate interest beyond the usual anticipation of a new season, but throw some out there because I want to be interested.

This morning, I am going to run through a quick exercise in constructing the Royals’ twenty-five man roster for the coming season. My guess is that almost everyone who reads any Royals’ blog has already done this in one form or another, but I have serious doubts that the Royals’ front office has.

Okay, sure, we know that is total sarcasm, but seriously I think the Royals have a firm idea on the 40 man roster, but only a vague ‘things will work themselves out’ idea as to the 25 they will break camp with. You can make an argument that this is the perfect way to go into spring training and I would generally agree, but I do wonder if a ‘small budget’ club like the Royals can assemble and pay for 30+ guys to compete for their 25 spots?

The catching position is pretty simple: Jason Kendall starts, Brayan Pena watches. The hope is that Kendall is an upgrade defensively and in handling the pitchers, while not just destroying you at the plate. If he can get on base at even a .340 clip, throw runners out and get along with Greinke and Meche, he might be tolerable. In Pena, the Royals have a switch-hitter who might log some time at DH. I wish the team had given Pena two months of everyday duty last year to find out if he really is THAT bad behind the plate, but that ship has sailed. Manny Pina, acquired from Texas last year, is the next in line, but his bat is not ready for the bigs (and may never be). He is, should everything go to hell, probably the best defensive catcher in the organization. At any rate, it’s Kendall and Pean: that’s two.

The corner infield positions are pretty clear: Billy Butler and Alex Gordon. What happens after that is a mystery. The Royals acquired Josh Fields as part of the Mark Teahen trade, making rumblings about Fields playing a corner outfield spot, but that has gone by the wayside with the signings of Podsednik and Ankiel. Out of options, Fields will be on the 25 man roster come April, likely as the backup third baseman and part-time designated hitter. That’s three more guys, for a total of five.

We will jump out to the outfield at this point. I shudder to think how the team is going to actually arrange David DeJesus, Rick Ankeil and Scott Podsednik defensively, but we all know that those will be the three outfielders and that they will play everyday. The signing of Ankiel brought out the semi-public announcement that Jose Guillen would be the club’s primary designated hitter – something Jose probably has not yet heard and won’t like when he does. While the ‘just cut him’ plan of action is certainly appealing and maybe even logical, it is hard to see the Royals doing so. There’s four players, four veterans mind you, that will be on the team in April, bringing us to a total of nine on our roster.

Okay, middle infield will be…deep breathe…Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop and somebody else. Of course, the Teahen trade also brought Chris Getz over and the expectation is that he will be an upgrade defensively at second over Alberto Callaspo. However, with Guillen moving to DH (not to mention Fields), playing Getz at second leaves few places for Callaspo to play. As much as I hate watching Alberto field, I do love watching him hit. The other glaring problem is that keeping Betancourt, Getz and Callaspo leaves no room for Willie Bloomquist. We all know that’s not going to happen (besides, Willie is the only one who can play short). The wild card in this equation is Mike Aviles. My guess is that Aviles will not be ready at the start of the season and will open the year on the disabled list.

We will assume that the Royals will open the year with a 12 man pitching staff or move to that sooner rather than later. Although he has options left, it is hard for me to believe Dayton Moore traded Mark Teahen for a bench player and a guy who is going to play in Omaha. That leaves Getz on the roster, with Callaspo and Bloomquist who, for all his faults, can fill the role of both fourth outfielder and utility infielder. With Betancourt, that makes four for a total of thirteen.

That means Brian Anderson, all $700,000 of him, is in AAA and Mitch Maier, out of options, might be somewhere else come April. The schedule might allow the team to open with eleven pitchers, so it could be Mitch and the organization a couple of weeks to sort out what to do, but by the end of April, barring a trade or simply cutting bait with Guillen, Mitch will be off the Royals’ big league roster.

Now, onto the pitching staff. The starting rotation right now will be Greinke, Meche, Bannister, Hochevar and either Kyle Davies or Robinson Tejeda. There are rumblings about the Royals fishing for a veteran, which would likely be the end of Davies and push Tejeda back to the pen. Right now, though, my money is on Tejeda as the number five starter. At any rate, that’s five guys, so we are up to eighteen total, now.

The bullpen will have Joakim Soria and Juan Cruz at the backend, with Kyle Farnsworth available for blow-out work (what a fine use of funds, by the way). Rule 5 pick Edgar Osuna is all but guaranteed a spot, which fills four of the seven spots.

I would be pretty amazed if veteran journeyman Matt Herges does not get a spot. Just a hunch, but I think he will trade it that number 77 for a real baseball number by April. I am also hoping beyond all hope that the Royals give and Carlos Rosa earns a spot in the bullpen this year. Rosa, performing as I hope he might, is the guy who makes what Juan Cruz and Kyle Farnsworth do irrelevant.

That leaves one final spot (assuming Tejeda is the fifth starter) up for grabs between Ramon Colon, Victor Marte, Dusty Hughes and all the non-roster invitees. Throw Herges into this mix if you want and say this group is fighting for two roster spots. It doesn’t much matter how it ends up, but that’s seven relievers, twelve pitchers and a 25 man roster.

Now, in reading all this, how likely do you think it is that all of Chris Getz, Jose Guillen and Alberto Callaspo break camp with the Royals? You could throw David DeJesus into that mix as well as he is likely the most tradable of all the Royals’ position players. Barring trades or another free agent signing, I would put pretty good money on the 25 players outlined above.

Part of me is pretty certain Dayton Moore has two more moves on his agenda that will make the real 25 man roster different from the above. All of me is hoping that is the case.

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