Riding the Pine…Expanding the Rosters

On September 1st, the rosters in Major League Baseball expand from 25 men to 40. It’s done for 2 reasons: to rest players for the playoffs and to give players an opportunity to audition. Most teams in the races will bring up players, but tend to stick with what’s working. Also, teams may hesitate to call players up if their minor league affiliates are in their respective playoffs. Also, some teams will have a few extra spots on the 40-man open so they can call up some minor league vets to help. Here’s a look at the prospects currently on the AL 40 man rosters and what to expect if/when they called up.

Baltimore Orioles:
At this point, the Orioles, fresh of a murdering from the Rangers, have nothing to lose by giving playing time to prospects. Pitcher Hayden Penn is a candidate to get a few starts. Even with the outfield crowded, Jeff Fiorentino, Val Majewski, and Adam Stern could see some at bats and audition for next season.

Boston Red Sox:
The Red Sox are pretty well stocked for the playoffs, but they do have a few players that could get an opportunity to play. Top pitching prospect Clay Buchholz, who’s already been up once this season, has the opportunity to pitch out of the pen and to get a spot start or 2. Other pitchers that could see their way into the pen include Daniel Haigwood and Craig Hansen – who was once deemed the closer of the future but has struggled since he was drafted. The outfield will stay crowded in Boston – both Jacoby Ellsbury and Brandon Moss could be brought up. Ellsbury is the top position prospect in their system and has had a chance to play up with Boston once this season. He could be auditioning for the chance to take Coco Crisp’s position next year.

Chicago White Sox:
The system is pretty barren here. Andy Sisco pitched well with the Royals after he was taken in a Rule V draft a few years ago, but has struggled with consistency. He should get a called up, along with David Aardsma, to see if there is a spot in the ‘pen next season. Last years failed centerfielder Brian Anderson may get a shot at playing time, as could Ryan Sweeney – the kid who came out of know where 2 springs ago and almost made the Sox’s roster at age 19.

Cleveland Indians:
The biggest name that could help the Indians is Cliff Lee – he’s struggled with the Tribe this season and was demoted. If he’s back to his previous form, he could be the difference maker in the division. Jeremy Sowers is another started who had problems and was demoted; he’s got limited MLB experience but has great stuff. Slugger Michael Aubrey won’t be able to steal at bats from Ryan Garko or Travis Hafner, but would be strong bat of the bench. Andy Marte and Shin-Soo Choo both have been called up, but both have been over matched; they could see limited time as well.

Detroit Tigers:
The Tigers traded for bullpen arms Jose Capellan and Macay McBride this season and will see what they have when rosters expand. Both are likely to be on the team next year, so this is their opportunity to get some innings. Slugger Chris Shelton, who disappeared after his historic start to last season, will most likely be used as a pinch hitter. With Gary Sheffield possibly out, Brent Clevlen could see more time than the team was planning; he doesn’t have much MLB experience but looks ready for the call.

Kansas City Royals:
If the Royals are smart, they will give Luke Hochevar his rotation spot sooner rather than later. He’s pitched well everywhere he’s gone, so KC should be no different. The glut of first basemen will be added to when Justin Huber and Ryan Shealy get called back up. Huber has the most potential of the 2, but will have trouble moving Billy Butler from the position (especially with Mike Sweeney coming off the DL in the beginning of September).

Los Angeles Angels:
The Angels won’t do much, since they are battling it out with the Mariners. Jose Arredondo is a great strikeout pitcher, but has had problems with teammates and coaches this season. I don’t see him getting called up until he matures a little. Kendry Morales has MLB experience and will see at bats off the bench. Terry Evans, the player they received for Jeff Weaver, can add power to the bench – more so than Tommy Murphy.

Minnesota Twins:
Many of Minnesota’s top young players have already been called up; they have a good balance of young players with their experience veterans. Kevin Slowey could see a spot start or 2, but will spend most of his time in the bullpen. The man who will most likely replace Torii Hunter in center, Denard Span, should get the call also; he’ll get experience in the corners while waiting to move to center.

New York Yankees:
I don’t see the Yankees adding much – most of the players on the 40-man have been up at one point or another this season. The only intriguing player right now would be Andrew Brackman, the teams first round pick this year. He won’t get called up; he’s only on the 40-man because he was given a major league contract when he was drafted.

Oakland Athletics:
After years of relying on the system, Oakland has finally dried up. The only player with potential that could see time in September is Dan Meyer – the last prospect from the Tim Hudson trade. He’s been much better this year and could see a few starts if Oakland is completely out of the race.

Seattle Mariners:
The Mariners are making a serious run and probably won’t tinker too much. Ryan Feierabend has spent some time in the rotation this year, but would probably be on bullpen duty if he were brought up. The outfield is already set, but Wladimir Balentien, Mike Morse, and Jeremy Reed could get a few games in here and there to help keep players rested.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays:
I’d be excited to be a D-Ray fan in the next few years. Once they clear out some of the garbage – Rocco Baldelli, Greg Norton, etc – they could have a solid team. Top pitching prospect Jeff Niemann should get a couple of starts before the season is over – what does the team have to lose at this point. Another former closer of the future, Chad Orvella, should see some time in Tampa and could be thrown in for a save or 2. Position-wise, most of the better young players are already up. Wes Bankston could get some DH time, since Carlos Pena has done pretty well at first. Evan Longoria could also be added to the 40 man and given a shot this year too.

Texas Rangers:
The Rangers have pretty much called most of their good young players up already. Edison Volquez has been lights out recently and could get a permanent rotation spot – his command is much better than his previous call up. Julio Borbon is also on the 40-man, but he is in the same situation that Brackman was – drafted out of college to an MLB contract. Don’t expect him up until next year.

Toronto Blue Jays:
There is really nothing here, other than slugger Adam Lind. The only reason Lind is in the minor is to get at bats every day – the outfield is full and he’s not going to take the DH spot from Frank Thomas.

Next week I’ll have the NL teams.