Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Bags Are Packed, Ready to Go...

Michael Restovich was 2-for-4 at the plate in today's game against the Pirates, which ended ina 5-5 tie. Dating back to Monday of last week, Restovich has 7 hits in 20 at-bats, including a double and a home run, giving him a .350 avg with a .550 slg in that span. Beware of small samples, it's only spring training, and all that... but it's nice to see him coming to the park ready to showcase his abilities as spring training draws towards final cuts. That could effectively come tomorrow, according to Gardy, since the baggage trucks heading for Minnesota will load Thursday and as the man says, "You can't send people's luggage on a truck if they're not going to Minnesota."

If Resto's bags aren't on that truck, where else might he get an opportunity to play?

Kansas City - Terrence Long is in LF, Abraham Nunez or Matt Stairs in RF, Eli Marrero is the righty OF off the bench... I feel like weeping, and the Royals aren't even my team.

Colorado - The LF is Matt Holliday, who hit .290/.349/.488 as a rookie in 2004, but in Denver that translates to just a 98 OPS+ (100 being the adjusted league average), and on the road he hit a miserable .240/.287/.367. In RF, they're giving a shot to Dustan Mohr. (Or, "Mohr's the Pity" as Capt. Bess calls him.) Need I say mohr? Brad Hawpe and Cory Sullivan wouldn't seem to block out Restovich, either. Hawpe is a lefty bat who mashed AAA pitching last year but struggled in his callup to Denver and needs to show that he can hit lefty pitching. Sullivan is another lefty bat who missed all of 2004 recovering from elbow replacement surgery(!), last playing at AA in 2003, and should be in AAA this season even if he is swatting balls all around the yard in spring training.

Tampa Bay - The Rays signed Alex Sanchez to play CF while Rocco Baldelli is out recovering from knee surgery, which moves Carl Crawford back to LF with Aubrey Huff set in RF. Meanwhile, Danny Bautista's sudden retirement has left the club without any solid options coming off the bench to fill the corners, and manager Lou Piniella has been complaining about a lack of power on his team. Journeyman Chris Singleton is unlikely to satisfy that need. Maybe Restovich's potential will appeal to Sweet Lou.

Atlanta - The Braves have Brian Jordan and Raul Mondesi at the OF corners, with Ryan Langerhans in reserve. Langerhans is 25, bats lefty, and has put up numbers in AAA the past two years. I suppose he will make the team, although he has hit only a buck fifty-nine in spring training. Their other reserve options in camp look weak, including former Twins farmhand John Barnes, now 28, who has always hit in AAA but still has not made it back to the majors since leaving the Twins organization.

Texas - The Rangers have five outfielders set on the roster, but they are still looking for a RHB to DH or pinch-hit, and so far Greg Colbrunn and Mark DeRosa have failed to secure the job in camp. GM John Hart is in a dealing mood this week, as well. Could be worth a phone call.

Milwaukee - Geoff Jenkins and Carlos Lee are set at the corners, and manager Ned Yost says he wants to carry only one OF reserve. Right now his decision is down to Dave Krynzel, 2000 1st round pick and speedy lefty bat who probably should get more seasoning in AAA, or the 28 year-old journeyman Dave Magruder whose .405 avg in camp belies his marginal track record. Maybe Brewers management feels OK with those options. On the other hand, Restovich's upside is superior to Magruder's, and it sure seems like he'd look good hitting in Miller Park.

Cincinnati - The pieces may not quite matchup, but right now the Reds' 5th OF is Ryan Freel, a 29 year-old utilityman who hit .277/.375/.368 last season, and the club is looking at non-roster players Jacob Cruz and Luis Lopez to fill the last spot on the bench. Being that Ken Griffey, Jr.'s health is about as secure as a trailer home on a flood plain, the club might like another OF who can hit, and Restovich would seem like a nice fit in their ballpark.

Florida - Miguel Cabrera should be a fixture in LF, but in RF Juan Encarnacion will be playing out the final year of his $4.5m contract, backed up by IF/OF and World Series good luck charm Jeff Conine. The only other OF on the 40-man roster is 26 year-old Chris Aguila, who may make the team because he can play CF. Then again, Encarnacion has experience in CF, too. Aguila played well at AAA last year, but struggled in a couple stints with the Marlins during the season. He might be bumped if management were presented with an alternative who might step into the lineup once they're rid of Encarnacion in 2006.

San Francisco - With Barry Bonds an uncertainty going into the season, Moises Alou could be spending a lot of time in LF, opening up RF to the likes of Michael Tucker, Pedro Feliz, and Tony Torcato. Tucker probably will have a full career in the NL because he's fast and gets on base at a decent rate; I imagine he and his $1.75m contract are set with the Giants for the year. However, Torcato once was a top prospect whose power evaporated after he rose above Class A ball. Feliz is an IF/OF hacker who is always dangled as trade bait by Giants fans dropping by your favorite message board, and has put up Tony Batista-like numbers the past couple years. GM Brian Sabean may prefer to give his own Feliz and Torcato a chance, but neither one has done anything to cement his place on a big league roster.

Arizona - Shawn Green is listed as the starting RF with Jose Cruz as his backup, leaving Chad Tracy (.285/.343/.407 as a rookie in 2004) as the regular 1B. Could Green spend some time at 1B? Are the D-Backs happy with 5th OF options like Luis Terrero and Robby Hammock? Quinton McCracken was invited to camp but has hit .256 with a .279 slg pct. this spring. There could be room for a player like Resto on this team.

Oakland - The A's would like to see Nick Swisher take over RF, but he has hit just .246 this spring and may need more AAA seasoning. Possibly because of Swisher's performance in camp, talk of trading Eric Byrnes has apparently cooled--for now. The A's also have Charles Thomas, a lefty bat acquired from Atlanta in the Tim Hudson deal, and the switch-hitting Bobby Kielty available to play the OF corners. The NRI's in camp are Jermaine Clark and Hiram Bocachica, both 4-A journeymen. If Billy Beane decides to send Swisher to Sacramento or trade Byrnes, there might be room for Restovich on the Oakland roster to platoon with Thomas and compete with Kielty for spare playing time.

Toronto - The Jays have Frank Catalanotto and Reed Johnson written into the lineup at the corners, and rookie LHB Gabe Gross looks to be playing his way onto the team with a monster March. The 5th OF spot would be taken by Alex Rios, a 24 year-old RHB who hit .286/.338/.383 in 111 games as a rookie last year (.259/.292/.373 in 46 games at AAA). In camp, Rios has hit .267 with a .417 slg. He mashed the ball at AA in 2003, but probably could use more seasoning in AAA if the Jays had an alternative like Restovich to move ahead of him.

Cleveland - Probably a longshot. But since Jody Gerut is recovering from a torn ACL, the Tribe have Casey Blake written in as the regular LF and the marginal Ryan Ludwick as the first OF reserve. Also consider that the oft-injured Juan Gonzalez is in RF, and Grady Sizemore is still trying to prove himself in AAA Buffalo, and maybe this club could use a guy like Restovich after all.

New York Yankees - It would seem unlike Team Steinbrenner to go after another club's relatively unproven castoff to fill out the Yankees bench, but look at their OF reserves: Ruben Sierra and Bubba Crosby. Sierra is better suited to DH'ing even as his bat is also slowing down, and Crosby's only value is that he can play CF without embarrassing himself--but the same can be said of Hideki Matsui, if you needed him to move over in a pinch. There aren't any significantly pedigreed non-roster players in the running for a reserve OF job, so who knows--maybe there isn't room for Michael Restovich on the Twins roster, but there could be a role for him in the Bronx.

Take care, Resto, wherever the moving trucks may be taking you this week....


At 3/31/2005 12:22 AM, Blogger Leslie Monteiro said...

It is Michael's best interest that he moves on. I wish him the best of luck. I hope he plays for a NL team.

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