With spring training just a few days away, it seems like a lot of the questions about the 25-man roster for Opening Day have been answered. However, there are a few spots up for grabs, so we have a few guys for each spot that we should be keeping an eye on. First, the players who I think definitely have a spot on the big league team locked up (barring injuries):
Hernandez (Starting C)
Hanigan (Backup C)
Votto (Starting 1B)
Phillips (Starting 2B)
Encarnacion (Starting 3B)
Taveras (Starting CF)
Bruce (Starting RF)
As for the last three guys, Hairston definitely makes the roster, but where he plays is anyone's guess at this point. Keppinger in all likelihood will be starting two days a week at an infield spot, while coming off the bench otherwise. Gonzalez makes the team in some capacity if he's healthy, based on the way the Reds value his defensive reputation. One of those guys will start at SS, so that's covered. That's 20 spots, leaving 5 more on the 25 man roster. Let's look at the spots up for grabs:
Also in consideration: Hopper, Gomes, Jones
Dickerson gets the nod here, based off of his season last year. As long as he doesn't screw up in spring training, I think the spot is his. If he doesn't perform, either Hopper or Gomes will probably start there, and Hairston could see some time there as well. Jones is on the list because with you never know with Dusty, but realistically, I don't think he makes it. That makes 21.
Also in consideration: Gomes, Jones, Stubbs, Nix
I think Hopper makes it no matter what as a backup outfielder at the very least. I don't see them sending him to AAA, and I honestly think he could thrive in this 4th OF role. He'll come in handy in bunting and pinch running situations. I think Gomes' big bat also makes him a worthy candidate for a pinch hitting role, but he's the one on a minor league contract. Stubbs and Nix could be considered if they have great spring trainings, but neither one of them will probably start right away if they made it. It's more likely that Stubbs starts in AAA to play everyday while there isn't a starting spot available in Cincinnati, and Nix goes to AAA as an insurance outfielder, kind of like Hairston/Cabrera did last year. And, if Jacque Jones makes the roster over any of those people, we can throw away the 2009 season.
Also in consideration: Bailey, Maloney, Masset, Thompson, Ramirez
This will be one of the more interesting position battles to watch. Owings is the slight favorite here, but I'm not sure why. Almost any of these guys could take the job with a strong ST, so any start not made by one of the 4 rotation guys will be very important the the makeup of the team.
That puts the roster at 23, with 11 pitchers and 12 position players. I'd think they'd go with one more of each.
7th Bullpen Spot
Also in consideration: Roenicke, Ramirez, Bailey, Herrera, Fisher, Fultz, Flores
I think that Masset gets the nod here. He can spot start if necessary, has (semi-)successful major league experience, and I think will have an edge being the guy the Reds traded Junior for. If an injury happens, or if Masset struggles in ST, Roenicke is next in line, and I think we'll see him sooner than we did last year. The other guys all have an excellent shot at being in the big league bullpen this season, with the exception of Bailey, who when he gets another shot will probably start.
That rounds out the pitching staff. One more bat off the bench...
Also in consideration: Castillo, Richar, Rosales, Ward, Nix
For me, this was a coin flip between Gomes and Wilkin, and I think it could have went either way. Castillo can catch and play infield, which is a big bonus, but I figured we have enough infielders and no real power threat off the bench, so I'm going with Gomes. I think Richar and Ward are probably next in line.
So there's my 25 man roster, with Dickerson, Hopper, Owings, Masset, and Gomes being my final 5. Anybody you think doesn't deserve to be on the first list of 20? Who are your final 5?