The Bench of Misfit Toys

Choice
Roster fluidity. As the season creeps up to its start, we the fans heard that phrase almost a million times over the last few days. The 25 man roster is finally set, but it looks vastly different in name, and ability, from last season’s bench of Soto/Baker/Gentry/Garcia – Profar. Should Baker have been re-signed, instead of being allowed to go to Miami? Did JD screw up by trading the speedy and defensively able Gentry or by trading the passable defenseman Garcia?
If any one loss from the bench last year is apparent, it’d be Jeff Baker. He was able to cover the outfield and the corners, which came in handy when Beltre’s hamstrings needed a break in Tampa and Toronto. His bat was a hidden weapon against lefties, until a fateful AJP high-five injured his hand. Regardless, his return would have been a welcomed signing this offseason.

With that being said, it’s time to take a look at who is here to help off the bench and evaluate their chance of being productive when called upon.

Catchers

Robinson Chirinos – As an in-house candidate, Chirinos seemed like the logical backup to Geovany Soto for 2014. Well, one JP Arencibia and a torn meniscus for Soto later, and he is officially the backup. It will be interesting to see what happens for him between now and June, when Soto is able to come back from the DL. He’s not expected to contribute very much on offense, with a predicted slash of .205/.267/.301 over 33 games and 90 plate appearances. He has looked good with the staff defensively in spring so far, and will be able to contribute some basic defense behind the plate, namely in solid pitch blocking. Depending on how he does with the staff, he may end up displacing JP Arencibia in June as the trade deadline deals start forming in the front office.

Chris Gimenez – Gimenez was claimed on waivers just mere days ago and is required to spend at least one full day on the Major League roster because of the time of acquisition. The expectation is that he will be DFA’d and his roster spot will be taken by pitcher Nick Martinez. Pretty simple plan for him, so let’s move on to the infield.

Infielders

Donnie Murphy – Murphy is best described as a perennial utility man and current Profar replacement. He and Josh Wilson will presumably rotate around the middle infield and help out with 2B/SS duties until Profar returns from his stint on the DL. His debut game, while against Mexican league pitching, featured some impressive hitting. His projected slash is .241/.300/.425 over 61 games and 250 plate appearances. His defense will be passable and he shouldn’t pose any immediate issues, although don’t expect the range of a Leury Garcia.

Josh Wilson – Not much was projected for Wilson this season, one group even projected him to play 0 games. He will most likely be a true replacement/late inning type who rarely will fill in for Elvis or Murphy. His biggest contributions project to be on defense, mostly in the middle.

Note: both guys have had time at 3B as well, so they can spell Beltre if/when needed.

Outfielders

Jim Adduci – With Moreland and Choice also in the mix for backup OF duties, Adduci’s role will mostly be as a pinch runner and left handed bat if/when needed in late innings. He is “the new Gentry” so to speak, in that he can leg out a bunt for hit and produce with some speed on the bases. Unlike Gentry, he probably will not be expected to get much defensive OF work (he’d more likely replace Prince at 1B, with Mitch in the outfield, in a blowout scenario).

Michael Choice – He is beyond “the new Gentry” for 2014+. Many felt he’d start in AAA Round Rock simply to give him one last full season of AAA work before he took over for Alex Rios full time in 2015. His spring was impressive and he earned Wash’s trust as the 4th outfielder. He can play all of the outfield spots and can serve as a DH compliment to Mitch Moreland in the meantime. Most of his time will be spent either as the DH against batters that Moreland will not face or as a late defensive replacement for any of the outfielders.

Note: One glaring omission may appear to be Kevin Kouzmanoff. He did have a nice spring offensively, but with Adduci’s speed and Wilson & Murphy being able to cover multiple infield spots fairly well defensively, there was no need to insert Kouz onto the roster at this point.

As it stands now, the three key pieces will be Chirinos, Murphy and Choice. They are not only expected to fill in for injured players, but Chirinos will have the hardest job in helping keep the ailing pitching staff on track once the water settles from the injuries. Can they get the job done? We’ll just have to see. Some moves look golden (Choice for Gentry) and some look questionable (a Murphy/Wilson platoon instead of Baker coming back); but, in the end, they are the bench and they are ready to kick off the season with the Rangers.

Sarah Powers

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