Catcher. With the re-assignment of Peter O'Brien - which the team now claims to have been due to his swing, not his throwing issues - this battle currently appears to come down to Gerald Laird and Tuffy Gosewisch. Neither have exactly been ripping the ball's cover off in spring, with OPS's both sitting a little below .600. Gosewisch has the advantage of greater familiarity with the pitching staff having been part of the team all last year. But Laird has more experience overall. However, he also has not had even 200 AB in a season since 2010; can he stand up to playing every day? Best guess: Gosewisch.
And that appears confirmed by this Tweet from a few minutes ago:
Dave Stewart said Tuffy Gosewisch looks like Dbacks starting catcher. "Who else is it going to be?"— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) March 23, 2015
Third base. The Yasmany Tomas dilemma continues to perplex. What the team wanted, was for him to seize the opportunity at 3B, and make it his own. Hasn't happened. While certainly not beyond repair, his deficiencies have been obvious to all neutral observers, and with a .631 OPS, don't appear to have been made up for elsewhere. It's possible he could still make the team as an outfielder, and I understand the team does want to use him, since there's no concept of service time here, and his clock is already ticking. But my guess is he would be better served by more reps at third in the minors. Jake Lamb has done everything asked of him, and more. Best guess: Lamb.
Outfield. Mark Trumbo and A.J. Pollock appear to have right and center field more or less locked up, but left-field is still open, with a three-way battle between Ender Inciarte, David Peralta and Cody Ross. Because of the last-named's sunk cost, he's certain to be on the roster (assuming health), and seems likely to be starting in left when there's a southpaw on the mound. But who starts the bulk of the time, versus RHP? Inciarte and Peralta have both been great in spring, with 1.040 and .962 OPS respectively (Ross is a fair way back at .751). Both are lefties. Both have minor-league options. It's a tough one. Best guess: Peralta.
Off the bench. Five bench spots are available. I would presume Cliff Pennington gets one, with the losers of the catcher and left field battles also making the roster, so that will be Laird and Inciarte, along with Ross [my plan there would be, get him lots of at-bats against left-handers, to try and increase his trade value at mid-season]. For the final slot, I like Jordan Pacheco's positional flexibility. Last year, he started at first, second and third for us - plus he would also be a third catcher, so we wouldn't have to worry about pinch-hitting for the offensively-challenged front two late in games. Best guesses: Inciarte, Laird, Pacheco, Pennington, Ross.
The 5th starter. It seems increasingly likely that the front four on Opening Day will be Josh Collmenter, Jeremy Hellickson, Trevor Cahill and Chase Anderson. Since we did our rotational power rankings, Randall Delgado appears bullpen-bound, Archie Bradley has been told he's heading to the minors, and Daniel Hudson still hasn't thrown more than two innings [though he may be stretched out to three in today's contest against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch, and would be on a major-league pitch count anyway]. That leaves the remaining spot between a quartet of off-season acquisitions: Yoan Lopez, Robbie Ray, Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster.
This one would appear to be De La Rosa's to lose: when the team is mentioning you in the same breath as Opening Day starter Josh Collmenter, it's clear they think highly of you, and he was regularly hitting 95 mph his last outing. We haven't had someone like that in our rotation for a number of seasons. My real concern with him is the walks: ten in a dozen spring innings, and that has been a knock against him his entire career. He's going to need to do better than that in the regular season, but I think he'll be given the chance. Best guess: De La Rosa.
The bullpen. Health is the big question here. We still haven't seen closer Addison Reed in a Cactus League game, though he and Brad Ziegler (who made his first appearance only yesterday) both believe they should be ready for Opening Day, and will only need a few outings before then. Matt Stites is another who has been experiencing a bumpy spring, though was likely on the bubble anyway. Oliver Perez, Even Marshall, Delgado and Hudson [presuming they're not in the rotation] all seem to be assured of spots, which would only leave one spot open for competition, if Reed and Ziegler are healthy.
Potential candidates for that would include Vidal Nuno, Andrew Chafin, Stites, with long shots being A.J. Schugel and Enrique Burgos. However, I think the team - again, presuming health is not a problem - will go with left-hander Matt Reynolds. Particularly if we end up with an all right-handed rotation, as seems quite possible, having two lefties in the bullpen seems like a near-necessity for late innings. Ray, Chafin and Nuno are all left-handers as well, but I would imagine are more likely to be kept stretched out down in Reno, in the inevitable event that we will need an additional starter at some point. Best guess: Reynolds.
Projected 25-man Opening Day roster
||Josh Collmenter||Starter #1|
|First||Paul Goldschmidt||Jeremy Hellickson||Starter #2|
|Second||Aaron Hill||Trevor Cahill||Starter #3|
|Shortstop||Chris Owings||Chase Anderson||Starter #4|
|Third||Jake Lamb||Rubby de la Rosa||Starter #5|
|Left||David Peralta||Addison Reed||Closer|
|Center||A.J. Pollock||Brad Ziegler||Set-up #1|
|Right||Mark Trumbo||Evan Marshall||Set-up #2|
|Backup C||Gerald Laird||Oliver Perez||LHRP #1|
|Backup IF||Cliff Pennington||Matt Reynolds||LHRP #2|
|Backup IF||Jordan Pacheco||Daniel Hudson||Mid relief|
|Backup OF||Cody Ross||Randall Delgado||Long relief|
|Backup OF||Ender Inciarte|