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Camden Chat projects the Orioles' 25 Man Roster

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We are late in Spring Training and the Orioles have yet to finalize their spring roster. Many questions still remain in the rotation, bullpen, and lineup. Alex Conway, Chris Booze, and Charlie Bacon all broke down the roster questions and projected what the lineup will look like come Opening Day.

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

As Opening Day approaches the Orioles still have many unanswered questions about their roster. The rotation, bullpen, and lineup are all in question as Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette work to find the best 25 to take into Opening Day while not losing players they like and maintaining the depth they have worked to hard to build up.  So three of us Camden Chat writers put our thoughts to internet paper. Below are our best guesses at what the 25 man roster will look like come Opening Day with some explanation as to our choices.

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First, Charlie Bacon

Starters:

1. Wei-Yin Chen

2. Chris Tillman

3. Kevin Gausman

4. Bud Norris

5. Ubaldo Jimenez

Bullpen:

CL: Zach Britton

SU: Darren O`Day

SU: Tommy Hunter

MR: Wesley Wright

MR: Brad Brach

MR: Ryan Webb

LR: Logan Verrett

Pitchers Cut:

Brian Matusz – Traded or DFA'd

Miguel Gonzalez – Optioned to AAA Norfolk

T.J. McFarland – Optioned to AAA Norfolk

Jason Garcia – Sent back to Red Sox

There's a lot to figure out here. I figured Gonzalez will go back to Norfolk because he still has an option, he hardly has the best stuff and I don't think there's much of a future for him here. McFarland is getting squeezed out as well, Matusz has basically been replaced with Wright and I'm kind of surprised he wasn't traded sooner.

I know they really like Garcia, but having never pitched above the Single-A level it doesn't make sense that they could keep him all season long on the 25 man anyway, so why keep him at all? It would be a good move for a rebuilding team or one with nothing to lose, but that is not your 2015 Orioles.

Position Players:

C: Caleb Joseph

1B: Chris Davis

2B: Jonathan Schoop

3B: Manny Machado

SS: Ryan Flaherty

LF: Alejandro De Aza

RF: Travis Snider

CF: Adam Jones

DH: Steve Pearce

Backup Catcher: Steve Clevenger

4th OF: Delmon Young

Pinch Hitter: Jimmy Paredes

Utility: Everth Cabrera

Position Players Cut:

Matt Wieters – DL, Replaces Lavarnway when healthy

J.J. Hardy -- DL, Replaces Flaherty when healthy

Everth Cabrera -- Optioned for Chris Davis after game 1

Henry Urrutia – Optioned to AAA Norfolk

Nolan Reimold – Reassigned to Minor League Camp

Dariel Alvarez– Reassigned to Minor League Camp

This list was a little easier than the pitchers, but not by much. First, I'm guessing Cabrera will replace Davis in Game 1, but it could be anyone (or no one at all). It's hard to tell, but ultimately irrelevant. What's more interesting is who will have to leave the 40-man when Davis returns. (My guess is Eddie Gamboa).

Other than that, the tough thing was guessing on Reimold who has done well this spring, but at this point I think anyone who can be sent to the minors will be. This applies to Flaherty too. If something changes (and this potential injury to Hardy's shoulder might be that something) maybe he stays on or gets called up. But he has options and Paredes doesn't.

***

Second, Alex Conway

Starters:

1. Chris Tillman

2. Wei-Yin Chen

3. Bud Norris

4. Ubaldo Jimenez

5. Kevin Gausman

Bullpen:

CL: Zach Britton

SU: Darren O"Day

SU: Tommy Hunter

MR: Brad Brach

MR: Wesley Wright

MR: Logan Verrett

LR: Miguel Gonzalez

Pitchers Cut:

Brian Matusz – Traded or DFA'd

Ryan Webb – Traded or DFA'd

T.J. McFarland – Optioned to AAA Norfolk

Jason Garcia – Back to Red Sox

I think Gausman steals the last spot in the rotation. I could see him start in the bullpen to keep his innings down or even starting the year in AAA because the need for a 5th starter won't be immediate. I think this pushes Miguel Gonzalez to the bullpen as the long man, a role I think he would excel at. Ubaldo will be in the rotation until he proves he is useless.

For the Bullpen, Matusz gets traded. Verrett stays because he has higher minors experience. I think the Orioles would love to keep Garcia, but unless he is traded for I don't see how they can maintain two relief pitchers who can't be moved around all season long. Wright is the lefty. Britton, O'Day, Hunter, and Brach are locks in my mind.

Position Players:

C: Caleb Joseph

1B: Chris Davis

2B: Jonathan Schoop

3B: Manny Machado

SS: Everth Cabrera

LF: Alejandro De Aza

RF: Travis Snider

CF: Adam Jones

DH: Steve Pearce

Backup Catcher: Ryan Lavarnway

4th OF: Nolan Reimold

Pinch Hitter: Delmon Young

Utility: Ryan Flaherty

Position Players Cut:

Matt Wieters – DL, Replaces Lavarnway when healthy

J.J. Hardy-- DL, Replaces Cabrera when healthy

David Lough – DL, Traded or DFA'd when healthy

Jimmy Paredes – Traded or DFA'd after Game 1

Steve Clevenger – Optioned to AAA Norfolk

The interesting aspect of all of this is Davis' spot not only on the Opening Day roster, but also the 40 man roster. I think Duquette will play some tricks on Opening Day to keep some guys around. He could conceivably carry three extra position players if they option Gonzalez and Gausman and use Davis' spot for another one. Then, after the first game option/DFA the other guys when all other teams will have their rosters set and try to sneak through the guys that don't have any options.

I think Reimold makes it and Lough is cut after his DL stint because it does not make any sense to me to have three left handed corner outfielders. If they keep Reimold that gives them strong platoons for the corner outfield spots with left handed or right handed starters. It also gives them reasonable lead off options against left and right handed starters. Reimold also has been very patient at the plate this spring and has shown good power and speed.

Ryan Lavarnway is the backup catcher while Wieters is on the DL and I'll say Jimmy Paredes takes the spot on Opening Day roster to be hopefully passed through waivers to Norfolk. He gets the axe regardless of a strong spring. He can't play defense and probably can't really hit major league pitching. Everth Cabrera goes down when Hardy comes back and is the first man up from AAA if Schoop falters or another injury occurs.

***

Third, Chris Booze

Starters:

1. Chris Tillman

2. Wei-Yin Chen

3. Miguel Gonzalez

4. Bud Norris

5. Ubaldo Jimenez

Bullpen:

CL: Zach Britton

SU: Darren O"Day

SU: Tommy Hunter

MR: Wesley Wright

MR: Brad Brach

MR: Ryan Webb

LR: Jason Garcia

Pitchers Cut:

Brian Matusz - Traded to Mets for Logan Verrett

Logan Verrett - Optioned to AAA Norfolk

T.J. McFarland - Optioned to AAA Norfolk

Kevin Gausman - Optioned to AAA Norfolk

As much as most of us don't want to see Kevin Gausman return to Norfolk again, I just have the feeling that this is the direction we're headed. Tillman, Norris, and Chen are locks, and the Orioles seem to be giving Ubaldo every opportunity to make the rotation. The past few outings he's looked pretty good, so I think they're going to start him out there and see what happens. Gonzalez could be the guy they send down, but it just seems like Gausman is a more likely candidate based on how they've handled him in the past. Regardless, he'll probably be back in the rotation sooner rather than later.

The Matusz-Verrett trade just makes too much sense to not be pursued. The Mets are openly interested in Matusz, meanwhile, the O's have seemingly replaced him with Wesley Wright and would love to be able to stash Verrett in Norfolk. The wrench in that plan is the fact that Verrett has to clear waivers before he can be traded, but nearly every team had the chance to take Verrett ahead of Baltimore in the Rule 5 draft, so it could happen. [Update: I wrote this before the Mets went on their lefty shopping spree yesterday. This trade looks much less likely to happen now, but I'll still go with the same final 25: Matusz traded elsewhere, Verrett returning to New York, and Garcia sticking around]

For Garcia, the consensus is that the Orioles like him but won't be able to find a way to keep him on the roster. However, it seems like Duquette gives us at least one roster surprise every Opening Day, so I'm picking Garcia to be that guy this year, with T.J. McFarland as the undeserving victim of bullpen math.

Position Players:

C: Caleb Joseph

1B: Chris Davis

2B: Jonathan Schoop

3B: Manny Machado

SS: Everth Cabrera

LF: Alejandro De Aza

RF: Travis Snider

CF: Adam Jones

DH: Steve Pearce

Backup Catcher Ryan Lavarnway

4th OF: Nolan Reimold

Pinch Hitter: Delmon Young

Utility: Ryan Flaherty

Positions Cut:

Jimmy Paredes - Fills Davis' spot Game 1, then optioned to Norfolk (must clear waivers)

David Lough - DL, Replaces Reimold when healthy

JJ Hardy - DL, Replaces Flaherty when healthy

Matt Wieters - DL, Replaces Lavarnway when healthy

Steve Clevenger- Optioned to AAA Norfolk

With J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters out, Cabrera and Joseph slide into the starting lineup. For the backup catcher spot I'm going with Lavarnway. It sure seems like the Orioles are not going to let Clevenger see much time until he improves his defense, and the best way to do that is playing every day in Norfolk.

For the bench, Lough's injury and Young's ineptitude in the field leads me to think they'll keep a true 4th outfielder around in Nolan Reimold. Hardy's trip to the DL means that the Birds can keep Paredes on the squad and DFA him when Chris Davis returns after the last game of his suspension. Even though Paredes really doesn't have a position, the Orioles don't want to lose him for nothing. Waiting until game two to place him waivers means he has a better chance of sneaking through once the other teams have all finalized their rosters.

Once J.J. returns, I have Flaherty going to Norfolk instead of Cabrera. I think Cabrera will be a pleasant surprise this year, and his speed off the bench is more useful than Flaherty's. One advantage to having Flaherty in that spot is his ability to play 3rd, but the Orioles seem to trust Davis there enough that a backup third baseman on the bench may not be necessary.

***

That's it, so what do you think?