4. Who’s going to play left? We’ve heard Raburn, and personally I think that’s smart. [Cue bitter disagreement] Dombrowski uses placeholders, though. Guys whose jobs are secure until they aren’t. We can be pretty sure that Magglio is a lock in right, but there is no equivalent dollar commitment backing Raburn. His fate may be determined in April-May, if he can’t start warmer than he has in the past or hit tough righties – or, of course, if he hits like Shelton and silences the doubters. Or it could be determined earlier, like it was a year ago. We had been told Raburn was going to be a regular, then Johnny Damon started courting Mike Illitch and the rest is history. Maybe, perhaps in an attempt to put more lefties in the lineup, another opportunity will present itself. Again, we’ll never hear about that possibility in advance.
5. Are we going to have a backup catcher? I’ve heard literally nothing about this, but we all know that teams don’t like to DH their backup catcher for a reason, just like they don’t use him to pinch hit. Maybe they’ll save some pennies and go with a subpar internal candidate like Maxim St. Pierre, but that would mean a bench spot for a guy who couldn’t even be used as a pinch hitter when Avila got the day off. Or they could go lean with only two catchers on the roster. Or they could make a move for a veteran presence.
6. What are we going to do with all those extra outfielders? If Brennan Boesch isn’t going to start, what are we going to do with him? What about Casper Wells? They don’t quite fit the profile for a fourth outfielder on a team like this. I do like the idea of platooning Wells and Jackson, though. Ryan Streiby, assuming he’s healthy, is our best bat in the high minors – and he’s stuck in the same logjam. So is Andy Dirks, who is tearing up Dominican League pitching. He had a solid 2010 in Erie and Toledo, hits left-handed, plays good D and is only 23. It may be time to forgive his sorry 2009 campaign; he’s a real prospect again. It seems like somebody is going to have to be moved here – maybe for relief options, or a third catcher? I’ll be watching.
7. Of course… What’s going on in Minnesota? One of those teams that hasn’t addressed it’s questions quickly is the Twins, and we’ll still be watching to see if they are able to retain Pavano or Thome and what happens to their beleaguered bullpen.