Nate Spears of the Boston Red Sox stikes out in his first MLB at bat against the Toronto Blue Jays during MLB action at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Courtesy of a Red Sox press release, the full non-roster invite list for Boston's spring training was unveiled. It's unlikely most of these players make the team, but there is a chance many of them will end up with minor league deals, and some of the pitchers are in line to even start the year on the Opening Day roster. While that sounds depressing at first, there's an inordinate amount of pitching talent invited to camp on NRIs, whereas on the offensive side of things, there's quantity, but not necessarily quality.
To make things a bit easier for reference purposes, here's a "lineup" and rotation made up entirely of NRI players. Tony Pena Jr. is in camp as a pitcher, as he gave up being an infielder years ago, but we were an infielder short of a full lineup, and he isn't likely to make the Opening Day roster as a pitcher, either. Take one for the hypothetical team, Tony:
|C||Max St. Pierre|
|RF||Juan Carlos Linares|
I've managed to create a lineup that even the Astros can't be jealous of. I like Hassan as a sleeper for a solid career, but he's still got work to do on his swing if he ever wants to get there -- his impressive patience won't do him many favors if pitchers know he can't drive the ball in the bigs. Juan Carlos Linares was supposed to provide some depth last year, but, like with Ryan Kalish, injuries kept him from filling that role. Daniel Butler is a catcher who has hit a bit in the minors, but since the team also has Max St. Pierre and only one of the two can hit, Butler defaults to DH for the sake of balance.
Instead of having Tony Pena Jr. in the lineup, I could have just put Nate Spears at shortstop, second, and third.
This is probably the strongest non-roster invite rotation any team could make. I'm not going to double-check this to see if it's fact, as that's a good way to disprove my theory. At the least, it's probably better than Baltimore's rotation. (That isn't a joke.)
Four of the eight pitchers vying for one of the last two rotation spots is here, though -- five if Ross Ohlendorf is on the list as well -- and, except for Wilson, we know all are capable of facing major league hitters. Cook, Padilla, and Ohlendorf might all end up in the bullpen instead of the rotation or the minors, and Wilson might end up being a reliever before the year is out. We definitely don't need them in the NRI bullpen, that's for sure:
LOOGYs galore! Brandon Duckworth and his name! Two guys named Justin! Nine out of nine pitchers recognized by our automatic name linker! A few of these pitchers might end up on the Red Sox' MLB roster at some point -- Rich Hill, Scott Atchison, maybe Jesse Carlson if Hill isn't available -- and the rest are likely Pawtucket-bound or not making any roster at all. If you're wondering why there's a nine-man bullpen, look no further than the fact that Boston invited 15 pitchers to spring training, and I only needed one of them to play short.