It’s a bit of a crap shoot still, but there are some certainties, some highly-likley and some what Scioscia will probably do. Let’s take a look at how the Active roster will/should look on opening day.
Catcher (2) – Chris Iannetta is a no brainer here. Let’s hope he has another great season and so far by the looks of his bat in spring training, he’s heading in the right direction. Despite being one of the worst players to ever swing a bat, Drew Butera could land the backup job for his defensive skills. My hope is that Carlos Perez will impress in spring training and land the backup job. Sadly if I had to bet, I’d go with Butera since I’m pretty sure they got him for his defense and NOT his bat since he would be backup after all. But I’m going to leave my pick at Perez because I’m optimistic and I think he can replicate Butera’s defense AND put up way better offensive numbers.
1B – Albert Pujols (DH)
2B – Josh Rutledge
SS – Eric Aybar
3B – David Freese
Utility – Efron Navarro (1B/OF)
Utility – Grant Green (2B/SS/3B/OF)
DH/1B – CJ Cron
Personally, I think Grant Green is our starting second baseman. However, Jerry Dipoto didn’t give up a top pitching prospect for nothing when he already had Green poised and ready to play second. It seems clear that at least before Tempe, there was not 100% confidence in Green for the job. However, Rutledge posts a WORSE WAR and lower defensive numbers than Green, an attribute he is often considered lacking. I will be happier than Trout with a low fastball if Green wins the spot but I’m thinking it goes to Josh Rutledge. The rest of the infield is pretty straight forward with Albert Pujols, Eric Aybar & David Freese. Efron Navarro and CJ Cron seem to be shoe-ins, especially with Hamilton out of the lineup and their ability to DH and play outfield among other things. They have both been playing well in spring to help seal the deal. Taylor Featherston has a shot at the utility infielder role but by money is on Grant Green who proved last season that he can play anywhere and is available as an outfielder as well.
Kole Calhoun, Mike Trout, Collin Cowgill, and Matt Joyce. Unless Hamilton gets a full year suspension or Dipoto finds someone desperate enough to want him, Cowgill and Joyce will neither be full time starters, but rather fill-ins for the left field spot with an occasional Navarro and maybe even Green filling the role. Joyce has a .342 career OBP which is a bit better than Cowgill at .306 though Cowgill did post a slightly better WAR in 2014. Either way, they are good platoon in left for the time being despite neither being amazing standouts, but both having a good potential upside.
Starting Pitchers (5)
Jered Weaver, CJ Wilson, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago, Andrew Heaney. My money is on Santiago and Heaney being in the opening day rotation. I wish Santiago weren’t there but he’s certain to be unless he blows up in a major way in spring training. I DO think Heaney will keep his spot and Santiago will be bumped to the pen or potential trade bait once Richards rejoins the fray. Nick Tropeano, Drew Rucinski, and Jose Alverez are probably not ready to crack the opening day rotation but are great pieces for pitching depth in 2015 and in case we run into any problems like 2014 (ie., CJ Wilson blowing up, Richards going down, etc.)
Relief Pitchers (7)
Huston Street, Joe Smith, Mike Morin, Fernando Salas, Cesar Ramos, Vinnie Pestano, Matt Lindstrom. The new kids on the block here are Ramos and Lindstrom with Ramos getting the pink backpack handoff from Morin. Smith will be the 8th inning guy with Street trying to equal a career best 41 saves again in 2015. Depending on the situation, Scioscia will probably go with a combo for the 7th inning depending on the situation. That combo is likely to be comprised of Morin, Ramos, Sals and Rasmus, Rasmus of course, can also be a long middle reliever with Lindstrom fighting this year to stay in the pen, considering the Angels will have a bevy of relievers in AAA waiting in the wings to jump on the big league mound.