40 Man Roster Headaches

40 Man Roster Headaches

The 40 man roster seems easy. On September 1st, just call up the 15 best guys in the minors, bring them to Phoenix, and hope they can help the club down the stretch, or at worst, get some valuable experience at the Major League level. As D'Backs Director of Player Development AJ Hinch explains there is much more to the process than that.

Diamondbacks Director of Player Development AJ Hinch is directly involved in the process, but he doesn't profess it to be a one man show.

"It's a real team effort, and Josh (Byrnes) is great about getting input from everybody.  I'm involved, but so is (Director of Professional Scouting) Jerry Dipoto, and since Mike Rizzo left, a lot of his responsibilities have fallen to Chad MacDonald, who is filling in on an interim basis."

Why so many hands in the cookie jar?  Because it's more than just the 15 best minor leaguers.

"The first thing you always look at is who can help the club now.  Whether it is a left handed bat, or a speed guy who can steal a base, or another arm out of the bullpen, you are looking to bring up guys who are going to be able to contribute.  It isn't just about someone filling a locker at Chase Field."

A prime example of a player who can fill a 'need' would be Miguel Montero.  As a former Minor League catcher in the Phillies system, Hinch has a special appreciation of what Montero can bring to a club.

"Another catcher on the roster can really give our Manager a lot of flexibility as well.  You go through most of the season with just two catchers on the roster, sometimes three, but in our case Johnny Estrada and Chris Snyder have been there all season.  When you add a third guy like Montero, now those guys can get a day off, but Johnny can be a great pinch hitter because he hits from both sides of the plate, and if the Manager wants, he can do things like double-switch or pinch run, because he's got another quality player there to play that position."

Still, there are other factors to consider as well.

"You also have to look at the fact that some guys don't need to be on the 40 man roster," Hinch explained.

By 'need' Hinch is referring to the Rule V draft.  Players with less than three years of minor league experience are not eligible to be taken in the Winter Draft, and players on the 40 man roster are not eligible to be taken.  So some top prospects, like Micah Owings and Greg Smith, are not likely to get a spot at Chase Field, regardless of whether or not they are ready, because at the end of the day, they don't have to be protected.

That phenomenon is exactly why Carlos Quentin is seeing his first MLB action this season as opposed to last.  Despite the fact that everyone in baseball knew he was ready for The Show, Quentin did not need to be protected, and rather than put the D'Backs in a position where the had to use a 40 man spot for him to protect him, they decided to have him wait one more year, because the 40 man was already crowded enough.

The problem comes because Arizona has one of the deepest farm systems in the league.  Just last year there were tough decisions to make, and when 2nd baseman Dan Uggla was left unprotected, the Florida Marlins snatched him up.  All Uggla has done is hit .300 with 20+ home runs.  He's a candidate for Rookie of the Year this year.  It wasn't that the D'Backs thought he wouldn't be a good player, it was just that they didn't have room for him on the roster.

"Another problem we have is that there are guys who will contribute on this team that are on the disabled list," Hinch says in reference to Tony Clark, Jeff DaVanon and Andy Green, "when those guys come off the DL, they are going to take up some more spots."

With the D'Backs firmly in the running, and Shawn Green getting moved to the Mets, there are opportunities for these guys to make a real splash.  Having a deep farm system is always a plus, but it can certainly make for some headaches as well.  Inevitably there is going to be a player or two that the D'Backs would like to protect that they simply won't have room for, and the trick is picking the ones who can help the most now, but will also help you down the line.

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