A potential dilemma with Angels’ final roster spot
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto always talks about depth. Not just depth on the 25-man roster, but organizational depth, all throughout his system.
And that seems relevant with regards to the two biggest roster decisions remaining for manager Mike Scioscia.
The Angels packed it up in Tempe, Ariz., on Sunday and headed to Southern California for the start of the three-game, exhibition Freeway Series against the Dodgers. Still left to figure out is the final bench spot, which is seemingly down to Jorge Cantu and Alexi Amarista, and the final rotation spot, which is down to Jerome Williams and Garrett Richards — though the Angels won’t need a fifth starter until April 15.
In each case, the decision seems to boil down to one question: Do you take the guy who makes your team better right now, or the guy you don’t want to lose?
Amarista has had a better spring than Cantu, is more versatile — with the ability to play the middle infield and all three outfield spots — and can be used late in games as a pinch-runner (awfully important if Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo are in the same starting lineup). But he has options left, meaning he can be sent down and can still remain in the organization.
Cantu, by his own right, has had a fine spring, can still be a useful big leaguer and provides a solid, veteran bat off the bench. On this club, however, he’s redundant with the amount of corner infielders and right-handed hitters. The good thing with Cantu is the Angels have until May 1 — the day of his Minor League opt-out — to decide what to do with him, so even if they go with Amarista to start the season, they can buy some time with Cantu in their system for a month.
Then there’s the fifth starter.
This one leans even more heavily to the veteran. Richards, no doubt, is the more talented starter of the two. He’s the top pitching prospect in the Angels’ system, boasts a bigger arm and has a ton more upside than Williams. And he’s had a pretty solid spring, too. But Richards is only 23, has yet to play in Triple-A and, of course, can be optioned to the Minor Leagues.
Williams, however, has had a really bad spring, missing about three weeks with a strained left hamstring and getting only two Minor League starts under his belt so far. The 30-year-old right-hander pitched well down the stretch last season and, rightfully so, came in as the relative favorite for the fifth spot. More importantly, though, Williams is out of options. And considering the amount of clubs that are always looking for pitching depth, there’s little chance he slips through waivers unclaimed if he shows he’s healthy in these next two outings.
So, who would you choose?