When considering the possible dynamic of the 2013 Los Angeles Angels roster as spring training moves forward, there are a few things that are certain.
There isn't a ton of room left on a 25-man roster that was practically set in December. It will be difficult for active players lower on the 40-man depth chart to break through. And it will be almost impossible for the non-roster invites to make the squad.
And so goes the grind and reality of the MLB—most players would wear a ball gown and rubber flip-flops if it meant a chance at a roster spot.
However, that doesn't mean the lineup and pitching staff have been etched in stone. The Angels still have areas on the roster that need to be addressed—not many, but enough for a legitimate competition.
Unfortunately, there is difficulty figuring out which players do get the final spots. Spring training games often get a bit overrated, especially when determining how a player is progressing.
That is to say, I would put about as much hype into Vernon Wells hitting .364 as I would into Albert Pujols hitting .000.
But decisions have to be made and opinions scribbled.
Let’s take a gander at three non-roster invites that could fill the platoon role in the infield, the platoon role in the outfield and a possible seventh reliever position for the Angels this season.
Let's get it all out there.
Yes, he has already taken time off because of tightness in his right quad. Yes, he is 33 years old. Yes, I thought he had retired, too.
And no, the Angels don't need to bring another aging player to the confines of Anaheim, pay him any sort of money, then hope for revitalization a la Vernon Wells in 2006.
I understand all of that noise. But man, there is still something about Bill Hall in an Angels uniform—it works.
I have been on the "no way, Jose" side when it comes to the infield depth this season. With Kaleb Cowart still a small ways off from escaping minor-league ball—sorry, that's the truth—the list of candidates to fill the Maicer Izturis role looked sparse at best (or is that "at worst?").
Then came Bill Hall—a possible veteran-type leader that is willing to play any position, even if that means starting out in Triple-A (h/t LA Times' Mike DiGiovanna).
It sounds like a win-win to me.
Not only can he play third, short and second (and even the outfield), but he also has the MLB experience teams need, especially at the beginning of the season. And that goes double for the Angels.
Remember 2012? Of course you do.
And if Hall is given the nod, which would cost the team a bit over $500,000, it will give the team flexibility with Andrew Romine—who has also been a surprise this spring with the glove and bat.
While Hall lends his MLB service via the bench—as needed—Romine will have the opportunity to get more at-bats in the minors and serve as the next-best option for the Angels should Hall, or any of the infield, stumble.
Again. A win-win.
The 25-year-old left-hander stands out as one of the more interesting pieces in what has been sort of a boring start to the Angels' spring. Against the San Francisco Giants on February 27, Shuck hit a game-tying single in the seventh inning, providing a little life in what were two tied games in a row for the Angels.
And there is a lot more in the tank for this guy, regardless of the .235 average.
Originally signed by the club to possibly compete with Kole Calhoun for the last spot on the 25-man roster, Shuck has outshined the Angels prospect. While both have had their struggles at the plate, Shuck has shown more of a presence at the dish—and that's not the general "plate presence" cliche writers like to throw out there; he really looks like he has an approach when he hits.
He is similar to a Darin Erstad-type player—good hands with the ability to pull a pitch or drive it into the left-center gap. He also provides decent speed on the bases and while roaming the outfield.
Sure, Trent Oeltjen—another player brought in to compete with Calhoun—has shown he can handle the bat (.375 average), and he has played solid defense during his career (.973 fielding percentage). However, both he and Calhoun haven't impressed me the way Shuck has.
That's not to say Calhoun won't be the future for the Angels. There is no question he will be there, even during this season. But for now, while he is getting at-bats in the minors, Shuck can fill the need of a platoon/backup outfielder.
Remember: Shuck has already proven he can hit in clutch situations.
Could it be that an ex-Texas Ranger helps the Angels in 2013, and his name isn't Josh Hamilton?
Yes. Enter Mitch Stetter.
The less-than-stellar bullpen of 2012 was presumably fixed with the additions of Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett (all was right with the world, general manager Jerry Dipoto had accomplished his mission).
However, both pitchers have battled injuries this spring—Madson most likely won't be ready by the start of the season, and Burnett is still working toward throwing off of the mound—causing concern over the late-inning relief.
Yes, again...but all is not lost.
With Madson working his way back (slowly), Ernesto Frieri will most likely get the ball as the team's closer. He did a good job in that role last season—one of the few bright spots in the pen—so it wouldn't be a major compromise for him to do it again.
In fact, the real worry in that situation should come from Madson—much like Jordan Walden last season, Madson may not get his job back.
But that is only half of the issue.There is also Sean Burnett, seemingly cursed with perplexing back problems that hinder his spring routine (h/t MLB. com's Alden Gonzalez).
Burnett is expected to be ready by Opening Day. However, if he is not ready to go—and there is always that possibility—then the pen will be down a left-hander, leaving only Scott Downs as an option from that side.
And, for the sake of matchups, it wouldn't hurt to add another left-handed arm, regardless of whether Burnett is at full strength.
True, Stetter may not be the overwhelming option to fill that void, but he does have 132 games of MLB experience under his belt, a much-needed element, again, for the Angels squad at the beginning of the year.
Will a move like that work?
It's difficult to see any of the right-handers on the invite list—Billy Buckner, Kevin Johnson, Robert Coello, Tony Pena, A.J. Schugel or WBC-bound Fernando Cabrera—filling the role, and I don't think Brandon Sisk is ready.
But you never know: There are 24 games left in spring training for players to prove otherwise, possibly on the way to becoming the next Quintin Berry in the World Series.
Leaving the certainty...uncertain.