SF Giants' Aaron Rowand and 6 MLB Veterans in Danger of Cuts by Opening Day
We are about a week-and-a-half away from Major League Baseball's Opening Day. It's time now for ball clubs everywhere to start cutting personnel as they finalize their 25-man rosters.
There are a number of players who are at risk of being released by their current teams as spring training rolls along. Typically, these are aging veterans who are struggling in exhibition games, who are injured and unlikely to be ready for Opening Day, or who are playing crowded positions and have fallen out of favor with their organizations.
Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez and Garrett Atkins have already been given the ax by their clubs (Castillo has since latched on with the Phillies on a minor-league contract).
Here is a look at some other major-league veterans who could be next on the chopping block.
In 2007, Aaron Rowand put together the best season of his career. As a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, he smacked 27 home runs, drove in 89 runs and he was an All-Star for the first (and so far only) time.
In no time, Rowand cashed in on that season. He signed a five-year, $60 million contract with the San Francisco Giants before Christmas that year. For the Giants, that contract hasn't exactly worked out the way they were hoping.
Since 2008, Rowand has a total of 39 home runs and he has been relegated to being a part-time center fielder for the G-Men.
Rowand is owed a total of $24 million over the next two seasons, but with the plethora of outfielders the Giants currently have, there may not be room for a struggling 33-year-old at AT&T Park. Cody Ross, Nate Schierholtz, Andres Torres, Mark DeRosa and Darren Ford are all battling Rowand for playing time in a crowded Giants outfield.
The Giants auditioned Rowand in left field on Sunday, as they are trying to display his talents in hopes of a possible trade before Opening Day. With his spring training batting average hovering around the Mendoza line, though, it may be tough to trade him.
Brandon Wood just turned 26 years old, and already he has become a rather large disappointment for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Wood, a former first-round pick, showed incredible power potential in the minor leagues. Over eight minor-league seasons, Wood compiled over 160 home runs. Thus far, however, Wood has not been able to translate that into major-league success.
While bouncing back and forth between the minors and majors, Wood has only 11 long balls and a batting average under the Mendoza line.
Wood, who can play all over the infield, is out of minor-league options. Despite having himself a decent spring training, the Angels infield may be a bit too crowded for this once highly touted yet highly disappointing prospect.
The Seattle Mariners signed left-hander Nate Robertson to a minor-league contract in January. He had hopes of winning a spot in the M's rotation for 2011. But now he may have to be content with just sticking with the team.
Robertson underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow on Wednesday and he is expected to miss at least four weeks. Not only does this hurt his chances on being a part of the Mariners' starting five, but they very well may just choose to cut ties and move on.
He split time between the Marlins and Phillies in 2010, which was a dismal campaign for the Wichita native. In fact, he's had a really bad stretch the last few years. He hasn't posted an ERA under 5.00 since 2007 and he hasn't had double-digit wins since '06.
Right now it seems the only hope for Robertson is that his recovery time is shorter than expected and either Erik Bedard is not completely healthy and/or rookie Michael Pineda is not ready for the Show. Even so, the Mariners are very deep in starting pitchers, which could leave Nate "the Great" as the odd man out.
Nick Green has been around for a while—he's played in almost 400 major-league games. But he's been unable to stick with any one team for an extended period of time. The longest he's ever spent with one team was with Tampa Bay from March 2005-May 2006. In 2010, he was signed by three teams (but only saw major-league action with two).
In January, the Baltimore Orioles signed the veteran utility infielder to a minor-league contract. By Opening Day, however, Green could be wearing yet another uniform.
The Orioles have a very crowded infield. Derrek Lee, Brian Roberts, J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds are slated to be the starting four. After them, the O's have Jake Fox, Josh Bell, Robert Andino and Cesar Izturis. Brendan Harris is also in the mix for the utility infield job in Baltimore.
Green should be accustomed to playing in a different city, though. He's been all over the country during his six-year career. He's played parts of big-league seasons in Atlanta, Tampa Bay, New York (with the Yankees), Toronto, Boston, Seattle and Los Angeles.
Scott Olsen has yet to throw a major-league pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates, yet his days with the Bucs could be numbered.
Olsen, brought in on a one-year, $550,000 contract, is currently competing for the fifth spot in the rotation and/or to be a left-handed reliever out of the bullpen. There is a lot of competition, and while none of the other combatants are performing exceptionally well, Olsen may very well end up being the odd man out.
Olsen, a former sixth-round pick by the Florida Marlins, was once a very promising southpaw. But injuries and ineffectiveness have put him towards the bottom of any pecking order. The Pirates claimed fellow lefty Garrett Olson off waivers from Seattle on Friday, which only added to the challenge Olsen was facing.
Olsen made his first spring training appearance on Monday and he has not looked sharp. Signed to a low-dollar contract, seeing Olsen released before Opening Day would not come as much of a surprise.
Sergio Mitre's tenure with the New York Yankees has been less than stellar. Mitre has pitched a total of 39 games since donning a Yankees jersey in 2009 and he has just three wins and just over 100 innings pitched to show.
This spring, he is in competition with spring training-invitees Bartolo Colon, Mark Prior and Freddy Garcia for the fifth spot in the Bombers rotation (Colon has had a very fine spring, and Garcia can become a free agent on March 29 if he is not guaranteed a roster spot). The bullpen for the Yankees seems to be full and set, so there's no real room for him there either.
Mitre is due to become a free agent at the end of the 2011 season—but he may be seeking new employment before that even happens.