Like a lot of fans, I am puzzled by some of the roster decisions to start the year. They belie what has been publicly said throughout the off-season and through spring training. Perhaps the answer to these puzzles can be found in statements by the guy with the loose lips (Gardy), who has hinted at a trade and told Marnie Gelner on opening night that the roster still needs tweaking. This is my attempt to sort out what moves might be made, based on statements by the GM and the manager.
First the guys on the roster:
*Ryan and company said Liriano needs innings, and he is not assured of getting enough innings working out of the bullpen. He might, but if the starters perform well in the early goings, he will get one or two innings at a time plus bullpens, which is exactly what Ryan wanted to avoid. In recent discussions, both Ryan and Gardy have expressed concern about the opportunity to stretch him out like they want.
*Gardy said throughout spring training that he wanted to find a way to keep L-Rod on the roster. But there is no way a team can keep five middle infielders. This is one reason why Bartlett was sent out instead of L-Rod. The only way to keep L-Rod and Bartlett is by trading either Punto or Castro.
*Gardy has also said that he will accept Batista because "they insist he'll be fine". Suffice it to say that Batista is the antithesis of a Gardy player--slow motor, swing for the fences, minimal range. The only thing he has going for him in Gardy's eyes is his veteran status, clubhouse clown personality, and tendency to stay healthy. But Gardy's clearly not happy with the situation.
Now the guys not on the roster:
*Ryan has said that Bartlett has nothing left to prove at AAA. Yet they send him down to work on something. Both Gardy and Ryan have said if he works on a couple of things, he'll be back up eventually. The questions are: when? and at the expense of whom?
*Gardy has hinted that Reyes will be back up soon, after he works on something he could just as well work on out of the bullpen (holding runners on). And he has said that Liriano is not well suited to the LOOGY role because he wants to stretch him out into a long man or starter. Ryan has said he expects to have a pure LOOGY on the team.
*Gardy has said that as soon as Sierra plays several days in a row in the Instructional League, he'll be added to the team. Who goes away when he's added?
Perhaps Ryan is working on a trade that is just taking longer to consummate than he would like. Here's a wildly optimistic guess:
Nick Punto, Michael Cuddyer, and Scott Baker to the Reds for a package that includes Edwin Encarnacion.
That would solve all the problems at once. Gardy could call up Sierra, Reyes, and Bartlett, get rid of Batista, and move Liriano into the rotation. The only thing to do is to try to stretch out Liriano before the trade, so he can at least go five innings when he moves into the rotation.