Entering the holidays and hot stove doldrums, I figured this deserved a diary thread, seeing as how its likely the roster will not undergo much upheaval going into spring training.
Assuming the roster stays pat, to me one of the biggest questions for next year is what role Andy Marte plays. He was our starting 3B at the beginning of last year, and even though his avg sucked, he handled himself pretty well at the hot corner throughout the cold weather and his ISO was decent. If he hadn't pulled a hammy, he probably would have made it into the warm weather as our 3B and gotten the sustained ML at bats most have figured he needs to give some indication of what kind of player he'll be.
A year later and much is the same - nobody knows. With the crucial distinction that he's out of options. Assuming health and a decent spring training, is he our starter at third once again? A backup at third and first? DFA? Minor part of a trade package? A very unusual range of options for someone who was an uber-prospect 2 years ago, and caused ShapCo to go through a very extended and public trade negotiation to acquire him as the third baseman of the future.
I'm of the opinion that he more than others needs consistent playing time to show anything, but given last season and the pressure to win in '08, it's hard to see him handed the starting job. Which means he's in a tough spot. And there are only 25.