Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Friday, September 29, 2006

My Postseason Roster

It's almost time to set the 25-man playoff roster. I'm going to ignore questions of whether players were on the roster by the drop-dead date (August 31) because there are loopholes available to teams with players on the DL, so the Twins can pretty much finagle anyone they want to on the post-season roster. I'm not going to say anything about the obvious picks because, well, they're obvious. I'll do my best to defend my later picks (and there are really only a couple of tough calls).

#1 - Johan Santana (Game 1 starter)
#2 - Boof Bonser (Game 2 starter)
#3 - Brad Radke (Game 3 starter - he's as close to healthy as he's going to get)
#4 - Matt Garza (Game 4 starter - trust him more than the spotty Silva)
#5 - Joe Nathan (Closer)
#6 - Juan Rincon (Setup - at least that's what we'll call him, for old times sake)
#7 - Dennys Reyes (Lefty specialist)
#8 - Pat Neshek
#9 - Jesse Crain
#10 - Matt Guerrier
#11 - Glen Perkins (see justification below)
#12 - Joe Mauer (Catcher)
#13 - Justin Morneau (1B)
#14 - Luis Castillo (2B)
#15 - Nick Punto (3B)
#16 - Jason Bartlett (SS)
#17 - Rondell White (LF)
#18 - Torii Hunter (CF)
#19 - Michael Cuddyer (RF)
#20 - Jason Tyner (DH)
#21 - Mike Redmond (#2 C)
#22 - Luis Rodriguez (IF)
#23 - Phil Nevin (IF/DH - justified below)
#24 - Lew Ford (OF - justified below)
#25 - Jason Kubel (OF - justified below)

Honorable mentions left off the list (i.e. everyone else on the active roster right now):
P - Carlos Silva
P - Willie Eyre
P - Scott Baker
C/IF - Chris Heintz
IF - Alexi Casilla
IF - Terry Tiffee
OF - Josh Rabe

First, the obvious: Scott Baker and Chris Heintz have no business being on the post-season roster, period. I can't think of any really good justifications for having them on the roster, unless you want to argue that Heintz should be on so that the Twins can use Mauer and Redmond in the same game. I don't see the Twins doing that, however, since it's not something they even toyed around with much in September, when experiments with the lineup are more likely. So, if this is something you're pushing for (that'd be you, Marty), I hate to break it to you but it isn't going to happen.

That leaves five guys who reasonable arguments can be fit together for, but Willie Eyre really doesn't have much of an argument. He's not a starter, and there are better options for long relievers, so unfortunately for him it's pretty much a numbers crunch. See you next spring, Willie.

There's also not much of an argument to be put together for Josh Rabe. The Twins don't use him now, so why would they add him to the roster for the post-season? If anything, the roster is already too outfielder-heavy, so subtraction, not addition, is probably in order. I like what I've seen from Rabe, and suspect that he'll get a good long look in the Spring for a roster spot, but there's not much chance of him being added to the post-season roster now.

That leaves Tiffee, Casilla, and Silva. The arguments for taking the first two on that list are easy: as I already mentioned, the roster I have listed above is outfielder heavy. The Twins may decide that having another infielder is a plus, and both Tiffee and Casilla can fill that role. Casilla gives you more speed off the bench (arguably a great reason to take him, and if he makes the roster that will almost certainly be why), while Tiffee gives you a bit more Major League experience and more power. If I had to take one of these two, there's no question that it would be Casilla because of the speed factor, so that probably puts Tiffee on the outside looking in.

Silva is a tough cut, and not putting him on the post-season roster would almost certainly indicate that the Twins intend to not bring him back next year. With Brad Radke retiring, that could be risky because of Silva's veteran status, so it'll come down to whether the Twins think they can find another veteran to help Santana or not. It would be very hard to bring him back next year after leaving him off the roster now; that'd be a pretty serious shot at him. Why bring him? Because he could most easily slide in to make an emergency start if necessary, and because a long relief role could work for him. Plus, he's a high paid veteran compared to the alternatives, which makes him a bit more attractive since you pay his salary either way.

Those are the arguments FOR the guys I've listed above, but I stand by the roster that I have at the top of the post. Here's why I take the guys I take over the alternatives:

Glen Perkins (over Carlos Silva, Scott Baker, or Willie Eyre)
As mentioned above, the only real choice here is Perkins or Silva (or "none of the above," I guess, if the Twins choose to go with a 10-man pitching staff, not unheard of in the playoffs). I like Perkins for two reasons, however. First, he's a lefty. With Dennys Reyes the only other lefty in the 'pen, having Perkins available may be a plus, and would certainly add flexibility. The way he handled Jim Thome tonight was fantastic, and leaves me with little doubt that he's capable of handling himself in that situation. Also, as a guy who's been a starter all season, he's capable of fulfilling the Carlos Silva "emergency starter/long relief" role, if necessary. Add to that the fact that Silva has been horribly inconsistent, and I go with Perkins.

Phil Nevin (over Terry Tiffee or Alexi Casilla)
Forget about the guys I already ruled out: Why Nevin over Tiffee or Casilla? Well, Nevin and Tiffee are capable of filling very similar roles as IF/DH pinch-hitter types. Tiffee adds the ability to hit from the left and so could be more valuable off the bench in some situations, but Nevin is much more powerful and has significantly more experience. That's ultimately his biggest strength (although actually hitting a few homers instead of just being a "power threat" would really, really be nice). I take Nevin because he helps balance the bench with some power, and really that's the only reason. He'll probably get a few starts at DH as well.

Lew Ford (over Terry Tiffee or Alexi Casilla)
Ford is the backup center-fielder. He's had a very poor season, and very well might be in his final days with the Twins. But I take him because of the flexibility he gives me in the outfield, with the ability to play any position in an injury/replacement situation, and because he has a bit of speed.

Jason Kubel (over Terry Tiffee or Alexi Casilla)
I would wager that if Casilla makes the team, it will be at the expense of Kubel, who has barely emerged from the dugout over the past few months, and hasn't done much of anything when he has. As a matter of fact, he's just 1-for-6 in September, and that 1 hit came back on September 10, which was also the only game he started in September. I don't know if it's the knee, or a lack of confidence in himself (and in him by the Twins management), or what, but he's definitely out of the Twins graces. That said, he's the left-handed Phil Nevin, a potential power threat from other side that helps balance the bench. If he isn't on the roster, there is nobody who fills that role for the Twins. That's why I think he'll make the roster, but Casilla and his speed also adds a different dimension that may be desirable to the Twins. And, if you remember back to the last time the Twins were in the playoffs, Kubel's performance against the Yankees in 2004 was not exactly awe-inspiring, unless you like to see a youngster take big hacks (and miss badly) against high fastballs. I'm not so sure Kubel would do much better this time around, but I bet we'll get a chance to find out.


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