First Cuts of Spring
Expected by me:
Oswaldo Sosa - RHP
Armando Gabino - RHP
Deolis Guerra - RHP
Jeff Christy - C
Allan de San Miguel - C
Felix Molina - 2B
Darnell McDonald - OF
Jose Mijares - LHP
Zach Day - RHP
Brian Duensing - LHP
Jose Morales - C
Alejandro Machado - IF
Mijares wasn't actually unexpected -- I just forgot about him yesterday. He is going to miss significant time this season (probably the entire season) with an injury sustained in a car accident, and so I don't believe he was ever actually in camp. Nonetheless, he's on the 40-man roster and so had to be officially dealt with by the team. The team chose to option him to AA New Britain to clear him off of the active roster, and while there had been some speculation that he would eventually make his way onto the 60-Day DL, this presumably makes a lot more sense from a financial standpoint since Mijares would have had to be paid a big league salary for the season if he was on a big league DL.
Now to the more surprising names, starting with Zach Day. I wasn't a big fan of the Day signing at the time, because I was ready for the full-fledged youth movement to take over the rotation. It became a moot point, however, when the team signed Livan Hernandez to hold down the requisite "veteran pitcher" slot in the rotation. Day pitched just three innings in camp, giving up 3 earned runs on 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 3. Simply put, those weren't good enough numbers to justify keeping him around when he no longer fit anywhere on the roster. He's now in minor league camp, but I think he'll have to earn a spot in the Rochester rotation -- depending on how things shake out, there simply might not be any reason to keep him around even in that role -- although at the list I think he could be kept around as a long reliever even if he doesn't make the rotation.
Brian Duensing was a surprise to me because I thought he'd make it at least to the second round of cuts -- however, he was absolutely terrible in limited action this spring, never finding his control. In 2.1 innings, Duensing gave up 5 runs on 5 hits and 5 walks while striking out just 2. Basically, I think he played himself out of a more extended run in spring training. His odds of making the team were never good, because there were so many players in camp who were above him in the pecking order. Nonetheless, this was a bit of a flame-out on his part.
Perhaps the most surprising cut announced today was Jose Morales. Obviously, the Twins already have their starting and backup catchers solidly locked in place, but a lot of fans who I've spoken with this spring (including some in the comments on this blog, if I recall correctly) thought that Morales could make the team as the 25th man on the roster. I think this move, more than anything else so far, provides a pretty strong indication that the Twins are serious about taking 12 pitchers north -- and that's a strategy I agree with considering the youth of the starting rotation. Morales was removed from big league camp by optioning him to AAA.
Finally, Alejandro Machado didn't last long. When I released my first list of roster projections, I put Machado in the drivers seat for the second backup middle infielder position -- mostly because there were a lot of names and I thought he had a skill set that might be useful. I moved him out of that position quickly, but I'm still surprised by the quick cut for Machado. It was fairly clear from the sparse use the team made of him this spring (just 5 AB's), however, that the Twins never really considered him a viable major league option.
From this point on, expect a few cuts to be made every couple of days going forward. Last year, the first list of cuts was made on Monday, March 12 -- and the next two cuts came the next day. In other words, marginal players (such as Mariano Gomez) could be gone at any time. The really interesting cuts, of course, aren't likely to come until the last week of camp.
Finally, I'll have a roster update posted later today -- but I want to give this post some time to breath at the top of the blog for a few hours first.