Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Spring Roster Update #3

Every Sunday from now until the end of Spring Training, I'll post an update on the state of the Twins roster. There are 25 roster spots available to be filled by the various players in camp. The 25 players who I think would win those roster spots will appear in black, listed by position. Some of those players are locks to make the team, barring injury, and I've bolded those players. Players who I think still have a chance to win one of those spots will be listed in blue. Also, there are quite a few players in camp who are around simply to give the team warm bodies in the early days of spring -- those players will be listed in red. The order in which a player is listed under any position is a rough rank-ordering, and I'll also note whether a player has moved up or down that list (with a +/-/= system) based on performance so far this spring. If a player is cut, he'll be removed from the main list and placed in a "players cut from camp" section.

At the end of the list of players, I'll offer some brief comments explaining my choices. You should remember that this list does not represent the list of players who I would take north if I could at the end of Spring, but rather the players who I think will win jobs.

One final note: the 25th spot on the roster could go either to a 12th pitcher or a 14th position players. As a result, that position will appear at the end of the list, with both pitchers and position players who could win the position listed.

POSITION - ROSTER SPOT - PLAYER

Starting Pitcher - 1 - Francisco Liriano (=)
Starting Pitcher - 2 - Scott Baker (=)
Starting Pitcher - 3 - Livan Hernandez (=)

Starting Pitcher - 4 - Boof Bonser (=)
Starting Pitcher - 5 - Kevin Slowey (=)
Nick Blackburn (+)
Glen Perkins (-)
Phil Humber (=)
Brian Bass (+)
Kevin Mulvey (+)
Randy Keisler (=)
Closer - 6 - Joe Nathan (=)
Setup - 7 - Pat Neshek (=)
Bullpen - 8 - Matt Guerrier (=)
Bullpen - 9 - Juan Rincon (=)
Bullpen - 10 - Dennys Reyes (=)
Bullpen - 11 - Jesse Crain (=)

Possible alternates listed under Roster Spot #25

Catcher - 12 - Joe Mauer (=)
First Base - 13 - Justin Morneau (=)
Second Base - 14 - Nick Punto (=)
Third Base - 15 - Mike Lamb (=)
Shortstop - 16 - Adam Everett (=)
Left Field - 17 - Delmon Young (=)

Center Field - 18 - Carlos Gomez (=)
Right Field - 19 - Michael Cuddyer (=)
Designated Hitter - 20 - Jason Kubel (=)
Backup Catcher - 21 - Mike Redmond (=)

Eli Whiteside (=)
Drew Butera (=)
Utility Infielder - 22 - Brendan Harris (=)

Utility Infielder - 23 - Brian Buscher (=)
Randy Ruiz (=)
Alexi Casilla (=)
Matt Tolbert (=)
Matt Macri (=)
Howie Clark (=)
Chris Basak (=)
Tommy Watkins (-)
Backup Outfielder - 24 - Craig Monroe (=)
Jason Pridie (=)
Denard Span (=)
Jon Knott (=)

Miscellaneous Reserve - 25 - Carmen Cali (=)
Casey Daigle (+)
Julio DePaula (+)
Mariano Gomez (=)
Ricky Barrett (+)
Garrett Jones (-)

Players No Longer in Camp

Zach Day - reassigned to minor league camp
Brian Duensing - reassigned to minor league camp
Deolis Guerra - reassigned to minor league camp
Oswaldo Sosa - optioned to AA
Armando Gabino - reassigned to minor league camp
Jeff Christy - reassigned to minor league camp
Allan de San Miguel - reassigned to minor league camp
Alejandro Machado - reassigned to minor league camp
Felix Molina - reassigned to minor league camp
Jose Morales - optioned to AAA
Darnell McDonald - reassigned to minor league camp
Jose Mijares - optioned to AA

Starting Pitchers: I decided to leave Kevin Slowey listed in the #5 spot for this week, but further struggles will dislodge him from that spot. Nick Blackburn seems perfectly poised to take it over -- he's been very good so far in camp, and surprisingly (to me) it could result in him winning a spot in the rotation. Meanwhile, as long as there's a battle for the spot, guys like Phil Humber and Brian Bass stay alive in the race. With Francisco Liriano making a successful return to the mound this past week, it also makes it more likely that Liriano will break camp with the team. Meanwhile, even though Boof Bonser struggled today, I think he remains solidly in line to be the #4 starter this season.

Relief Pitchers: With Jose Morales having been optioned out of camp, it makes it more likely that the Twins will carry 12 pitchers when they head north. Carmen Cali remains in control of that spot, but I expect Glen Perkins to make a strong bid for the position down the stretch, especially if the other starter candidates (like Blackburn) continue to put themselves in position to win a starting spot, thus crowding Perkins out of that race.

Infielders: Nick Punto is 1-for-11 and Brendan Harris is 4-for-17 so far this spring -- not exactly a rousing offensive battle for the position. I think that Punto wins a tie between these two because of his defense, and so far I would say that neither has stood out enough to grab the advantage -- making Punto the winner by default to this point. The other open spot is the second backup infielder position, with Brian Buscher leading that race for the second consecutive week. Meanwhile, dark horse Randy Ruiz continues to make a case for a roster spot, as he's now hitting .471 on the spring and showing off some power (with 2 homers and a double). I'm going to keep mentioning him, even though it's unlikely that he could win a spot.

Outfielders: Carlos Gomez seems destined to win the starting center field spot, which is what most of us thought was going to happen when the spring started. Yes, there will be some issues if he's asked to play a full major league season -- but it would also be very exciting. Meanwhile, Craig Monroe is hitting well after returning to the lineup and seems to be well on the way to securing the spot as the teams backup outfielder. Interestingly, Jon Knott has been reasonably impressive to this point, showing some pop in his bat that I, for one, didn't really expect to see. I don't think he has a shot (he's even less likely than Randy Ruiz, in my mind), but maybe he'll play well enough to make things interesting for Monroe.

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13 Comments:

  • At Sun Mar 09, 05:52:00 PM , Blogger neckrolls said...

    I didn't expect Blackburn to do this well, either. I'd hate to see Slowey lose it, but it looks like the team would be in good hands if he does.

    I don't think Gomez should get special treatment just because he's the center of the Santana trade. He's completely undisciplined in every facet of his game except base stealing. For every good play he makes, there's a bone-head play to go with it. I'm a little surprised to say it, but Span looks like the best leadoff/CF at this point. He's done a great job of working counts in most every plate appearance, and he's made all the plays in the outfield so far. He doesn't have the ceiling that Gomez has, certainly, but he looks more ready to play major-league baseball right now. Gomez can come up in a few months when he learns how to hit. And hit the cutoff man.

     
  • At Sun Mar 09, 07:23:00 PM , Blogger ppearson50 said...

    I think Ruiz needs to make this team as a pinch hitter with the Spring he is having. Unless Buscher starts to show a litle more, it would be hard to keep Ruiz, who is hitting almost .500 with power this spring, off the team.

     
  • At Sun Mar 09, 07:35:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    I've been on the Ruiz bandwagon all spring, finding his career minor league numbers interesting. I didn't expect him to have any chance, but he really is having a very good spring, and has played his way into the conversation.

    The one caution I would have is that even a great spring doesn't guarantee a marginal player anything. Remember Mike Venafro last spring? He had a great spring, but got no love from the coaches and was sent to Rochester, and eventually ended up in the Blue Jays organization. The team will evaluate the total package that Ruiz brings, and even if he hits .750 for the spring, he'll only make the team if they think he fits into the teams' plans. I think that's an uphill battle, but I will be rooting for him anyway because I find him an interesting player.

     
  • At Sun Mar 09, 08:50:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    One other big caution. It is still very early in spring training. The competition includes a lot of players who will not be on a major league roster at all this year, much less on opening day. Its the last couple weeks in March when the real competition happens.

     
  • At Mon Mar 10, 08:03:00 AM , Blogger Paul said...

    Did you completely miss Perkins last performance? He is in the rotation!! Anderson starting talking about how the pitching might be ok right after Perkins outing.

     
  • At Mon Mar 10, 09:20:00 AM , Blogger JST said...

    Paul,

    I appreciate your enthusiasm for Perkins, but one performance isn't going to get anybody into (or out of) the rotation. I still think Slowey will win the job, and if he doesn't I think it will go to Blackburn. Perkins seems more likely to me to start the season as the 12th pitcher on the team -- a position I have Cali in right now. It is entirely possible that Perkins will win a roster spot (that's why I'm still listing him under the starters rather than the relievers), but I most definitely do not think he's won that spot just yet.

     
  • At Mon Mar 10, 10:57:00 AM , Blogger Paul said...

    jst, Liriano won't be in the rotation, both Blackburn and Perkins will. Liriano is a basket case, he says he is 'afraid to throw'?? Extended Spring or bullpen for Francisco. Perk is in. Lefties like him always perform better than expected, i.e. Buerhle, Viola. I think he throws harder than both of those two. How can Perk be worse than Nate Robertson? The key with with Perks last outing was the strikeouts, he can sneak it past people. I still say, if he stays healthy he is in the rotation.

     
  • At Mon Mar 10, 11:16:00 AM , Blogger JST said...

    Paul,

    Your take on Liriano is interesting (and possible), but I disagree. I think Liriano will be fine by the end of Spring, and think that there's better than a 50% chance that he'll make the team immediately out of camp. However, you'll note on the original post that I don't have him in bold (meaning he's not a lock), so your scenario is certainly not out of the question.

     
  • At Mon Mar 10, 11:33:00 AM , Blogger Paul said...

    jst, Maybe I don't understand your system of colors and italics well enough. What jumped out at me was Cali ahead of Perkins. I just don't see that. The Francisco thing kind of concerns me based on what he has been saying to the press.

     
  • At Mon Mar 10, 11:44:00 AM , Blogger JST said...

    Paul,

    I think you understand what I'm saying, because nothing you've said suggests to me that you are misunderstanding what I'm saying -- I was just clarifying that I don't think Liriano is a lock, but that he is the most likely to win his position.

    As for the Cali/Perkins debate, I still have Cali listed because Perkins has available options and the Twins may want to continue grooming him as a starter in AAA rather than keeping him in the bullpen. Cali has pitched reasonably well this spring, and would have to clear waivers if he were sent to the minors because he's on the 40-man roster and is out of options. All things considered, at this point I'm considering him the front runner for the 12th pitcher slot. That could easily change by next week.

     
  • At Mon Mar 10, 12:52:00 PM , Blogger Lake Country Blogger said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At Mon Mar 10, 12:53:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Don't leave Humber out of the mix for the last rotation spot. Slowey, Perkins, Blackburn and Humber are all going to be given a shot. And, in addition to the question about Liriano, Baker is hurt and Bonser has struggled. Lets hope their aren't openings for all four of them in rotation.

     
  • At Wed Mar 12, 04:09:00 PM , Anonymous TwinsTerritory said...

    Paul, Liriano said just today, and has said it many times before, that his arm feels good.

    There is a very good chance that he make the Opening Day rotation. Not 100%, but better than 60%.

     

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