Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spring Roster Update #4

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.


Starting Pitcher - 1 - Livan Hernandez (+)
Starting Pitcher - 2 - Scott Baker (possible DL candidate) (=)
Starting Pitcher - 3 - Boof Bonser (+)
Starting Pitcher - 4 - Francisco Liriano (-)
Starting Pitcher - 5 - Kevin Slowey (=)
Nick Blackburn (=)
Philip Humber (+)
Brian Bass (+)
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 (=)
Denard Span (+)
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 (=)
Matt Tolbert (+)
Tommy Watkins (+)
Backup Outfielder - 24 - Craig Monroe (=)

Jason Pridie (+)
Jon Knott (+)

Miscellaneous Reserve - 25 - Glen Perkins (+)
Casey Daigle (=)
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

Julio DePaula - optioned to AAA
Bobby Korecky - optioned to AAA
Mariano Gomez - reassigned to minor league camp
Alexi Casilla - optioned to AAA
Matt Macri - optioned to AAA
Chris Basak - reassigned to minor league camp
Howie Clark - reassigned to minor league camp
Carmen Cali - outrighted to AAA
Kevin Mulvey - reassigned to minor league camp

Starting Pitchers: The battle for positions in the rotation remains remarkably tight, and this thing could go in any number of directions at this point. First, a few notes on the guys who I have listed in the top 5 spots (those names, incidentally, haven't changed since I first posted -- although the order has). Livan Hernandez is now being listed in the #1 spot, since the Twins have suggested that they plan on having Livan start on opening night against the Angels. That will more than likely remain the plan, despite Hernandez's absolutely horrid performance this spring (which didn't get any better today). Meanwhile, I removed the bold from Scott Baker's name -- not because he's done anything wrong this spring, but because there's some talk that he might have to start the season on the DL because of his back. I don't think that's going to happen, but there's enough uncertainty to unbold him. Meanwhile, Boof Bonser has done enough to secure a spot and remains a lock. Francisco Liriano may or may not be ready for the season to start, and could end up in Rochester to build up his arm strength and his confidence (although I don't think that's a problem). Meanwhile, Kevin Slowey appears to be coming around, and if he doesn't bobble things again I think he'll make the team.

What about the guys behind those five who are fighting for spots? Well, Kevin Mulvey has now been cut, so that removes one name from the competition -- and with Carmen Cali also gone, I think Glen Perkins is the most logical choice to be the 12th pitcher on the team, giving the Twins a second lefty in the bullpen. That would mean that four guys remain in the competition. Nick Blackburn had been cruising along before his start this week, where he struggled. Nonetheless, he should still be the first guy in if something happens to one of the top 5. Philip Humber has been really, really good this spring, which is why I've slotted him in right behind Blackburn. Bass and Keisler have a much smaller chance to make the team, but I can't disqualify either of them, and both pitched well in their most recent performance. This week is crucial -- the rotation will likely be set by this time next Sunday.

Relief Pitchers: The only drama here all spring has been whether the Twins would carry 12 pitchers. The answer still seems to be yes, but with Carmen Cali gone, Glen Perkins is now the logical choice to fill that spot. Who else could be competing? Well, lefties Randy Keisler and Ricky Barrett are still around, and the Twins could still go with Casey Daigle or one of the guys competing for a spot in the rotation. None seems as likely as Perkins, who has some big league experience out of the 'pen.

Infield: The second base battle remains uncertain, but Alexi Casilla is no longer an option after being cut. I'll say it again -- if neither Punto nor Harris impresses, Punto wins the job. However, there is at least the possibility that the team will essentially continue the battle into the start of the season, maybe even with a platoon type system where Harris plays against lefties and Punto against righties. We'll see how they go with this thing, but I think Punto is going to get the first shot to fail in real games. Meanwhile, a whole host of potential backup infielders were cut this week, leaving Brian Buscher in pretty good shape. The Twins now have an open roster spot if they want to carry Randy Ruiz, but Buscher's versatility remains an advantage for him, despite his recent struggles. Matt Tolbert also remains in camp, but I'm not sure what he adds at this point.

Outfield: Craig Monroe will make the team -- I don't think there's any longer any question about that. More than likely, he'll be in a backup role, but the possibility remains (as Pat Reusse pointed out) that he could be used in CF if none of the Twins main (and young) options wins the job. Either way, Monroe will be wearing a Twins uniform, which is somewhat surprising to me -- he's really done well this spring. With Jason Kubel as the DH, the Twins don't really need to carry another outfielder. If they decide to go with just 11 pitchers, however, a guy like Garrett Jones could still make the club.

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