Spring Training Roundup
1.) With Livan Hernandez and Boof Bonser locked into the rotation, all attention has turned to the other three spots. While I'll be posting more specific thoughts on this tomorrow in my roster update, for now I'll just say that Kevin Slowey has likely nailed a spot down as well. The real questions surround Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker, who both will be on the roster if they're healthy enough to contribute. I'm more comfortable with Baker right now than I am with Liriano, although I still think there's a better than 50% chance that both start the season in the rotation. Today, Nick Blackburn yet again made a solid argument for being the first alternate, with Philip Humber and Brian Bass right behind. Glen Perkins' mediocre spring continued, as he gave up four more hits (including 2 runs, 3 earned) in an inning of work. I strongly suspect that, in light of the solid performances by the other competitors, Perkins has been removed from consideration for a spot in the rotation.
2.) With yesterday's cuts of Randy Keisler and Ricky Barrett, Perkins seemed to be in a good position to get the last spot in the bullpen. However, there seems to be a lot of sentiment towards keeping Brian Bass on the team in that spot so as not to lose him; Bass is out of options and has had an excellent spring, so he'd probably end up being claimed off of waivers if he were cut from camp. While I was originally in favor of carrying a second lefty in the bullpen, I have to admit that I wasn't dazzled by any of the lefties that the team had in camp. With all of the youth that's going to be in the rotation, a 12 man pitching staff is probably a necessity, however. In that case, why not carry a guy like Bass who can give you a bunch of innings if necessary? He may not be a lefty, but he's pitched well and by keeping him on the roster you avoid losing him. I'd be somewhat surprised at this point if Bass didn't win this job.
3.) La Velle Neal of the Star Tribune suggests today that Matt Tolbert may be the leader in the battle for the second backup infielder position, thanks largely to the implosion of Brian Buscher. I really can't argue with his logic; Tolbert has played reasonably well, while Buscher has suffered through a wicked slump of late (at least he got a hit today). Meanwhile, someone (can't remember who) pointed out the other day that there doesn't seem to be a lot of reason to carry two left-handed hitting third basemen on the team (starter Mike Lamb is the other lefty), and I have to agree with that logic as well. While I have viewed Tolbert as nothing more than a longshot all spring, I have to acknowledge now that keeping him on the team might make sense. Of course, the question of playing time for a guy like Tolbert might be an issue -- and that's why I'm still not convinced that he's going to make the squad.
4.) Incidentally, Brendan Harris might have taken a step towards winning the job as the starting second baseman today by going 3-for-4. I say "might" because honestly, he's not exactly had a great spring, and one game doesn't change that. With Nick Punto having an equally horrid spring to this point, however, a few good at-bats might be all it takes to win Harris the job. Of course, as I mentioned a few days ago, a platoon situation has to still be considered a strong possibility as well.
5.) Carlos Gomez went 2-for-4 with a double, 2 K's, and yet another stolen base today. Denard Span got a hit in his only at-bat after replacing Gomez. Honestly, I've been really impressed with Span's play this spring -- but this job has to go to Gomez, doesn't it? It just seems to me that, despite his youth and propensity to make some big mistakes, he also has the potential to be a difference maker on the team even this year. I think Span would make fewer mistakes, but also would be nowhere near as spectacular overall. Honestly, I'm fine with whatever choice the Twins make -- I don't doubt that Gomez could benefit from some more seasoning in AAA -- but if I were making this decision, I'd almost certainly go with Gomez.