Thursday, March 31, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
For those too young or too old to remember, Tonya Harding was famous for her figure skating. She became infamous for having her chief rival knee-capped just before the world championships. *
So Luke Hughes has lost the competition for utility spot despite hitting almost as many home runs this spring as the rest of his teammates combined. Imagine him responding to that announcement by Gardy. "So, who do I need to kneecap to get to the major leagues?"
Here is the answer in descending order of preference:
1) Jason Kubel
Hughes best position is hitting. Kubel getting hurt would allow Hughes to share DH at bats with Jim Thome. Since they are being cautious with Thome's work load, this would probably give Hughes is largest role.
2) Cuddyer or Young
This is the equivalent of Kubel getting hurt, since Kubel would likely move to a corner outfield spot if either of these two are injured.
With Thome hurt Hughes could share the DH spot with Kubel. But I think he would have fewer at bats than he would if he shared it with Thome.
Hughes can play third base and his bat may play there as well. By contrast, if you stick Tolbert at third you lose a lot of offense at what is, on balance, an offense oriented position.
Its possible if Nishioka were hurt that Hughes would take his place. But it is not a lock. Its also possible they would call up a better defensive replacement or use Tolbert.
Its possible if Tolbert was hurt that Hughes would have his spot. But its also possible that he wouldn't for the same reasons he didn't win it in the first place. A utility player with some speed who can play all the infield positions well is more valuable than another bat on the bench.
He is last on the list because a quality shortstop lik Plouffe is almost certain to be called up to play shortstop every day if Casilla is hurt. Hes on the list because there is an outside chance they would move Nishioka over to shortstop.
Obviously, Hughes isn't going to knee-cap anyone. Still, if I were one of these guys I would be very careful around Hughes when he has a bat in his hand toward the end of spring training.
*And you thought figure skating was a sissy sport! The fact is skating sports of all kinds include a lot of hard knocks when you fall down. As professional hockey demonstrates, its just a short step to inflicting bruises in other ways.
*Just to be entirely accurate, I don't think it was ever proven Harding actually directed the assault.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
Optioned from major league roster: (guesses)
Comment: Beresford and Holliman were shown as on the 40 player league roster on the Twins site and seemed like obvious candidates to be sent down. That is wrong, they have 42 players listed. Beresford and Holliman are already in the minor league camp, but they did get a couple of appearances in spring training games as extra players.
Manship apparently is seen as a bullpen guy at Rochester rather than a starter. He is a long shot to make the cut for the major league bullpen, but he is still alive.
Tosoni is a bit of a surprise. He apparently is not one of the first guys they are going to look at if an opening occurs on the big league club.
Benson, Parmelee and Guerra were all sent to AA. That isn't totally unexpected, but it may be an indication that they are still a couple years away from the big leagues. It may also just be a question of where there is roster space on minor league clubs.
Reassigned to minors: (guesses)
Comment: Apparently they want to see more of Danny Rams. Bazardo was projected as as a AAA starter, so his inclusion here is not a huge surprise. Bailey is apparently ahead of Huber on the depth chart.
I am sure to be wrong about a bunch of those. There are other candidates, Bazardo, James and Waldrop are all possibilities, as are Brown, Lambin and Huber. I think Benson is a possibility and Slama, although I don't think they will send him out hurt.
Comment: They sent out most of their minor league outfielders. I think Dinkelman and Revere are the only guys left not expected to be on the opening day roster. That may be a sign the Cuddyer is just about ready.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Is there really a battle for the utility position between Matt Tolbert, Trevor Plouffe and Luke Hughes? Probably not. Hughes can hit like Babe Ruth, but its still hard to imagine Gardy going with Nishioka as his only backup option at shortstop. Plouffe has as much chance at taking the starting shortstop position away from Casilla as he does the utility spot from Tolbert. In either case, he would need an outstanding spring training while his competition showed fatal flaws. Tolbert is the utility guy barring injuries.
There is some mild interest in the battle for the 5th starter position. There was an attempt by some in the media to put Gibson in that mix, but that has fallen flat. Everyone is excited by Gibson, no one thinks he is going to be on the roster to start the season. Whether he gets a callup will depend on his performance in Rochester and injuries/failures among the Twins starters. It is hard to get very excited about a competition between Slowey and Baker. Neither is an ace in the making and either is likely to be a solid starter. The loser of that competition will be in the Twins bullpen. Likely in a long reliever role.
Which brings us to the only interesting thing happening. There are four bullpen spots pretty much set. Nathan, Capps, Mijares and Slowey/Baker. It looks likely that Perkins is going to be in the mix as well barring a meltdown later in spring training. That leaves a bunch of guys competing for the 6th and 7th spots in the bullpen. A tough battle for mopup roles! HooHah, is that exciting or what!?
Of course Nathan, Morneau, Mauer, Cuddyer and Young's health have created a few stories. But most of those questions appear to be answered. There has been some effort at creating suspense over when Mauer will actually be ready to catch. But those appear to be media inspired as well with Mauer and Gardy insisting he is going to be ready for opening day. Morneau' concussion is really the only legitimate concern and even that seems to be disappearing.
Of course there is the curse "May you live in interesting times." Boring means things are going according to the off-season plan. Most of the questions that heated up the hot stove seem to be answered.
For now, opening day is still a couple weeks away. We are just going to have to wait 'til then for any meaningful news.