Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spots "Locked Down"

We have reached a point in the season, a little over a week from opening day, where impatient beat writers start setting the roster. They talk about about how guys competing have "locked down" a spot on the roster. But, in fact, no spot on the roster is a "lock" until Gardenhire (and Terry Ryan) decide it is. And they have another week to watch players before making that decision. The beat writers and many fans, including me, had Ben Revere set as the left fielder before spring training started. Now, Gardenhire apparently has decided to go in a different direction.

The same thing may, or may not, happen with the bullpen and bench spots over the next week. I have ranked the chances I think different players have for the bullpen and the bench. Some players are clearly "locks". They went into spring training as locks, like the veterans on the team, or they had spots set aside for them to lose only by severely under-performing this spring, like Plouffe and Swarzak.

But, for players in legitimate competition, there is still a week to go. Gardenhire is going to give a lot of weight to how they do this last week against better competition. That is particularly true for the bullpen guys. Reports have Burton and Maloney having broken away from the pack for two of the last three bullpen spots. But we have had those kinds of reports at this time of the year in the past and then the last week happened. Until we hear a player has won a spot from Gardenhire, we ought to have at least a bit of uncertainty. Because its likely Gardenhire still has some uncertainty and he still has a week of games to watch before he has to make final decisions.

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