Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hicks, Mastroianni AND Benson?

I did a story about Brian Dinkelman that explained how he might make the major league roster. That is an extreme longshot, but I think its helpful to think through the question of how player's specific abilities may push them ahead of better overall players. In Dinkelman's case that is his ability to play both the infield and outfield.

So the question here is why might the Twins include all three of the players competing for the center field position on their opening day roster. The starting point for this is that Hicks has  to win the center field competition. If he doesn't, it is very unlikely Terry Ryan will let Gardenhire keep him on the major league bench. He needs to play every day.

Mastroianni is virtually guaranteed the fourth outfield spot if he doesn't win the starting center field position. He can play all three outfield positions, he is a great base runner and he hits enough to play every day for a stretch if needed. He is probably better suited to be the 4th outfielder than he is to start in center field.

Keeping Benson as a fifth outfielder is a lot more dicey. The real problem for Benson offensively is that he strikes out a lot and his batting average is not all that great. His strengths are his power and he has drawn a fair number of walks in the minor leagues, so his on-base-percentage has been better than his batting average might indicate.  However, Benson is also still only 25 years old, so he might be better off playing every day in the minor leagues and refining his hitting skills.

There are reports that Gardenhire wants some "pop" on the bench. If Benson shows he will make enough contact to use his power, he would give Gardy that. He also can play all three outfield positions with plus range and arm. And a late inning defense with Mastroianni and Benson replacing Willingham and Parmelee would give the Twins three center fielders in their outfield.

Its an unlikely choice. But its not an impossible one. Even with a third catcher, the Twins still have room for an extra infielder or extra outfielder.  If they decide to carry five outfielders its possible Hicks, Mastroianni and Benson will all be around for opening day.

Competition Update after Wednesday's Game

Infield Competition
Florimon and Escobar split shortstop dutie. Florimon went 0-3 and Escobat 0-2, but Florimon did turn an outfield error into three bases and scored a run as a result. Sobolewski went 0-1 as a backup at third base and Olmedo went 1-2 as the backup to Carroll at second base.

Outfield Competition
Hicks was the only center field candidate who played. He went 2-3, including a double, and drove in two runs. Boggs replaced him and went 0-2 with a walk and scored a run. Ramirez went 2-2, scored twice and drove in a run as the backup in left field. Dinkelman went 0-2 as the backup in right.

Correa started and struggled a bit going 2.1 innings. Walters was the only other rotation guy. He pitched an inning, walking one and striking out one.

Duensing, Burton and Perkins pitched 3.2 innings combined. Caleb Thielbar struck out the side in the ninth. Minor league pitcher Andrew Albers aslo pitched an inning, he is preparing to pitch in the WBC.


Hicks continued to hit. He probably already has the inside track in center field and if his offense continues to hold up it will be hard for Benson or Mastroianni to displace him. Ramirez helped himself if the Twins decide to carry five outfielders. Olmedo continues to play all over the field and is in competition for a utility spot in the infield.   Thielbar moved himself up on the reliever list. He is a lefty and would be competing with Robertson for a third lefty spot in the bullpen. Walters may be considered in the bullpen and he made that more likely.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Kevin Correa - The Genius of Terry Ryan

Kevin Correa is getting his second spring training start today. He is the only clearly healthy major league starter the Twins have. All the other likely members of the Twins rotation have questions about their health or whether they can pitch in the big leagues.

Worley, Diamond and  Pelfrey are all coming off arm surgery. Worley seems to be completely recovered.  Pelfrey says he is, but may not be. We won't really know until he is stretched out. In addition, the Twins have three other rotation candidates who are recovering from injuries Gibson, Harden and Perez. You can add Swarzak to that list, after his rib injuries. The remaining starters from last year, Hendriks, DeVries, Deduno and Walters, are all questionable. They are more stop gaps to fill holes, rather than part of any plan for the rotation.

If you look at the likely rotation candidates, Worley, Diamond and Gibson are the only pitchers, in addition to Correa, who will be under contract to the Twins next year. So if all four stay healthy and productive, the Twins will still need at least one more starting pitcher. In addition to the four guys above, Hernandez and Hermsen will likely be the other members of the rotation at AAA this year with shots as a 6th starter when needed. Unless they develop, the Twins are unlikely to want to rely on any of them to fill out the rotation next year.

Of course, there are young prospects like May and Meyer that may be ready to compete for a rotation spot next spring. But neither one is expected to start this season above AA. They aren't likely, much less certain, to be ready to take on a spot in the major league rotation first thing next spring.

And that is what makes Terry Ryan a genius at baseball roster construction "chess".  He signed Correa to two years, giving the Twins one reliable starter. That positions him to let young pitchers and reclamation projects compete to fill out the rotation. Of course, nothing is guaranteed. Correia may get hurt or self-destruct. But he may be the only Twins starter the next couple years whose current track record doesn't make that somewhat likely.

Update: I left Liam Hendriks off the list of starters from last year and he is probably the most likely of that group to actually have majorl league success.

Rotation Update - First Time Through

All the Twins starters now have one appearance under their belts. Obviously we don't learn a lot from one two inning outing. But there are some things that have changed.

Pelfrey got hit hard in his start and his velocity was down. That  my not be meaningful, but given that he is coming back early from Tommy John surgery, its also not reassuring.

Harden is not on a regular pitching schedule. Neither is Perez. It seems unlikely they will be ready for opening day and almost certainly not as starters.

Gibson had a good outing and looked like he may be ready to start the year in the rotation. Again, there are a lot more games to go. Hendricks also had a decent outing.

Diamond is not pitching yet and probably won't be ready opening day. The Twins won't need a fifth starter for the first time until a week later, so its possible he will still fit into the rotation.

Worley and Correa did fine in their first starts.

DeVries and Deduno only got one inning in their first outings. That may indicate they are not serious rotation candidates.

Walters had a good outing in an intrasquad game, he has yet to pitch in a regular spring training game. Same with Hermsen, Myer and May.

Here is a revised pecking order:

Competition Update after Tuesday's Game

Infield Competition
Dozier did the most to help himself  Tuesday, going 1-2 with a walk in 3 at bats.  Florimon was 0-3. Sobolewski went 0-2 with a strikeout. Rosario added to the excitement about his future by going 2-2 with a 2 run homer.

Outfield Competition
Hicks was in center, Masttroianni in left and Benson in right to start the game. Hicks went 2-4 with a double. Benson went 1-4 with a home run, a walk and 3 strike outs. Mastroianni went 1-4, but he got caught for the third out trying to steal third with Morneau at the plate. Thomas went 0-1 and Dinkelman drew a walk in one plate appearance as backups

Pop off the Bench
Colabello went 0-3 as the DH and, as mentioned above, Sobolewksi went 0-2. Clement went 0-1 after replacing Morneau at first.

Pelfrey struggled with volocity in the 80's. He said that has not been unusual for him at the start of spring training.

Wood pitched two innings and gave up 2 hits and a walk. He got out of his second inning on a double play. Robertson gave up 2 hits including a solo home run. Pressly, who finished off the second inning for Pelfry and then pitched the third, remained perfect. Roenicke, Tonkin and Perdomo all pitched on perfect inning

Hicks got his first hits of the spring, so that was as step forward. Benson showed his all or nothing character with a home run, walk and three strikeouts. I'm not sure that really helped him, although it helped win the game. Mastroianni's base running faux pas probably doesn't matter unless it becomes a pattern. 

The infield was mostly a non-event. Doziers hit and walk was a plus, Florimon's 0-3 was a negative.

Pressly is doing what he needs to do early as a rule 5 guy.  He has the coaches attention.  Robertson had another rough outing. Roenicke had a good outing after struggling his first time out.  Wood went a couple innings and got himself out of a jam. Perdomo pitched well, got a strikeout and didn't walk anyone. If he stays away from walks a few more times, he will move up the ladder for consideration.  Tonkin did well in his first spring training appearance. He's a hard thrower, but likely to start the year at AA or AAA.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Can Brian Dinkelman win a Roster Spot?

One player that I haven't really included in any of the competition updates is Brian Dinkelman. Dinkelman, taken in the 2006 draft,  is a long time Twin prospect who was on the major league roster for a while a couple years ago. He's a player with limited skills that seem to condemn him to AAAA status. But he has some things going for him that fit this year's team.

One of his problems is that he lacks a clear defensive position. He played second base or the corner outfield spots when he was with the Twins in 2011. He has played both shortstop and third base in the minor leagues, although he is not really suited to either.   In other words, he is a flexible defensive player who can play a lot of places as a fill in, but lacks a real position.

At AAA, his upside has been a .265 hitter without much power with a .380 SLG, although he knows how to take a walk and has a .336 OBP as a result. In other words, he takes good at bats as they like to say.

There is a discussion of the Twins adding a bench bat over at  Baseball Outsider. Its mostly focused on the rumors connecting the Twins to Jim Thome and pointing out why he is a bad fit for the Twins. Dinkelman shares one of those problems, he is a left handed hitter. But he is someone who can play a lot of positions and provide a bat off the bench. He would need to show some continued improvement and open eyes in spring training. Even at that he is an extreme longshot as the 25th player. But we may see him this summer if he picks things up at AAA.

Tuesday's Bullpen Compeition

There are eight pitchers scheduled to travel with the Twins up to Dunedin today. Pelfrey, Pressly, Roenicke, Wood, Slama, Perdomo and Tonkin.

Pelfrey is getting his first start. Except for Tonkin, all the relievers have worked an inning in one of the previous three games.

Unless Pelfrey goes more than two innings, its likely the Twins will have at least one of the relievers extend to two innings. Pressly, Wood and Perdomo all pitched scoreless innings in their last outing. Roeniecke gave up  run on two hits and a walk in an inning. Slama was the only one not to complete a full inning, being lifted after giving up 2 hits, 2 walk and 3 runs (1 earned) while getting 2 outs.

Pressly, picked up in the rule 5 draft in December is perhaps the most interesting candidate. He pitched a perfect inning last time out.

Competition Update after Monday's Game

Infield Competition
In the infield competition, Olmedo got a start at shortstop and went 1-2 He also reportedly made a nice play in the field.  Escobar replaced him and went 0-1. Dozier was at second and went 1-2 while driving in a run. Carroll (1-3) started at third with Sobolewski (0-1) replacing him.

Outfield Competition
Benson got his first start in center field and went 0-3 with a strikeout. Mastroianni replaced him and went 0-1. Ramirez went 1-2 as the starter in right field and Boggs went 1-1 in left after replacing Winningham.

Pop off the Bench
Colabello went 1-2 and drove in the winning run. Clement went 0-1. Both came in as reserves.

Worley was the only pitcher to go more than one inning. DeVries pitched late in the game, after Deduno and Vasquez and before Hernandez. They all gave up at least one hit and Vasquez gave up a home run.

Burnett, Fien and Augustine each pitched an inning and gave up 2 hits and a run.


Olmedo's start at shortstop may move him up as a candidate for the utility infielder spot. Dozier helped himself by getting a key hit. Ramirez and Boggs both are trying to make their case as extra outfielders. Colabello continued to hit and is ahead of Clement for a bench bat spot, if one exists.

In the bullpen competition, Augustine may not get many more chances and he didn't take this one. Burnett and Fien didn't shine either, but both will likely be around until the end of spring training with a lot more opportunities. The late, one inning, appearance by DeVries may indicate the Twins don't think he is a serious candidate for a rotation spot. That was likely already true of Vasquez and Hernandez.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Today's Bullpen Competition - Monday

There are nine pitchers scheduled to pitch today. Worley is starting, but there are four other starters on the list. Those include DeVries, Deduno, Vazquez and Hernandez. Burnett, Fien, Guerra, Tonkin and Augenstein are the bullpen candidates scheduled to pitch.

As the home team, the Twins will need at least nine innings from their pitchers. Worley will take two innings. That leaves 7 innings to be divided among 9 pitchers. At least one of those 9 will be held in reserve for the 10th inning if the game goes into extra innings. But, if they give another starter 2 innings, they can't fit an inning for all the rest.

Burnett and Fien are certain to get one inning each. Deduno and DeVries should also get at least one inning, although DeVries may get two. Guerra, Vasquez, Hernandez, Tonkin and Augenstein will take the other 2 or 3 innings. Hernandez came to the Twins in the Liriano trade, so this would be the first time the major league staff has seen him in a game situation. All five are likely slotted for minor league rosters. Tonkin is a hard throwing minor league prospect who could get a chance in the Twins bullpen later this year if he shows well this spring.

The Twins have a lot of pitchers in camp and its clear finding game opportunities for all of them is a challenge. That challenge will get greater for bullpen candidates as the starters get stretched out and pitch more innings in each game.

Top Prospect Lists "All a bunch of crap?"

"All a bunch of crap." That is what Philadelphia Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro says when asked about recent prospect rankings that are devoid of Philllies prospects. Of course he wouldn't say that if he had a bunch of prospects on those lists. But is he right anyway?

Of course for sportswriters and fans who follow a teams prospects, these lists aren't crap at all. We are thrilled for our team's future when it has a bunch of young players recognized as among the best in baseball by whoever makes the list. Fans spend hours arguing over who is the better prospect and ranking their own teams prospects.

The problem is we often can't even agree after the fact on who the better player was 20 years after their careers end. Yet here we are arguing over whether some teenager who just finished high school will have a better career than a guy who is 25 already trying to earn a spot in the big leagues. In that sense, these lists clearly are "all a bunch of crap."

There is another level, however, where these lists lead us to seriously misunderstanding of the game. To the players and to the team, it doesn't matter at all - they can all be successful or all unsuccessful.  They aren't really in competition with one another. They are only "competing" with themselves to be as good as possible. Of course, once they get to the major leagues they will compete for jobs based on how good they are. But if they are good enough, they will have a job.

Bullpen Competition Weekend Update - Monday 2/25/2013

Roenicke struggled a bit in his outing on Saturday. Wood pitched well. So did Pressly, although it didn't sound like he showed the mid-90's velocity it was rumored he had in the AFL last fall. Robertson struggled, even walking a left handed batter.

Martis is preparing for the World Classic, so he was stretched out to two innings. He gave up a run in his second inning and got out of it on a double play.

On Sunday, Perkin, Burton and Duensing all pitched. Duensing gave up some runs, but that probably isn't meaningful. They were followed by Perdomo, Slama and Guerra. Perdomo helped himself by pitching a 1-2-3 inning, with two strikeouts and. most importantly, no walks.

Slama got hit and lasted less than an inning giving up 2 hits and 2 walks. Guerra replaced Slama, walked a batter and then got the final out. He pitched one more inning, giving up 3 runs, including a 2 run home run. They are both longshots to begin with and, obviously, neither one helped their cause.

Competition Update - Sunday 2/24/2013 Game Results

Infield Competition
In the infield competition, Carroll started at second and Florimon at shortstop. Olmedo started at third base and went 0-2. Beresford replaced Olmedo at third base and Santana replaced Florimon at shortstop.

Outfield Competition
Hicks started in center field and leading off. He went 0-3. Boggs replaced him and hit a three run home run in three at bats.  Parmelee went 1-2 in right field. Thomas, in competition as an extra outfielder, went 0-3 after replacing Parmelee in right. Mastroianni came into the game as a PR, stole a base and scored.

Pop off the Bench
Colabello replaced Morneau at first and went 2-2, with 2 singles and an RBI. Clement started at DH and went 0-1, with a walk and a strikeout for the second straight day. Ramirez went 0-3 with an RBI after replacing Willingham.

Florimon helped his case for shortstop by showing he could get on base. Olmedo didn't do much with his chance. Hicks 0-3 day didn't add any reassurance that he is ready to hit major league pitching.  Boggs helped himself a little as an extra outfielder, while Thomas and Ramirez didn't do anything to help their chances. None of the guys competing for spots as "pop off the bench" helped themselves.

There was also an intersquad game where almost every player not in the game yesterday played on one of the two teams. They used two DH's in each team to get everyone at bats. I am not going to try to evaluate the meaning of those.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Today's Bullpen Competition

There are seven relievers scheduled to pitch today. Hendriks is starting and Gibson is the second starter. They will likely each get a couple innings. That leaves 5 innings for the relievers. Perkins, Burton and Duensing will each pitch one inning. Those guys are set to be part of the roster. That leaves 2 innings for the relievers in competition for a spot.

Competition Update - Saturday's Game

Infield Competition

In the infield competition, Dozier started at second and Florimon at shortstop. Each went 0-2 in two plate appearances.  Escobar started at third base and went 2 for 3. Sobolewski replaced Escobar and went 0-2.

Outfield Competition

Mastroianni started in center field and leading off. He went 1-3. Thomas replaced him and went 2-2 with an RBI. Parmelee went 0-2 in right field.

Pop off the Bench

Colabello started the game at first and went 0-3. Clement replaced him and went 0-1 with a walk and a strikeout. As mentioned above, Sobolewski went 0-2.


In the battle for bench spots, Thomas helped himself. He has a shot at the 4th outfield spot if Mastroianni is the starter in center field. None of the guys competing for spots as "pop off the bench" helped themselves. Escobar probably helped himself a little bit in the infield competition by showing some bat. Of course, its just one game.  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Today's bullpen - Saturday 2/23/2013

There are seven bullpen pitchers who will be travelling with the team today, Ryan Pressly, Josh Roenicke, Tim Wood, Tyler Robertson , Anthony Slama, Luis Perdomo, and Bryan Augenstein.

Rotation Competition - Updated 2/23/2013

2/21/2013 Here is how the competition for the rotation starts out. If they are healthy, the first four are pretty well set. Who the leader is for the 5th spot is anyone's guess. It is wide open with the outcome depending how people pitch in spring training. I will update this ranking as spring training continues.

2/23/2013 The Twins are going to use two of these guys today in their spring training opener. Correia is the starter. The other starter on the list of pitchers travelling to Sarasota is Martis who is getting ready to pitch in the World Classic.  On Sunday, Hendriks will start and Gibson is on the list of pitchers. The plan apparently is for the starters to go a couple innings in both games.

Watching Spring Training - Competition Starts Today

The competition for roster spots starts heating up today with the Twins first spring training day. Here are some basic pointers of what to watch for.

Established Veterans

There are a number of veteran players who aren't competing for a spot on the roster. They are just getting themselves ready for opening day. During the first couple weeks of spring training that may mean working on some part of their game, but mostly it just means shaking the rust off and getting in game shape.

Mauer, Doumit, Morneau, Carroll, Plouffe and Willingham fit this description. They are all locks to make the roster. Plouffe was supposed to have competition at third base, but it does not appear that is the case any more. Carroll is in a sort of competition for an everyday position, but it depends less on what he does than on whether the young players competing for second and shortstop are ready to play in the big leagues. Perkins and Burton roles are set in the bullpen. Duensing, Burnett and Swarzak are probably set as well, but they are in competition for what roles they will play.  Worley, Pelfrey, Diamond and Correia are set in the rotation, assuming they are healthy. Whether these players have good games or bad games in spring training won't effect their places on opening day. The competition is really for the other 8 roster spots and to some extent which roles some of those veterans will have.

Its How you finish, not how you start, that matters

For players competing for positions the most important time is the last couple weeks before opening day. That's because, during the first couple weeks of games in spring training the level of competition is much lower. Veterans aren't in game shape yet. There are a lot of young players who will be assigned to AA and even A ball who are still in camp. So no matter how impressive a player is early against weak competition, the real tests will come in the last couple weeks. Almost every year someone looks like a lock to be on the roster and then falls apart in the last week as rosters are narrowed, players are sharp and the competition starts to be major league quality. This is one of the reasons that spring training statistics are basically pretty meaningless. So the real competition starts in mid-March, after the minor league camp has opened and spring training rosters shrink.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bullpen Competition Update

The Twins are likely to carry seven relievers. Perkins and Burton are set. Duensing might be given a brief look for the rotation again, but will probably end up in the bullpen. Burnett is in the bullpen unless he pitches his way out of it. Swarzak probably has a job if he is healthy and ready to go opening day.  That leaves two spots with a bunch of pitchers competing for them.

The players with and "S" are at least nominally in the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation. With perhaps the exception of Harden, none of them are very likely to end up there.

The groups are ranked by how likely they are to be in the bullpen. They are also ranked within each group, but those rankings will change from day to day as spring training competition proceeds. I will update this ranking as spring training progresses and we see how people perform.

Outfield Competition Update

Josh Willingham is set as the Twins left fielder. There is competition for center field and right field. In addition, the Twins will carry at least one additional player who can play center field as a fourth outfielder. Here is how the competition looks for each of those, the second group in each competition are longshots at best. Bold players are assured of roster spots, but not as starters.

Pop off the Bench

There is a report the Ron Gardenhire would like to have some "pop off the bench" this year. So who are some of the players in camp who might win a spot and provide some power as bench players? Here are the possibilities in approximate order of how likely they are to make the team:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Infield Competition Update

The Twins are likely to carry five infielders. Morneau is set at first base and Gardenhire has apparently abandoned any idea of competition at third by making Plouffe his third baseman. So the competition is really for three spots in the middle infield, second base, shortstop and utility infielder.

Because Carroll can play all three infield positions, it isn't necessarily essential that the utility infielder play shortstop if Carroll is the starting second baseman.  Its also possible the Twins would carry a sixth infielder, which would give guys who do not profile as shortstops a better chance at making the roster.

I will  update this list as spring training progresses.

Morneau (1b)
Carroll (2b, ss, 3b)
Plouffe (3b)

Florimon (ss)
Dozier (2b, ss)
Escobar (2b,ss,3b)

Olmedo (2b, ss, 3b)
Sobolewski (3b)
Romero (3b)
Clement (1b)
Beresford (2b, ss)
Colabello (1b)

Santana (ss)

Rotation Competition Update

Here is how the competition for the rotation starts out. If they are healthy, the first four are pretty well set. Who the leader is for the 5th spot is anyone's guess. It is wide open with the outcome depending how people pitch in spring training. I will update this ranking as spring training continues.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bullpen Competition

The Twins bullpen was one of its strengths last year. But its not clear that will carry over into 2013. Glen Perkins is now set as closer with Jarad Burton as his primary setup guy. Brian Duensing may get a chance at the starting rotation again, but he was tagged as the primary lefty at the end of the game. The addition of Rafael Perez probably makes both of those less likely. Duensing may end up joining Alex Burnett as a middle inning guy. Swarzak may move into that role as well after being the long guy last year. That will depend on what happens once his ribs recover, but its unlikely he is going to get stretched out much before opening day.

If those six guys all end up healthy and in the bullpen, there is likely only one opening. Robertson, Pressly and Fien are on the major league roster. The rest of the candidates are on minor league contracts.

Roenicke, Wood, Robertson, Pressly and Fien are the bullpen candidates on the major league roster. The rest are on minor league contracts.

Robertson is great against lefties, but has struggled against right handed pitching. With three lefties already in the bullpen, he is likely to end up back at AAA, assuming he still has options.

Pressly is a rule 5 guy and will be given every chance to take the last spot. But he has no major league experience and was taken in the Rule 5 draft on the strength of his performance as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League. He will have to impress people this spring to win a job.

Of the other three on the roster,  Roenicke has the most major league experience, but still has only 127 major league appearances. Along with Wood and Fien he will need to beat out the guys signed to minor league contracts.

Harden is an intriguing possibility. He has been dominant as a starter when he stayed healthy. I am sure the Twins would prefer that he take a spot in the rotation, but there is a lot of talk that it might be easier to keep him healthy in the bullpen. If he is healthy and ready to pitch, he would be the favorite for the last bullpen spot if that is where he ends up.

Perdomo, Slama and Augenstein are all guys with minor league success that has not translated to the major leagues. Perdomo's problem has been that he walks too many people, something he showed again in his brief stint with the Twins last year. The Twins seem to be doubtful about Slama's ability to translate his success with minor league hitters to the major league level.  He has a funky delivery that throws minor league players off but major league players may be able to adjust to. Augenstein is the youngest of the three. He mostly started in the minor leagues, but had some success last year after moving to the bullpen.

Martis, Walters and Vasquez are probably destined for AAA, but they might get a chance to take a bullpen spot if they impress in camp. Martis is going to gone from camp for a while pitching in the World Classic so he isn't going to get much opportunity for the Twins manager and coaches to notice him.

Here is the way things look starting out:

Duensing (S)
Swarzak (DL)
Perez (S)

Harden (S)


Martis (S)
Walters (S)
Vasquez (S)

Twins Past and Present on Baseball America Top 100 List

There is a fair amount of excitement about the number of highly rated Twins prospects. Baseball America provides a full listing of their top 100 prospect lists since 1990. Below is a list of the Twins players who made that list each year.  1992 was the last time the Twins had six prospects on that list. Here are those six players:

22. David McCarty, of, Twins
25. Pat Mahomes, rhp, Twins
33. Midre Cummings, of, Twins
68. Willie Banks, rhp, Twins
96. Alan Newman, lhp, Twins
98. Todd Ritchie, rhp, Twins

For those of you who don't recognize those names. McCarty, Banks, Cummings and Ritchie were all first round draft choices. McCarty (1991)  and Banks(1987) were each the third player taken. All four of those guys played in the big leagues. Ritchie actually had a couple good years after the Twins let him go. McCarty latched on as a role player late in his career. Newman and Mahomes each were also unsuccessful as major league players. That list is a warning of the limits of prospect projections. There really is no such thing as a can't fail prospect.

Here is my analysis of the six guys who are listed this year:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Right Field Competition

The Twins have all but handed the right field job to Chris Parmelee, largely because they think he is ready to hit in the big leagues, needs to get regular at bats and they have a guy named Morneau at first base. So the title of this post is a bit misleading. There may not be any real competition for the right field spot, unless Oswaldo Arcia forces the issue.

Arcia had a great season last year. He hit well in A ball at Fort Myers and did even better at AA New Britain. He is also reputed to have had a very good winter season. He is only 21 and has a bunch of people who follow the Twins minor leagues excited. But his chances of taking the job from Parmelee see pretty remote when you look at some numbers. Here are their slash lines (AVG/OBP/SLG) in the minor leagues last year:

Parmelee 2012 24 AAA .338 .457 .645
Arcia 2012 21 AA-A+ .320 .388 .539

Parmelee was a better hitter across the board. In addition, both hit 17 home runs, Parmelee did it in 282 plate appearances at AAA, while Arcia did it in 534 plate appearances split between A and AA.

Of course Arcia was younger and therefore has more room for improvement. But its unlikely he will have improved enough at the start of the season to surpass Parmelee and take the right field job. Arcia's one advantage is that he is likely a better fielder. Right field is Parmelee's job to lose and he probably can't do that without failing convincingly this year at the big league level.  Of course, Morneau's contract expires at the end of the season. So it may be the Twins will have an opening at first base and Parmelee is probably better suited to first base defensively than he is to right field. At that point, Arcia may be ready to step in.

Middle Infield Competition

There are four players competing for second base and shortstop. One of the losers in that competition will likely end up as a utility player.

The favorite at second base is Jamey Carroll. Carroll started last year as the Twins opening day shortstop and then played all over the infield. He is 39 years old and there is talk that the Twins think he will do better with more time off. But he is a steady veteran who can play anywhere and is probably the Twins best candidate for replacing Ben Revere as the number two hitter. He will be in the lineup most days, the question is whether it is at one position or all over the field.

Pedro Florimon, 26, is the favorite at shortstop. He has the best glove of any of the candidates. The problem is that he has not demonstrated much of a bat in his minor league career. There is also always the question with young players as to how consistent they can be in the field. The shortstop position appears to be Florimon's to lose, but his playing himself out of the position this spring is not out of the question.

Brian Dozier, 26 in May, is the guy the Twins would like to take the second base job. He failed miserably at shortstop last year both in the field and at the plate.  It doesn't sound like Dozier is going to be given much time at shortstop this spring. The Twins hope by moving him to second they can take some of the pressure to field off him and the bat he showed in the minor leagues will emerge at the major league level. He could also take the utility job, playing some at both shortstop and second.

Educardo Escobar is the fourth candidate and the youngest, having just turned 24 in January. He is probably Florimon's major competition at shortstop with many of the same strengths and weaknesses. He has some major league experience the last couple years with the White Sox, playing mostly third base.  He may profile best as a utility player, but he can play second or short and will compete with the others for a starting spot.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Comparing Center Fielders By the Numbers

When Terry Ryan traded Ben Revere he listed three players as being in competition for the position. Those were last year's fourth outfielder, Darin Mastroianni and minor league players Aaron Hicks and Joe Benson. Ryan said all three had the defense to play center field, the question was whether they would hit enough.

Mastroianni is 26 and played most of last year as the Twins fourth outfielder, so the is probably the favorite. But last year was his only major league experience beyond a one game appearance with Toronto in 2011. If he gets the job, he profiles as a place warmer until someone else is ready.

Benson and Hicks are both guys who have been touted in the past. Benson was in Baseball America's top 100 prospects for 2011 and 2012. Hicks was on the list from 2009 through 2011.

Hicks is a number one choice and has been looked at as a potential future star. He has both plus range and a plus arm in center field. On offense he has great speed, good base running skills,  draws walks and should have power potential as he gets older.

Benson was the Twins minor league player of the year in 2010 at New Britain when he hit 23 home runs. He got a call-up in 2011 and then fell apart last year with both performance and injury problems. The Twins are hoping that was just a false start.

It is instructive to compare Benson and Hicks performance at New Britain. Benson is a year and half older than Hicks so he was about the same age as Hicks both his first two seasons at New Britain. In 2010 he was six months younger than Hicks was last year and in 2011 he was six months older.  Hicks one and only season at AA was last year. Mastroianni also played in the Eastern League with New Hampshire in 2010 at age 24.

Here are the "slash" lines for each, AVG, OBP and SLG:

Benson Totals .256 .349 .479
Hicks 2012 .286 .384 .460
Mastroianni 2010 .301 .390 .398

That is only part of the story. Here are some other numbers:

Benson Totals 25.38% 59.62% 10.27% 10.27%
Hicks 2012 20.60% 74.42% 14.03% 7.99%
Mastroianni 2010 15.56% 82.14% 12.48% 5.83%

The first is strike outs per plate appearance. As you can see Benson struck out about 1 in every 4 plate appearances. To be fair, he improved slightly from 27% in 2010 to 23% in 2011 and then fell back again last year.

The second is the percentage of stolen bases compared to attempts. Again Mastroianni lead all three with Hicks close behind. Benson was the least successful. Benson also stole far fewer bases, only 31 in over 1000 plate appearances while getting caught 21 times. Hicks stole 32 in 563 plate appearances while getting caught 11 times. Mastroianni stole 46 while getting caught 10 times.

The third percentage is the number of walks per plate appearance. Again Benson is the worst of the three. Hicks is the best and Mastroianni finished between the two.

The fourth percentage is home runs per plate appearance. Here Benson shines, Hicks shows less power while Mastroianni takes up the rear.

Of course these numbers are not from the same year. Hicks numbers are the most recent, while both Benson and Mastroianni have more experience since then. More recent results are probably a plus for Mastroianni, but a decided negative for Benson.  But Hicks is also the youngest, which means his room for improvement is greater than the other two. Hicks finished last year strong and the Twins are hoping he is ready to build on that at the major league level.

If not, the most likely outcome is Mastroianni holding down the job while Hicks works on his game at AAA. Benson has a shot, but he really needs to show that his improvement a couple years ago at New Britain was not only real, but that he is going to build on it. Because even striking out 23% of the time against AA pitching is not the basis for a major league career. At least not as a starting player.

Center Field Competition

The last time the Twins had a competition for center field was when Torii Hunter left. There were three young players who came to spring training hoping to win the position. Carlos Gomez came from the Mets as part of the Johan Santana trade. Jason Pridie came from Tampa Bay as part of the Matt Garza tradeDenard Span had been heir apparent, but was considered by some to be a failed first round prospect.  Gomez won that competition. Pridie never amounted to much. And Span eventually emerged as the Twins regular center fielder with Gomez traded to the Brewers.

This year there are three candidates for center field after the Twins traded away not only Denard Span, but his apparent successor Ben Revere. Aaron Hicks is the heir apparent. He is a former first round choice who had a decent year at AA. Darin Mastroianni was the Twins fourth outfielder in 2012 and impressed the Twins with his base running and defense. Joe Benson struggled last year even after being demoted to AA, but in the past he has shown impressive power in the minor leagues.  Terry Ryan has said all three are natural center fielders with the arms and range to play there. The question for each is whether they can hit enough.

Its doubtful the Twins would have made those trades if they weren't fairly confident that they have someone to step in to the center field spot. I think Mastroianni is the guy who gave them that confidence. He plays good defense, he can run the bases and he is not completely lost at the plate.

Aaron Hicks is the guy the Twins are hoping will take the position, if not in spring training then sometime soon. Hicks brings above average range and arm to center field. Currently he is more a table setter offensively with good on base and baserunning skills. But he could easily develop Torii Hunter power in the future.

Joe Benson is a guy with great athletic skills. But those don't always translate to great baseball skills. He has showed he can hit for prodigious power, but whether he will hit often enough is a big question mark. Even against minor league pitching he was striking out 25% of the time. He also walked a lot. You can call that patience, but his success may come from waiting for minor league pitchers to get behind in the count and serve him a fat pitch he can hit over the wall. That won't work in the big leagues.  Benson has the most to prove of the three candidates.

There are two non-roster players who can also play center field, CleteThomas and Brandon Boggs. They are not really candidates for the starting job. But they could win a job as fourth outfielder if the Twins start the season with Mastroianni in center field or someone gets hurt.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Twins Starters Unsettled

As the Twins spring training gets started the rotation has become more unsettled. Its not clear that either Scott Diamond or Mike Pelfrey will be ready to pitch opening day. Anthony Swarzak, another starting candidate, is out with broken ribs. He might be able to pitch out of the bullpen to start the season, but he is not going to get stretched out as a potential starter. So here is the way the rotation shapes up.

Vance Worley

Worley came over the the trade for Ben Revere. The response to that trade reminds me of when the Twins traded Frank Viola. In the minds of fans and sports writers, the crown jewel of that trade was the much-touted pitching prospect David West.   Rick Aguilera and Kevin Tapani were clearly afterthoughts. A lot was made of Trevor May as the top prospect in the Revere trade. But Vance Worley looks like a young number two quality starter who will be part of the Twins rotation for years to come. He's the same age as Tapani was when he arrived with the Twins and he already has a couple major league season's under his belt.

Kevin Correa

Correa was signed to a two year contract in the off-season. He is not going to ever be a staff ace, but profiles as a steady veteran presence on the staff. He is a mid-rotation starter at best, about the equivalent of Scott Diamond last year. Perhaps most importantly, he has stayed relatively healthy and started 26 or more games the last 4 years with innings pitched between 145 and 198.

Because of health concerns, those are the only spots really set in the opening day rotation. The best of the rest,  Diamond, Pelfrey, Harden and Gibson, are all question marks to be ready to start the season. The pitchers who are healthy are mostly the folks that filled out the rotation last year, DeVries, Deduno Hendricks, Walters and Vasquez. You can see why the Twins are open to giving their newest signing, Rafael Perez, a shot at becoming a starter.

Why Joe Mauer Should Not Bat Second

Some people want Joe Mauer batting second? That's a great idea, he is by far the best number two hitter on the Twins. He would also be the best leadoff hitter, the best number 9,8,7,6,5 hitters. In fact, he would be the Twins best cleanup hitter. In short, no matter where you put Joe Mauer in the batting order, he will outshine whoever is hitting there now. But that is the wrong question.

The question is where does Joe Mauer help the Twins the most? And the answer to that is batting third, the traditional spot for a team's best hitter. There are good reasons for that tradition. But lets look at what happens with Mauer batting second.

The general argument for Mauer batting second is that he gets on base a lot, something generally valued in number two hitters. The other argument is that batting second he will get more plate appearances. Based on last year, he will get 17 additional plate appearances by moving from the number 3 spot to the number 2 spot in the order. These extra 17 at bats would all come at the end of the game when the number two batter on the Twins made their last out of that game.  So these extra at bats will come with two out. If you substitute his OBP of .400 for a different player with a .300 OBP,  the Twins will get 1.7 (round it up to 2)  more base runners with two outs over the course of the season by moving Mauer up in the order.

UPDATE 2/23/2013

While this evaluates the effect of putting Mauer in the second spot, it fails to consider the effect of moving the number two batter to the end of the order. Last year the Twins number two hitter got 741 plate appearances, the number nine batter got 619. So moving the number two hitter to number nine shifts 122 plate appearances to the rest of the order, including the 17 that would go to Mauer.  The value of those extra plate appearances depends on the extent to which the number two hitter is better or worse than the average player in the rest of the order. Its likely this year that would provide some additional marginal benefit to Mauer batting second. 

The first inning is the only time there is any real difference between batting second or third. In subsequent innings, the nine hitter will in essence be in same spot related to the number two hitter that the leadoff hitter is to the number nine hitter.  So the beginning of the game is where you see the downside of batting second.

In the first inning, batting second Mauer will see about half as many base runners as he would batting third. If the number two hitter ahead of him batting third would have had a .300 OBP, it will be about 48 fewer base runners (.300*162 game) when Mauer bats second. But, its not only Mauer who will see fewer base runners. So will whoever was batting cleanup and is moved up to the number 3 spot. For the Twins that probably means Willingham (or Morneau).

One beneficiary of this is the number five hitter. By moving to the cleanup spot he will be more likely to hit with Mauer and other base runners ahead of him. About 30% (.300) of the times a runner is on base, the cleanup hitter would have made the last out, preventing the number five hitter from getting a shot at those base runners.  Most of the other 70% of those extra RBI opportunities would go to the current number 6  hitter(Ryan Doumit) moving to number 5 and the number 7 hitter (Chris Parmelee/Trevor Plouffe) moving to number 6. There would likely be a few extra chances for the number 8 hitter who moved up to the 7 spot as well.

In short, the result of moving Mauer to the second spot, is to move a bunch of RBI opportunities to lesser hitters lower in the order. All for the benefit of an extra couple base runners with two out at the end of the game. Of course if Parmelee and Plouffe suddenly turn into allstar hitters, then you can make the case for giving them more RBI opportunities at Mauer's expense. But that doesn't seem like a very likely starting point this season.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Twins Batting Order

There are no real obvious replacements for either Denard Span and Ben Revere at the top of the Twins lineup. In addition to creating an opening in center field, trading those two created openings for both the leadoff and number two hitters.  Here is a rundown of the Twins lineups with some comments on how various spots will be filled.


There are three basic skills teams look for in a leadoff hitter. One is to get on base. The second is to be able to advance themselves once they get on base by stealing or advancing an extra base. The third is to look at a lot of pitches so the hitters that follow see the pitchers stuff.

The most likely candidate here is Darin Mastroianni if he wins the center field spot. He is a better base stealer than Span, but he gets on base less often. I don't know about his pitch taking ability. If Aaron Hicks wins the center field spot he would bring some tools to the leadoff role also. He has speed and is reputed to be a patient hitter.  But the Twins may not want to put that much pressure on him as a rookie. Joe Benson doesn't fit the leadoff spot very well at all. He is more an all or nothing power hitter who should be batting lower in the order. Jamey Carroll would also be a possibility. He gets on base, but lacks the speed to advance himself.


Teams are looking for a player with skills similar to the leadoff batter, but with the additional ability to advance runners. Carroll fits this role pretty well. He gets on base, he is a veteran and he doesn't strike out very often. Brian Dozier would be another possibility here if he can hit like he did in the minor leagues.

There have been some who have suggested that Joe Mauer should be moved up to the number two spot because he gets on base a lot.  But Mauer's on base ability has as much value batting third. And, with him batting second, both he and whoever replaces him in the number three spot would see fewer base runners. To put that in perspective, even if the number two hitter only had a .300 OBP, Mauer and the new number three hitter would each see 48 fewer base runners in the first inning. Mauer may not hit many home runs, but he has enough pop that you want him at the plate with runners on base.


Teams usually put their best hitter in the number three spot. They are looking for a combination of the ability to drive in the runners ahead of them and getting on base for the runners behind them. Mauer is the Twins number three hitter and likely to stay there. If Morneau went back to hitting .300+ with home run power, that might change. But that isn't likely to happen in spring training.


Teams put their best power hitter in the cleanup spot. The idea is that they will see a lot of batters on base and use their power to drive them in.  Until last year, Justin Morneau was the Twins cleanup hitter. The problem is that both he and Mauer are left handed and Morneau has some trouble with lefties. So last year, with Morneau's numbers down, the Twins moved Josh Willingham into this role. If Morneau returns to his MVP production he belongs here. But I suspect the year will start with Willingham in the cleanup spot.


This guy is usually the next best cleanup hitter. And that is how it will work with the Twins with either Willingham or Morneau batting fifth.


Ryan Doumit, as the next best hitter, will most likely bat sixth.


Chris Parmelee and Trevor Plouffe will probably trade this spot depending on the pitcher with Parmelee here the most against righties. The development of these two as offensive players could transform this lineup into one pitchers would rather skip.


Plouffe or Parmlee.


Pedro Florimon or whoever else wins the second infield spot. Florimon has some speed on the basepaths, but he doesn't hit enough to be much of an offensive force.

That lineup has the potential to make the Twins a contender. But there are enough question marks that it isn't likely they will all have positive answers.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Twins Prospects in Camp

The Twins have a number of prospects in camp this year. That includes a number of players who have lost their rookie status in the last couple years. Many of them are not candidates for the roster, but several have shots at jobs in spring training. Two of them are likely penciled in to starting positions.

Pedro Florimon is no longer a rookie since he barely got over 130 at bats last year. But he is probably the leading candidate for starting shortstop. The Twins hope Aaron Hicks will be ready to take the center field job.

Kyle Gibson is not likely to win the 5th spot in the rotation out of spring training, but he certainly could. He will need to show he is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. And he is not going to get the job by default.  He will need to not only show that he is better than the other options, but convince the Twins he is ready to pitch successfully in the major leagues.

Liam Hendriks is the other prospect with a shot at the 5th spot in the rotation. He lost his rookie status in appearances with the Twins last year. He has had great success the last couple years in the minors, but that hasn't translated to success against major league hitters

In addition to Florimon, there are two other guys competing for middle infield spots, Eduardo Escobar
and Brian Dozier. Like Florimon, Dozier lost his rookie status last year as he won the starting shortstop spot but couldn't produce defensively or offensively. The Twins hope that was a case of being rushed. Escobar came to the Twins as part of the Liriano trade. He can play shortstop, second or third and probably fits best as a utility guy. At 24, he is the youngest of the infield candidates, but lost his rookie status while with the White Sox.

In addition to Aaron Hicks, Joe Benson is the other prospect expected to be given a shot at the center field position. Benson has some pop in his bat and can play all three outfield positions. His problem has been making contact even against minor league pitching. His defense makes him a candidate for the 4th outfielder spot. Oswaldo Arcia may be the best bat of any of the young players in camp. But he hasn't played above AA and is a corner outfielder. He may provide some competition for Chris Parmelee in right field, but is unlikely to get a serious chance there to start the season.

Caleb Thielbar has a shot at a bullpen spot, but more likely will start the year at AAA. Pedro Hernandez, Brett Hermsen, Trevor May and Michael Tonkin are all guys who are slated for the minor leagues. Hernandez was the other player besides Escobar in the Liriano trade and has pitched in the big leagues, so he might be considered for the 5th starter spot if he opens some eyes in spring training.

Danny Santana, Chris Herrmann, Josmil Pinto are all slated for minor league roles. They are in camp because they are on the major league roster. Herrmann made his major league debut last fall as an extra catcher. If the Twins need an extra catcher for a few games this summer, he may get that chance again since he is on the roster. But he probably isn't ready to hold a major league catching job for any length of time.

In addition to the prospects on the major league roster there are a number of non-roster invites that are also candidates for positions. Their chances were covered in an early post

Non-Roster Invitees

Each year a bunch of players who are not on the major league roster get invited to be part of major league spring training. This year the Twins invited 26 non-roster players to spring training. Not all these players are really competing for roster spots. Many are AAA backup players signed as minor league free agents. They got invited as part of their minor league deals, a common way to entice minor league free agents to sign. The players want to make sure they get a chance to be noticed by the major league staff in case an opening occurs during the season. They are really competing for AAAA positions, the guys who are first in line when there is a need at the major league level.

Others, like the four catchers below, are invited because of the need for extra players. They also have no real chance to make the roster. They were invited because catchers are needed for all the extra pitchers in camp. It also allows catcher to start becoming familiar with major league pitchers they may have to work with in the future. For instance, Danny Lehman may well be the first guy called up if the Twins lose a catcher since the only other catchers on the roster are youngsters. If that happens, he will already know a little about the pitchers from working with them in spring training over the years. Of course, its also possible one of the other catchers will catch the eye of the major league staff and get the job ahead of Lehman.

Among the pitchers Oliveros is out for the year with Tommy John surgery. Blackburn, and possibly Harden, will start the year on the DL. Once healthy, they are both candidates for the rotation.

Deduno, Vasquez and Walters were all dropped from the major league roster during the winter and resigned to minor league deals. They are all candidates for the 5th starter spot, but Deduno is probably the only one with much of a chance. Vasquez and Walters are there mostly as AAAA backups, just like last year. But they ended up in a Twins uniform in 2012 and they might again in 2013. Martis has mostly been a starter, so its possible he will get a shot there.

The Twins just signed Rafael Perez to a minor league deal. Perez has been used exclusively out of the bullpen in the big leagues and was injured last year with shoulder surgery. The Twins said the initial plan was to stretch him out as a possible starter. He  is an experienced major league lefty who will likely end up in the bullpen if he is healthy and recovered. In many ways his situation is similar to Harden. Harden has been a major league starter in the past with a lot of injury issues. He will be given a shot at a rotation spot, but may end up in the bullpen.

Augenstein, Guerra, Martis, Perdomo and Slama are all bullpen candidates. Guerra is the only one without major league experience, but he may finally be starting to display a small measure of the talent the Twins thought they were getting when he was included in the Johan Santana trade. Perdomo did well for the Twins last year. Slama has done well in the minor leagues, but the Twins seem to be very doubtful that his funky delivery will fool major league hitters. Augenstein was a free agents signing.  Martis was purchased from the Pirates last season when the Twins ran short of pitching. All of them are long shots, but they all will be given a look for bullpen spots and callups when injuries occur.

Alex Meyer is in camp because the Twins traded Denard Span for him and they are hoping he is going to move the majors quickly. Its very doubtful it will be to start the season, but more likely by September. He is there to get familiar with the organization and to let the organization see him first hand.

There are three third baseman among the infielders. Deibinson Romero is a long time Twins prospect who was a free agent last fall and resigned with the Twins. Mark Sobolewski was taken in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. That means he does not need to be returned and can be sent to the minors. Ray Olmedo is the other third baseman and the only one with any major league experience. He can also play shortstop or second, so he might be a candidate for utility infielder. These guys are whatever competition there is for Trevor Plouffe at third base. Unlike Plouffe,  Sobolewski is a good defender. He also started to show some pop in his bat last year. So if Plouffe looks like the guy who struggled the last half of last year, its possible they would turn to Sobolewski.

Jeff Clement and Chris Carballo are both minor league sluggers who might get a spot on the major league roster as a bat off the bench. But mostly they are going to be using their bats to give Rochester or New Britain a chance to win.

James Beresford plays second and shortstop. He might get a shot as the utility infielder, but probably is only a AAA backup. He hasn't played above AA, but was a free agent last fall and resigned with the Twins.

Clete Thomas and Brandon Boggs are both candidates for fourth outfielder on the Twins if neither Hicks nor Benson are ready for the major league jobs. They can play all three outfield positions. So can Ramirez, but it is doubtful the Twins would be comfortable with him in center field. Dinkelman has played with the Twins in the past. He can play several positions, including second base, in addition to the outfield. He could be an extra player, but is probably not a candidate for 4th outfielder since he isn't a center fielder.


Bryan Augenstein (R)
Nick Blackburn (S)
Samuel Deduno(S)
Deolis Guerra (R)
Rich Harden (S/R)
Shairon Martis (R/S)
Alex Meyer (M)
Lester Oliveros (DL)
Luis Perdomo (R)
Rafael Perez (R/S)
Anthony Slama (R)
Esmerling Vasquez (S/R)
P.J. Walters (S/R)

Eric Fryer (M)
Kyle Knudson (M)
Danny Lehmann (AAAA)
Dan Rohlfing (M)

James Beresford (AAAA)
Jeff Clement (1B/DH)
Chris Colabello (1B/DH)
Ray Olmedo (3B/UT)
Deibinson Romero (3B)
Mark Sobolewski (3B)

Brandon Boggs (4)
Brian Dinkelman (5)
Wilkin Ramirez (5)
Clete Thomas (4)

R = Reliever Candidate
S = Starting Candidate
M = Minor League Player
UT=Utility Infielder
4= Fourth Outfielder
5= Fifth Outfielder
AAAA = Potential Backup at AAA

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Predicted Opening Day Lineup and Roster

We all know there are a bunch of decisions for the Twin to make this spring and lots of people in camp to provide options. But I think it is useful to guess what the opening day lineup and roster will look like even though a lot will change by the start of the season.

Opening Day Lineup:

Hicks - CF
Carroll - 2B
Mauer - C
Willingham - LF
Morneau - 1B
Doumit - DH
Parmlee - RF
Plouffe - 3B
Florimon - SS
Worley - SP

Rotation:  Worley, Diamond, Pelfrey, Correia, De Vries

  Bullpen:   Perkins, Burton, Duensing, Burnett, Fien ,Wood, Robertson
  Fielders:  Mastroianni, Butera, Escobar, Sobolewski
  DL:         Swarzak

What the exercise shows is there are five spots which are very wide open. De Vries,  Robertson, Wood, Escobar and Sobolewksi are in many ways all longshots to make the opening day roster. There are several other players who could be on the roster in place of any of them. In addition, Florimon and Hicks have competition, albeit more focused, for their jobs.

It will be interesting to follow all the competition this spring. If you have your own projection put it in the comments below, but please make it clear whether its a projection of what the Twins WILL do or what you think they SHOULD do. The above is my prediction of what they will do.

Twins Roster Competition

Here is how the Twins roster stacks up going into spring training:

Outfield (4):
Ink: Willingham, Mastroianni
Pencil: Parmelee
Competing: Hicks, Benson
Longshots: Arcia

Willingham is set in left. Parmelee is likely in right. Mastroianni will compete with Hicks and Benson for the center field spot. If he loses, he will be on the roster as a 4th outfielder. If Mastroianni wins the starting center field position, Benson may have a shot as  the 4th outfielder. More likely is that spot gets filled by someone not on the roster.  The 4th outfielder needs to be able to play center field since none of the other outfielders can play there. Willingham, Parmelee, Mauer and Doumit are not center fielders even in an emergency.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

2013 Isn't a Rebuilding Year for Twins

Are the Twins rebuilding? Should they be?

There are two ways to see that question. If by "rebuilding", the implication is that he Twins don't think they can compete this season, then no the Twins are not rebuilding. If by rebuilding, you mean the Twins are making a lot of changes to the team they had last year. Then yes, the Twins have rebuilt.

2012 Twins are Long Gone

Its tempting to compare the Twins from last fall with the team going into this spring training. And the team that was there last fall was already a lot different from the team that played most of the season.  The Twins team that started the 2012 season is long gone, but its interesting to see what has changed in the past year. Between changes last season and moves last winter, the 2013 Twins looks very different from the team that entered spring training a year ago.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Twins Bullpen for 2013

The Twins bullpen has five members returning:
Glen Perkins, closer,
Jarad Burton, primary setup,
Brian Duensing, lefty setup
Alex Burnett, middle relief
Anthony Swarzak, long relief

Swarzak just broke several ribs and may or may not be ready by opening day. Had he stayed healthy, he might have had a shot at the fifth spot in the rotation. But assuming he gets healthy, the Twins will need to find at least two more guys to fill out the bullpen.

Twins Pitching - Starting Out Average

     Last year the Twins starting pitching stunk. But that has almost nothing to do with this year. The only pitcher who is likely to return from the starting staff at the end of last season is Scott Diamond who spent the first month of 2012 at AAA. Three of this year's projected starters, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Corriea and Vance Worley didn't throw a pitch for the Twins. So when evaluating where the Twins are with their rotation going into spring training, the results of last year's debacle in the rotation aren't a meaningful starting point.

But what happens if you look at the individual performances of the projected rotation? Start with  Pelfrey, Diamond, Correia and Worley . Add Cole de Vries as a fifth starter since he was the best of the rest for the Twins last year. Now assume all five stay healthy, start 32+ games and pitch at the same average rates they did in 2012, using Pelfrey's 2011 season since he hardly pitched last year. You end up with a major league average starting staff in terms of earned runs and innings pitched.

MLB Twins Updates