Sunday, March 31, 2013

Comparing Last Year's Opening Day Lineup to This Year's

Here is the lineup for last year's opening day:

Span (CF)
Carroll (SS)
Mauer (C)
Morneau (DH)
Willingham (LF)
Doumit (RF)
Valencia (3B)
Parmelee (1B)
Casilla (2b)
SP Pavano

This year's lineup:

Hicks (CF)
Carroll/Dozier (2B)
Mauer (C)
Willingham (LF)
Morneau (1B)
Doumit (DH)
Parmelee (RF)
Plouffe (3B)
Florimon (SS)
SP Worley

Here is how that lineup stacks up:


Span was a better leadoff hitter than Hicks will likely be this year. That is aside from being a proven veteran with a lot less possibility of failing.

Carroll was also a better number two hitter than Dozier. Although there is not a lot of reason other than normal aging to think this year's version of Carroll will be any better or worse than last years.

Joe Mauer should be Joe Mauer. There have been some suggestions he will step up his power, but that is probably mostly spring training chatter.

Willingham replaces Morneau in the cleanup spot. This is how the year ended last year. Unless Morneau goes back to hitting like an MVP, its likely Willingham will be better than Morneau turned out to be last year. Certainly better than Morneau's start.

Morneau replaces Willingham. Again, this is likely to be an improvement in some ways, but not compared to expectations. Morneau will not likely match Willingham's home run output, but then Willingham didn't project to hit 35 home runs last year either.

Doumit should be Doumit.

Parmelee replaces Valencia. Parmelee projects as a much better hitter, but then Valencia was expected to be much better than he was.

Plouffe replaces Parmelee.  Plouffe will likely hit better than Parmelee last year. But that is not a very high bar. The enthusiasm for Parmelee's bat is based on his AAA performance, not what he did against major league pitching.

Florimon replaces Casilla. Casilla was a better hitter than Florimon is ever likely to be. Again, not a high bar.

Overall the Twins offense should be as good, if not better, than last year.It could be a lot better if Hicks, Parmelee and Plouffe are all productive hitters.


Mauer and Willingham are the only defenders returning at the same position. Morneau is a better defensive first baseman than Parmelee. Casilla was better then Dozier is likely to be at second. Florimon is a big improvement at shortstop over Carroll. Plouffe and Valencia are probably comparable defensive players, but Valencia had more experience. Strangely, Parmelee is likely an improvement defensively in right field over Doumit. Span, as a veteran, was a better center fielder than Hicks to start the year.

Overall, the Twins defense has improved with Florimon at shortstop and Morneau back at first. Dozier and Hicks are close enough to their predecessors that it won't make a huge difference. Of course this compares to the start of the year and  Ben Revere was on the bench.

It appears the Twins position players have improved from a year ago and they may be better than they at any point last season.


This year's starter, Vance Worley, actually looks better than Carl Pavano, who was last year's starter. But last year the Twins started with Capps as the closer and Perkins as a setup guy. Its not clear they have the same quality in the bullpen.

The Twins pitching has them projected to finish last again in the division. But their everyday lineup is likely stronger. Whether that will be enough to compensate for the pitching is the real question.  

Friday, March 29, 2013

Five Keys To Twins Success, Key Five: Bullpen

The Twins bullpen is the final key to their success. As mentioned earlier the Twins success depends on closer Glenn Perkins shortening games to eight innings. But the Twins starting pitching is not going to get them to the ninth inning on their own very often.

Last year, the Twins bullpen was one of its strong points.

Jared Burton, emerged last year as the Twins primary setup guy. Aside from Glen Perkins he is the only returning player who spent the whole year in the bullpen.

Brian Duensing bounced between the rotation and setup guy last year. He needs to emerge as a major contributor in the bullpen this year.

Anthony Swarzak was a swing man last year, moving between long relief and the rotation. He starts the year on the disabled list, but the Twins need for him to emerge as a stable part of the bullpen.

Casey Fien and Tyler Robertson were called up in early July and late June respectively. Fien was a solid middle reliever. Robertson is a lefty specialist. He is almost unhittable by lefties, but struggles against right handers.

Brian Roenicke was picked up off waivers from Colorado. He is projected as another middle inning guy.

Ryan Pressly is the last member of the bullpen. He was taken in the rule 5 draft. He was shifted to the bullpen in the minor leagues last year, pitched well in the Arizona Fall league, showing velocity into the mid-90's, much higher than he had as a starter and had a great spring training.

Performance by the bullpen, with a few exceptions, is always uncertain. But with the Twins starting pitching, they can't afford many bullpen meltdowns. They are going to need six innings from their starter, two innings from the middle relief and a lights out performance by Glenn Perkins.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Five Keys to Twins Success, Key Four: Three Starters

One of the criticisms of the Twins is that there rotation going to consist of five guys who are bottom of the rotation starters. The Twins success depends on the three starters with the potential to be better than that. Mike Pelfrey, Scott Diamond and Vance Worley all need to be above average big league starters. The Twins have a number of candidates to share the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation with Kevin Correia. But they don't have anyone else ready for the big leagues who has the ability to be a top of the rotation starter this year. 

Mike Pelfrey

Pelfrey is the veteran of the three. He put up close to 200 innings for four years until last season when he had Tommy John surgery after three successful starts. It usually takes more than a year for a pitcher to recover from that procedure, but Pelfry has appeared to be healthy all spring. If he is healthy and effective he can be a top of the rotation starter.

Scott Diamond

Diamond was a pleasant surprise for the Twins last year. He was taken in the rule 5 draft for the 2011 season and spent the entire year at AAA.  He started last year dominating at AAA and became the Twins best pitcher once called up. If he can repeat last year's performance over a full season, he will give the Twins a solid above average starter with 200+ innings.

Vance Worley

Worley, who came to the Twins in exchange for Ben Revere,  is a year younger than Diamond. He had a good 2011 season after being called up from AAA and then struggled in 2012. Some of that may be attributable to bone chips that were removed last fall. If he pitches for a full season the way he did in 2011, he will give the Twins another solid number two starter.

The Twins pitching is unlikely to be a strength. None of these guys are going to consistently dominate other teams. But with the offensive potential of their lineup, they don't need to for the Twins to win. They just need to pitch well enough to keep the Twins in games without overworking the bullpen. A key to the Twins being competitive is for these guys to give the team quality starts most of the time.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Effect of Hendriks' Injury / Roster Management

No real Impact on Rotation from Liam Hendriks' Injury

Unless Liam Hendriks injured hand is much worse than described, it is not likely to require any significant changes in the Twins rotation. With a day off after their spring opener, the Twins won't really need a fifth starter until April 7th. That's 12 days from now. That would mean having DeVries pitch ahead of him in the rotation on April 5th, assuming that wasn't the original plan anyway. To push him back to the 7th would also require Worley to make his second start on April 6th, rather than getting an extra day of rest.

Scott Diamond has said his target date for being ready is April 12th.   That means whoever is the 5th starter will get only one start in that role. With an off day April 11th, they can rearrange the rotation schedule to accommodate either DeVries or Hendriks, whichever one wins the competition for the last rotation spot.

Roster Management

The Twins apparently are planning to keep Wilkin Ramirez who is not on the major league roster. As I posted earlier this will require opening a spot on the 40 player roster for him. That decision should be announced in the next couple days. No one has really played their way out of a job, with the possible exception of Robertson and he still has options left. This is something that the Twins may struggle with this season more than usual. Once guys like Harden and Perez who are on minor league contracts are ready to pitch, they will need to create room for them. And they don't have many likely candidates to pass through waivers.

Five Keys To Twins Success: First Picks Emerge

With the Twins pitching lacking really dominant starters, they are going to need to regularly produce runs to have a chance of winning even when the starters keep them in the game. The Twins start the year with  four experienced hitters in their lineup.  Mauer, Willingham and Morneau make formidable middle of the lineup. They are followed by Ryan Doumit. Those guys are going to produce some runs, but the Twins will need more than that to be competitive.

The key to the Twins producing even more runs is going to be the production they get from three former first round choices, Aaron Hicks mentioned yesterday in Keys: Up The Middle, Chris Parmelee and Trevor Plouffe. Hicks is the only rookie in that group. But Plouffe and Parmelee are still looking to spend their first full season in the big leagues.  Neither one is an outstanding defensive player, so they are going need to show they are productive major league hitters.

Trevor Plouffe 

Plouffe went on a tear in June last season when he hit 11 home runs. That's a  Ruthian pace that no one expects to be repeated for a full season. He got hurt and struggled the last couple months. He needs to come back this year and put up numbers closer to those he had during the middle of last season. Last year was his first playing there regularly and it showed.   He needs to demonstrate adequate defense at third base this year no matter how well he hits.

Chris Parmelee

Parmelee tore up the International League while at AAA last year, but was unable to transfer that success to the major leagues with irregular playing time. Nonetheless, the Twins handed him the right field job in the off-season. He is probably more suited to first base than the outfield. But he appears to be an adequate fielder. He just needs to hit.

The Twins lineup goes from adequate to dangerous if Plouffe and Parmelee play up to the potential they had when drafted. There aren't many teams that have a guy hitting eighth with the pop Plouffe showed hitting 24 home runs last year in only 465 plate appearances. These two are key components of an offense that needs to compensate for a mediocre starting rotation.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Five Keys to Twins Success: Up the Middle

With a number of starters who rely on their defense one key to the Twins success will be its defense up the middle. There are three young players Hicks, Dozier and Florimon  who look like they will join Mauer int he center of the team defense. Other options are Escobar and Carroll.  In addition to their defense, these players are also likely to provide the leadoff and number two hitters who will set up the potent middle of the order.  For the Twins to successful, they need their three youngsters to avoid mistakes in the field and to do enough damage on offense.

Aaron Hicks

Hicks won the center field spot. Sandwiched between Parmelee and Willingham, Hicks is going to have a bigger job than recent center fielders who have usually shared the outfield with at least one corner guy with good range. He has the speed and arm for the position. The question is whether he can avoid rookie errors. On offense, he will be the leadoff hitter. The Twins have been raving about his leadoff skills, especially that way he sees so many pitches. He will need to sustain that approach as pitchers start to adjust to his patient approach.

Brian Dozier

Dozier failed at shortstop last year. But he has received very high marks for his defense this spring after making the transition to second base.  He can only improve with more experience there after spending most of his career on the other side of the infield. The real test for Dozier is whether he can hit enough. He has been slotted into the number two spot this spring and will likely start the year there. The Twins need for him to produce as a number two hitter since they have no one else who really fits in that role.

Pedro Florimon

Florimon was all but handed the shortstop position based on his defense last fall. The question is his ability to hit. He has done nothing in spring training to change either one of those. He is likely to be the number nine hitter. The question is whether he will hit enough even there that his defense makes up for his liability on offense.

The Twins have a lot bet on these three. Darin Mastroianni gives them a good fallback both in center if Hicks fails. But his leadoff skills, while probably acceptable, don't compare to those projected for Hicks.  Jamie Carroll and Eduardo Escobar give the Twins two guys who could step in if Dozier or Florimon fail. Carroll may be the best offensive player of the middle infielders, but the Twins seem convinced he needs time off to stay on his game. Like Florimon, Escobar is a slick fielder. He is a plus defender at any of  three infield positions. But his bat is also suspect.

For the Twins to be successful  they need to have solid defense up the middle with players who can get on base enough to give the middle of the order RBI's opportunities. Hicks, Dozier and Florimon proving they can fill that rather large role is a key to the Twins success this year.

Monday, March 25, 2013

It IS Gardy's Fault

The question of whether Ron Gardenhire has some responsbility for the Twins failure the last couple of years is an interesting one. There apparently are a lot of sports writers who think he doesn't. I suspect part of that is that Gardenhire is a great interviews  Reporters like friendly guys who help them write interesting stories.
This story from story from Ken Rosenthal is an example.

Making Room on the 40 Player Roster

The Twins made what appear to have made their final cuts of everyday players. Wilkin Ramirez looks like he has won a spot as a fifth outfielder and bat off the bench. Its still possible the Twins will grab someone off waivers or carry an extra pitcher. But they do not have a lot of flexibility on their 40 player roster. Here are the non-roster players apparently still in competition for roster spots:

Non-roster Players 

In order to keep any of these players, the Twins will need to move someone off the roster. This means moving them through waivers where any other team can claim them. If a player clears waivers, they can be sent to the minors or, in some cases, become a free agent.

The Twins don't have any obvious candidates who would pass through waivers unclaimed. But here are some possibilities, in descending order of likelihood:

Tyler Robertson

If Robertson does not win a spot in the bullpen, the Twins may try to pass him through waivers. But has a lefty who is very hard on lefties, he would be a likely target for some team to claim as a LOOGY. I believe Robertson would also be one of those players who could declare himself a free agent if he cleared waivers.

Tim Wood

Wood was signed as a minor league free agent last winter and then added to the roster to protect him from the rule 5 draft. I am not sure on the rules for waiving a player who is injured, but if he does not win a bullpen spot he would be another candidate for opening a roster spot.

Caleb Thielbar

Thielbar was added to the roster last fall. It seems unlikely the Twins would expose him to waivers so quickly, but he didn't really stick around the major league camp very long.

Pedro Hernandez

Hernandez was part of the deal for Liriano. He pitched well in spring training. Again, he seems like a doubtful candidate unless the Twins think they can slip him through waivers.

Alex Burnett

In the unlikely event Burnett does not win a spot in the bullpen, the Twins could try to slip him through waivers.

Cole De Vries

If De Vries loses out in the rotation battle and doesn't get a job in the bullpen he might be a candidate for opening a waiver spot.

Joe Benson

The Twins might be ready to give up on Benson, but it is very unlikely. More likely would be an attempt to move him in trade.

Most of the players on that list beyond Robertson and Wood are not guys the Twins are likely to give up on. What that means is that they have very little flexibility in providing openings for the three non-roster players still in competition for spots on the opening day 25 player roster. That lack of flexibility will also come into play when and if Harden and Perez, neither of whom is on the major league roster, are healthy. We may see the Twins trying to move some players in trade just to open up roster spots.

Five Keys To Twins Success, Key One: Core Players

The Twins starting pitching is not going to dominate many games. So they are going to have to deliver on offense. Like most teams, the middle of the lineup drives the offensive numbers. The Twins have three guys that can match up pretty well with any team in baseball when they stay healthy. Mauer, Willingham and Morneau need to put up big numbers for the Twins to be competitive.


As the Twins number three hitter,  Mauer lacked the home run power you want in that spot last year.  Ideally, Mauer would regain the power he had a few years ago and hasn't shown since. But at a minimum he needs to be among the league leaders in batting average and on base percentage with some extra base hits


Willingham supplanted Morneau as the cleanup hitter last year. That  put a right handed bat between Mauer and Morneau.  Opposing manager werer forced to choose between using his lefty specialist against Willingham, or letting Mauer hit against a right hander. Willingham doesn't necessarily need to repeat his career year, but he needs to come close.


Morneau slowly recovered from his concussion last year. His July and August numbers looked a lot closer the Morneau of old, hitting over .300 on a n annual pace of 20+ home runs. The Twins need him to repeat those July and August performances over a full season.

Simply put, the Twins cannot afford to lose many close games in the ninth inning and stay in the race. That makes Glenn Perkins almost as important as three players above.

Glenn Perkins

Glenn Perkins took over as closer mid-season last year. Twins handed him a contract this winter based on his taking over the closer role. They need for him to succeed in that role over a full season.  If he doesn't, we will likely see the rest of the team pressing to provide big leads. That is a formula for cascading failure.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Twins Bullpen Close to Settled

The Twins are down to eight relievers competing for seven spots.  Perdomo was sent to the minors.  Wood pitched well and then came up down with a "strained rotator cuff".

That leaves 8 candidates still in camp and Robertson just got lit up badly in his last outing. He may or may not get a chance to redeem himself.  If not, the bullpen competition appears almost over unless one of the guys losing the competition for the rotation bumps somebody.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Competition Update for Last Two Roster Spots

I covered the competition for the last two roster spots in an  earlier post. Here is an update of that competition assuming Hicks, Florimon and Dozier win starting jobs. Which of these players makes the roster probably depends more on which positions the Twins decide to fill, rather than the differences between players in different categories.

Third Catcher

Second Utility Infielder

Fifth Outfielder


Extra Bat

Clement was drafted in the first round as a catcher and played there in the minor leagues until his knees gave out. He apparently is still capable of catching if needed in an emergency. Likewise, Escobar has been working out a bit behind the plate, although he had no experience catching at any level. But neither one is competing for the third catcher position, they are strictly emergency replacements if there was an injury.

Escobar may still be in the competition for a starting infield position, but its looking increasingly like Dozier and Florimon have locked those down. 

Boggs can play all three outfield spots, which may be a slight advantage over Ramirez who is really limited to the corners. I think Ramirez' bat  probably has a slight advantage over Boggs'.

Clements only real role is as a bat off the bench,  although he can also back up Morneau at first.  His bat probably needs to be a clearly better option than Ramirez' or Boggs' to have much chance.  Its also possible the Twins will go outside the organization to find a bat off the bench.

Three Down, Nine to Go.

Benson, Hernandez and Perdomo were reportedly sent the the minor league camp today, leaving 38 players still in the major league camp. Four of those, Diamond, Swarzak, Harden and Perez will start the year in extended spring training recovering from injuries. I don't think catcher Dan Rohlfing  is really in the competition for a spot on the roster, but he will likely remain in camp to handle pitchers until they pare down the competition further.

That leaves 33 players competing for 25 spots. There are 16 healthy pitchers still in camp and only 12 spots available. With six set, the remaining ten are competing for the other six spots.  There are 17 position players competing for 13 spots With eight players set, the remaining nine  players are competing for five spots. 

With Benson gone, the center field competition looks all but over with Hicks as the starter. Although Boggs is still around as the 4th outfielder in the unlikely event they decide to go with Mastroianni. Florimon looks set at shortstop. Dozier is close to certain at second.  If we add those three to the other eight already set, that would leave six players competing for the two remaining spots - Butera, Escobar, Olmedo, Clement, Boggs, and Ramirez.   I covered that competition in an earlier post, "The Last Two Roster Spots".

Deduno's performance in the WBC has heated up the competition for the last two rotation spots.  The bullpen competition remains wide open for all appearances, with nine pitchers competing in addition to the guys who lose out in the rotation competition.

Five most overated Twins Prospects

I did a list of overrated prospects a couple years ago.

If you make a list of "overrated prospects", your chances of being right some of the time are pretty high. They were Kyle Gibson, Oswaldo Arcia, Joe Benson, Liam Hendricks and Dave Bromberg.  Most prospects are overrated since ceiling is always part of the evaluation and most players never reach their projected ceiling. I also did a list of underrated prospects, Chris Parmelee, Trevor Plouffe, Deolis Guerra, Carlos Guttierez  and Bobby Lanigan. That was February 2011 and two years later most of those are still up in the air.

Here is an updated list:

Miguel Sano

According to a local reporter today, "Sano is clearly on the fast track to get to Target Field in the not-too-distant future." There is actually little, if any evidence for this. It appears Sano will start the year at Fort Myers. How fast he will get to the big leagues is an open question.

Sano is a great prospect because of his power potential. But he strikes out a lot and has yet to play above low A ball. He hasn't shown that he can hit a curve ball. In short, he is a great prospect because he could be an outstanding major league power hitter. Those are rare. But there are a lot of players who had that potential who never achieved it, much  less doing so in the "not-too-distant-future" after their first year in a full season league.

Sano's expected time of arrival at one step per year is 2016. And most power hitters take longer than that to really achieve their potential. Justin Morneau is a good example. He was 25 when he broke out and he did not show Sano's problems with strike-outs early in his career. Morneau also hit for far better average.

Then there are the questions about his defense and how long he will stick at third base. If he ends up as an all or nothing power hitter at first base, he won't be anything really special.

Trevor May 

May came to the Twins along with Vance Worley in exchange for Ben Revere. A lot of people seem to think he was the key to that trade, but he looks more like a throw in. May is the guy who could make this a winning trade for the Twins. But it was the established young starter, Worley,  that made giving up Revere acceptable.

May struggled at AA last year. He is certainly still a good prospect, but he didn't look ready to make the jump to the big leagues. He may well start the year back at AA. But even if he starts at AAA, he is unlikely to contribute this year. In fact, he isn't all that likely to contribute next year either.

Eddie Rosario

The question is going to be whether he can adapt to playing the infield. The possibility that he will never be acceptable defensively in the middle infield is what makes him overrated.   Rosario does not really have the power to play a corner outfield spot in the big leagues. That's why the Twins are trying to move him to second base.  If that fails, its not clear he can make it anywhere else. 

Jose Berrios

Berrios has yet to show he can hold up as a starter over a full season and he is a relatively small right handed pitcher. He is mature for his age and impressing people with his stuff.  But I am always a bit suspicious of guys labeled "mature".The danger is that "mature" means that they are as good as they will get. Berrios is may be closer to ready than many 18 year olds, but he still isn't good enough to pitch in the big leagues. He needs to get better and that usually means adding maturity, not having it.  

Zack Jones

Jones was the 130th player taken in last June's draft. He dominated as a college kid pitching in rookie ball at Elizabethton and then got promoted to Beloit. He continued to strike out almost half the batters he faced. Unfortunately, of the 25 batters who put balls in play against him at Beloit, 9 got hits. The strikeouts have a bunch of people excited, but his inability to get batters out when they make contact is not a good sign.

I want to be clear that "overrated" is not really a prediction of failure. Sano is legitimately a top prospect worthy of excitement. He is just still a long way from the big leagues. Too far away for people to start talking about him as competition for Plouffe or anyone else. The same is true of the others to an even greater extent.

May is closest to the big leagues, but even he has a lot to prove. He has the stuff to be a major league pitcher, but he has yet to demonstrate he can use it well enough to succeed.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Twins won't Stash Hicks at AAA

There has been a lot of speculation about the Twins sending Aaron Hicks to AAA to start the season as some kind of budget management strategy. This is usually based on the idea that they can save money by delaying Hicks eligibility for arbitration and/or free agency. The logic of this gets explained here for Wil Myers, the Tampa Bay prospect recently sent to AAA, Wil Myers Super Two.

Unfortunately this fairly standard analysis misses the real problem with this. If Hicks opens with the Twins and stays in the big leagues, he will get paid something near the major league minimum for three years, then he will get arbitration for three years and then he will be a free agent. That assumes that the Twins don't negotiate a longer term contract with him during that time, as they did with Denard Span. That means Hicks will be eligible for arbitration for 2016 and a free agent for 2019.

The idea of sending Hicks to AAA to start the year is that they delay his eligibility for free agency until 2020 by having him spend part of this season at AAA. If he spends enough time at AAA, they can also delay his eligibility for arbitration until 2017.

The result is that they only pay major league minimum for whatever time Hicks spends in the majors this year. And they still get six years of minimum salaries and arbitration before Hicks becomes a free agent. In essence, they are trading whatever time he misses this year while in  the minors, for the 2020 season when Hicks will be 30 years old. Of course, this is a bit of a gamble since a lot can happen in seven years. If Hicks improves as he gets older, his arbitration salaries will be higher than they would have been. If the Twins negotiate a long term contract, he might very well have more leverage as an older, more established, player. So, while there are still the same six years, the financial costs of those six years may increase.

In short, there is not really any guaranteed financial advantage to delaying Hicks entry into the big leagues. Its a short-sighted strategy.  Which is likely the reason Terry Ryan says the Twins don't do this, didn't do it with Joe Mauer and won't do it with Aaron Hicks.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reminder, Pitchers Spring Training Stats Mean ...

Despite the widespread understanding that statistics in spring training are basically meaningless, some folks are starting to panic about the Twins starting pitching. Its not that we shouldn't be worried about the starting pitching, its that Worley, Pelfrey and Correia's spring trainings are the least of the worries.

Just as a reminder, Joe Nathan has got lit up last year (and the year before) and pitched well during the season.  By contrast, Liam Hendricks had a great spring training last year. He got five starts, each progressively worse, until he was sent to AAA in early May after lasting only 2 innings. Liriano and Blackburn both had great spring trainings as well. Those weren't reflected in their regular season results.

Here is how the pitching staff shapes up headed into the last 10 days. Each starter should get a couple more starts.

Set Starters

Those three off-season acquisitions are really the key to the Twins 2013. None of them have the stuff of aces. Worley and Pelfrey can be in the top half of the rotation. At best, Correia is a solid number four starter. But all three need to be successful in those roles for the Twins to have any chance of contending.

Fourth and Fifth Starters 

Diamond (DL)

If there are no setbacks, Diamond will be ready around the middle of April. The Twins will need a fifth starter at least once before then. DeVries, Hendricks, Walters and Hernandez have all been stretched out to multiple innings. DeVries and Hendricks appear to be the leading contenders for the last couple spots. Deduno's World Baseball Classic performance has made him a wild card. He is probably ahead of Walters and Hernandez, but it will still take a stumble by DeVries or Hendricks for him to win a spot in the rotation.

Established Bullpen

Swarzak (DL)

These are the only really established guys in the bullpen. Swarzak will not be ready for the start of the season and will need to get stretched out in order to be a long guy. That opens a spot for one of the guys in the starter competition to get a job in long relief.

Four Remaining spots


There are 10 pitchers (including three guys who lose the competition for the rotation). Hernandez, Deduno or  Walters could win a spot as long relievers. DeVries might also be in this competition if he doesn't win a rotation spot. I think Hendricks will be at AAA if he isn't starting.

That leaves seven pitchers competing for the remaining 3 spots. Burnett had a spot locked down but he needs to show he is ready between now and opening day. Likewise Fien.  Pressly has pitched well and probably has a spot if that continues.

That would leave no room for Robertson, Roenicke, Wood and Perdomo. Wood and Roenicke are out of options and would likely be lost if they aren't on the roster. Robertson is a lefty specialist who would free Duensing for longer middle relief roles. Perdomo is on the minor league roster already, so he may be the longest of long shots.

The problem here is that it doesn't really look like anyone has forced themselves onto the roster. That doesn't bode well for the bullpen this season. But there is a lot of depth and the final decisions will likely be difficult and may not get made until the very end of spring training. The pitcher's relative statistics today won't have anything to do with it. It will be how they are pitching a week from now.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Competition for 2013's Twins Youngest Player

Last year the youngest player who appeared with the Twins was Liam Hendricks, followed closely by Educardo Escobar. Both were 23 years old. Neither one, however, spent the entire year with the Twins. Alex Burnett was the youngest player who was on the roster the entire season. He turned 25 last July.

This spring there are five players competing for spots on the opening day roster who could be this year's youngest player. From youngest to oldest:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Last Two Roster Spots

The Twins are still a week or more away from final roster decisions. Some of those decisions are "who" should play a position with center field, shortstop, rotation and bullpen competitions. But the final roster decisions will be made as much on "what" position the players can play.

In terms of positions,

9 position players
1 utility infielder
1 fourth outfielder
5 starting pitchers
7 relief pitchers

That leaves openings for two additional players. The options appear to be a third catcher, a second utility infielder, a fifth outfielder and a DH/1b (aka "bat off the bench").

Butera is the only candidate for third catcher. Clement is the only candidate for 1b/DH, although the fifth outfielder could also serve as "bat off the bench". That makes Boggs, Ramirez and Benson his competition based on how well they hit.

If they go with a second utility infielder, Escobar and Olmedo are really the only two candidates. If Dozier isn't the starting second baseman, he will likely start the year at AAA. The same is true of Florimon in the unlikely event he lost the starting shortstop spot.

Here is the current status of the competition:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Two Weeks to Go - Ten Players to Watch

Up until now players have been working themselves into shape and shaking off the winter's rust. From here on out the competition will get a lot tougher as the major league players are in playing form and ready to focus on the season. The guys who have shown promise and are still fighting for jobs will need to prove themselves. 

 Here are ten players to watch over the last two weeks of spring training.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Competition Update Thursday 3/14

The Twins sent Kyle Gibson to the minor leagues, ending for now the question of whether he is ready to pitch in the big leagues.  It would not be a huge surprise if we don't see him in the big leagues at all this year. He is going to be on some work limits this year as he builds his durability. Whether he will get to the point that he is ready before he hits his limits is an open question. But it seems unlikely they will be willing to add to his work load with a September callup.

With Thielbar sent to the minor leagues, Robertson is the only lefty still in competition for bullpen spot. That gives him a slight advantage, but it won't guarantee him a spot. It looks less likely that Swarzak will be ready to start the season, which will open a spot for another bullpen guy.

It also sounds like Escobar is very likely to be on the roster, either as a starter or as a second utility guy along with Carroll.  Dozier is still probably the favorite as the regular second base. Benson increasingly looks like a long shot for center field. Even if  he settles in and starts hitting the next couple weeks he doesn't really fit as a leadoff guy the way Hicks or Mastroianni do.

Here is the current status of the competition:

Monday, March 11, 2013

Competition Update

This is where things stand right now in the roster competition. We are headed into the final three weeks of spring training. As I have said before, very little of what has happened so far will determine who ends up on the roster.

If Aaron Hicks can carry over his impressive spring training to the next three weeks, he will likely be in the lineup in center field on opening day. But if he can't and starts looking like a kid who hasn't played above AA, his performance the last few weeks won't mean much. Benson is the flip of that. He has looked lost until now, but if he turns it around no one will pay much attention to the difficult start. If neither one is ready, that will open the door to Mastroianni as center fielder and create an opening for one of the other 4th outfield candidates.

Florimon looks like close to a lock at shortstop. He started out as the favorite and continues to show the mature glove the Twins were looking for. That is unlikely to change.

Dozier is still a favorite to be on the roster. His defense at second is improving, the question will be whether they think he can hit well enough. Escobar is his main competition. His glove plays anywhere. Like Dozier, the question is his bat. They could both end up on the roster, they could both end up getting at bats at AAA. That would give an opening to Olmedo as the utility infielder.

Whether the Twins will carry a third catcher is still an open question. If they do, Butera is it. But Escobar is apparently catching some batting practice to be available as an emergency catcher and they may decide they want another bat on the bench instead.

Four spots in the rotation are pretty much set. Gibson and Hendricks are the two guys seen as having the highest upsides, but so far neither has proved he is ready to pitch in the big leagues. DeVries and Walters have both been pitching well and are getting stretched out as starters. Deduno had a good start in the WBC, including no walks which have been his undoing in the past. Hernandez is a long shot, but has pitched well so far. The competition for that last spot is really wide open at this point. If Diamond isn't ready by April 7th, there are two spots to fill.

The bullpen is also wide open. Perking, Burton and Duensing look set. Burnett has not pitched well and will need to turn things around since he still has an option left and could be sent to AAA without exposing him to waivers. Swarzak will likely have a spot if he can get ready by opening day. Fien remains a likely member of the bullpen.  Assuming those six are healthy and pitching well,  there is one more spot in the bullpen. It  is wide open. Pressly, Wood and Roenicke are all guys who would need to clear waivers to be sent to the minors. Thielbar and Robertson are both lefties.

Essentially not all that much has changed. But it will quite quickly now. Every game is going to get progressively more important for players on the bubble.

Roster Update

We are moving into the last three weeks of spring training and the Twins have sent a number of players over to the minor league camp. None of those players were ever really serious contenders for spots on the opening day roster. Some were young prospects with a big futures and a few were AAA depth invited to camp to be evaluated for their skills as backups if needed at the major league level.


Alex Myer - Myer impressed everyone, as expected. He arrived in trade for Denard Span. He throws hard and has decent control and is seen as a potential future ace. He hasn't pitched above A ball.

Trevor May - May is another guy the Twins acquired in the off-season. He was part of the Ben Revere trade. May also pitched well. He pitched at AA last year and will likely start there again.

Michael Tonkin - Tonkin has been a hard throwing reliever in the Twins system for a while. He was added to the roster last fall. He hasn't pitched above A-ball.

Brett Hermsen - Hermsen was the Twins minor league pitcher of the year last year at AA New Britain. He got hit hard this spring.

Danny Santana - Is a very talented shortstop who has not played above A ball. He was added to the roster last fall.

Chris Herrmann - Herrmann is a catcher/outfielder who had a brief call-up from AA last fall as a backup when injuries hit the catching staff. He caught in the AFL last fall. His catching skills are still raw, but his bat is a lot closer to ready.

Josmil Pinto - Pinto is another catcher who was added to the roster last fall. He is two years younger than Herrmann and reached AA last year for about 50 at bats. He looks like a solid prospect both at and behind the plate.

Lester Oliveros - Oliveros is hurt and unlikely to pitch until August. He came to the Twin last summer in trade for Delmon Young.

AAA Backups -

Esmerling Vasquez - Vasquez pitched for the Twins last fall. He was signed to pitch at AAA and it didn't do anything in spring training to change that plan.

Nick Blackburn - Blackburn is injured and unlikely to pitch until May.

Bryan Augenstein - Augenstein signed as a free agent during the off-season. He  pitched only one game this spring before coming down injured.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

2013 - The 2006 Draft Comes of Age

There are five players from the Twins 2006 draft in spring training with the Twins. None of them have really established themselves as major league players yet.

Chris Parmelee, Joe Benson, Tyler Robertson were all among the top 100 players taken in the 2006 draft. All three were high school players. There are also a couple college kids taken in that draft in camp.  Brian Dinkelman was the 246 player taken and Anthony Slama was 1176. Danny Valencia was also from this draft.

Parmelee looks to be set as the Twins regular right fielder. He started last year at first base for the Twins while Justin Morneau was still recovering from his concussion. He bounced back and forth between AAA and the majors after that.

Robertson also split last year between the majors and AAA. He is a strong candidate for the bullpen as a lefty specialist.

Benson is competing for the center field spot. Dinkelman and Slama are longshots to make the roster but both could see some time in the majors later in the season as AAA backups.

This ought to give people a more realistic idea of actual expected arrival of high school players taken in the last couple drafts. Trevor Plouffe was taken out of high school in 2004 is also just now establishing himself as a major league player. Anthony Swarzak was another high school kid taken in that draft. Glenn Perkins was taken out of college.

On the other end of the scale, Ben Revere was taken out of high school in 2007 and Aaron Hicks in 2008. If Buxton and Berrios do as well, we should see them competing for jobs in 2017. If they turn out like the high school players from the 2006 draft, they will start to establish themselves in 2019.

Of course there is also Joe Mauer, who was off the scale. He was drafted in 2001 and was in the big leagues 3 years later in 2004. But he is an extreme exception. Its not impossible for Buxton or Berrios to do that, but it isn't very likely.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Prospect Watching

The minor league spring training has started. We can expect some of the guys in major league camp to get moved over in the next couple days. That process might be a bit slower than usual this year with all the players gone for the WBC. Here are some things to watch:

1) Where do the Twins two new pitching prospects end up?

Both Trevor May and Alex Myer project to start the year at AA. If either one starts the season higher or lower than that it will tell us something about how ready the Twins think they might be to help at the big league level.

2) Where do the guys drafted in 2012 start the year?

Byron Buxton (HS-CF), Jose Berrios(HS-P), Luke Bard (C-P), Mason Melotakis (C-P), JT Chargois  (C-P) and Adam Walker (C-OF) were among the top 100 players taken. The Twins usually start most college pitchers at low-A with pitcher they think is advanced starting at Fort Myers. High School players usually start the year in extended spring training. but I would expect both Berrios and Buxton to start the year at Cedar Rapids.   Luke Bard is the only guy who looks likely to start the year at Fort Myers as a starter. When drafted the plan for Melotakis and Chargois was to initially convert them to starters. If the Twins decide to keep them in the bullpen, they may start the year at Fort Myers and move up quickly. Walker should start at Cedar Rapids.

3) Who are starters, who are in the bullpen?

In general, the best pitchers are in the rotation to give them the most opportunities. Usually they aren't shifted to the bullpen until AA, AAA or even the major leagues.  There are exceptions, but in general the rotations will be filled with the best pitching prospects even if they lack the pitches to start in the big leagues.

4) Who moves up to AA?

The jump from A to AA is considered the largest in the minor leagues. 2011 first round choice Levi Michael,  Danny Santana and Angel Morales are all guys who should move to AA. Santana looks certain, but neither Michael nor Morales showed a lot of offense at Fort Myers so they may be held back. Morales, once a top prospect, is starting to run out of chances. Pat Dean is another guy who needs to make this jump or he may not be around at all.

Competition Update - The Real Competition Begins

Infield Competition

The biggest surprise here may be that Escobar. He has shown a plus glove at every position and has a good chance to make the team as a utility infielder.  It would appear that Florimon has all but nailed down the starting shortstop spot. The Twins sound comfortable with Dozier's defense at second base. The issue may will be whether his bat holds up the next three weeks.   Morneau and Carroll were the only two infielders set going into spring training, with Carroll the fallback at second if Dozier doesn't win the position.

Among the longshots are Colabello and Clement may get a shot as a backup at first and bat off the bench. Sobolewski is also looking to be a bat off the bench and defensive backup for Plouffe at third.  Olamedo is in the utility infielder competition, but looks more like AAA backup material. 

Outfield Competition
So far, Hicks is making trading away Span and Revere look good. He is clearly the leading candidate for center field. Mastroianni looks to be the 4th outfielder. Benson has struggled with the bat so far. But these last three weeks are really the test.

Boggs, Thomas are longshots for the 4th outfield spot if both Hicks and Benson start at AAA, leaving Mastroianni the starter in center. Ramirez and Dinkelman are even longer shots for 5th outfielder and bat off the bench.


Gibson has struggled his last couple times out and may not be ready to pitch in the big leagues yet. Diamond is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season on April 1st, but its possible he will be ready by April 7th when the Twins will need their 5th starter. Harden and Perez look like they will not be ready to start the season either.  Pelfrey looks healthy but he is coming back less than a year after Tommy John surgery.

Liam Hendricks is probably the favorite for an opsn spot. DeVries and Walters have both pitched well in their recent appearances, but are longshots if there is only one spot open.. Deduno, who is pitching in the WBC, is another possibility.

Pressly, the Twins rule 5 draft choice, has done very well so far. But the bullpen competition remains wide open. Perkins, Burton and Duensing are set. Burnett and Fien will need to pitch themselves out of jobs, but that is not impossible. Wood and Roenicke are out of options. Robertson, Hernandez and Theilbar are lefties. Perdomo, Slama, Augenstein and Guerra look like longshots. Guerra was at the WBC, but is returning to camp because of an injury.

We are heading into the final three weeks, which are all that really matter. Until now players have been getting themselves into playing shape. The real competition is just beginning.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Infield Competition Update

I did a story at the start of spring training about the infield competition. Not much has really changed since then except that it is more likely the Twins will carry 6 or even 7 infielders since it sounds like they may go with only two catchers.

Here is where the infield competition stands right now.

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

Florimon (ss)

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

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

Beresford (2b, ss)
Romero (3b)
Santana (ss)

I think Florimon has all but locked up the shortstop spot. He went into spring training as the favorite and it doesn't look like anyone will displace him. He would have to stumble badly as the competition gets stiffer.

Dozier is trying to win the starting second base spot. He has received some praise for his progress there from both Tom Kelly and Gardy.  Escobar may still be in the competition for second and shortstop, but is more likely to win a spot as a utility guy. Apparently they are even having him catch a little. Carroll will be either the starting second baseman or a utility guy. So, in some ways, Dozier and Escobar are competing against one another. Although it is possible they could keep both. Olmedo may have played himself a little more into the utility competition, but looks like a longshot.

Sobolewski is a good defensive third baseman. He has hit well enough so far to be used as a pinch hitter, so he might win a spot as Plouffe's defensive backup and bat off the bench if that continues. But more likely he will be kept at AAA for that purpose.

Clement and Colabello are first basemen whose primary role would be a bat off the bench and occasional relief for Morneau. Both are longshots. Colabello is playing in the WBC, as is Morneau. So Clement should get a lot of chances at first base for the next couple weeks.

Romero is MIA as a result of a visa problem. If he gets that worked out he may still get some at bats with the major league team when he arrives. But he has likely lost any chance he had to make the roster out of spring training.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Competition Update after Monday's Game

Infield Competition
Dozier went 1-5 and helped turn 5 double plays. Florimon went 1-3 at shortstop.  Sobolewski went 1-1 after replacing Plouffe at third for the second straight day.

Outfield Competition
Hicks went 2-5 in center with a home run, Benson went 1-3 in left. Thomas replaced Parmelee in right and went 0-2. Boggs replaced Benson and went 1-1 with a home run.

Pop off the Bench
Dinkelman started at first and went 0-2. Clement replaced him and  went 0-1.

DeVries pitched two perfect innings, striking out two. Walters pitched two innings and gave up one hit.

Pressly pitched two innings and gave up one hit and walked two.

Hicks keeps solidifying his hold on the center field spot. If he continues to perform this well as the competition improves, he is a lock to be the starting center fielder. Florimon continues to get most of the starts at shortstop.  Dozier made the plays at second, a new position for him.

DeVries did well again. So did Walters. Neither one is at the top of the starter list, but with questions about Gibson, Hendricks and Diamond, either or both of them could start the year in the rotation.

This was probably Pressly's roughest outing so far. But he got out of the inning without giving up a run.

Boggs continued to keep himself in the picture for the 4th or 5th outfield spot.

Competition Update after Sunday's Game

Infield Competition
Dozier went 1-3 starting at second and Escobar 1-1 after replacing him. Sobolewski went 1-1 with an RBI  after replacing Plouffe at third. Olmedo played shortstop and went 1-4.

Outfield Competition
Hicks went 0-3 in center, Benson went 0-3 in right. Thomas replaced Hicks and went 0-1. Boggs replaced Benson and went 0-1. Ramirez went 0-4 in left.

Pop off the Bench
Clement played first and went 1-2. Dinkelman came in at DH as a pinch hitter and went 0-1.

Pelfrey went 3 innings, giving up a hit and a walk.

Burnett gave up 3 hits and run in one inning. Burton gave up 3 runs on 4 hits and a walk in one inning. Fien gave up 1 run on 1 hit. May went and inning and walked two. Hermsen gave up 2 runs on a hit batter and a home run.

Pelfrey's start was encouraging. No one in the bullpen shined, but Burnett, Burton and Fien would need to continue to struggle to lose their spots. May and Hermsen are slated as starters in the minor leagues. The guys competing for infield spots all got hits. Olmedo spending the whole game at shortstop may indicate he is getting some real consideration for a roster spot.  No one in the outfield helped themselves with the bat.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Predicted Opening Day Roster - March 3rd

I created a predicted roster for the Twins as spring training was opening. We now have a couple weeks of games behind us, as well as new information from spring training camp. I have been doing daily updates of the competition, but I thought it would be interesting to see how things look right now.

To be clear, this is a prediction that will almost certainly change, although my opening day lineup hasn't changed at all since last time.

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, Gibson


Bullpen: Perkins, Burton, Duensing, Burnett, Fien, Pressly, Wood
Fielders: Mastroianni, Escobar, Dozier, Butera

DL: Swarzak

On the edge: Hendricks, Benson, Roenicke, Robertson, Thielbar, Boggs

The biggest change is Gibson as the 5th starter.  DeVries, who I had as the 5th starter, is getting his first start this coming week. But I think Hendricks and Gibson will have to show they aren't ready for him to be considered.

Pressly replaced Robertson in the bullpen. Dozier replaced Sobolewski on the bench.

Competition Update After Saturday's Game

Infield Competition
Dozier went 0-1 after replacing Carroll at second. Escobar 1-4 playing the whole game at third. Florimon went 1-2 at shortstop with Olmedo going 1-1 after replacing him.

Outfield Competition
Benson went 1-3 with one strikeout in center before being lifted for a pinch hitter. Boggs went 0-1 after replacing Willingham in left. Dinkelman went 0-1 after replacing Parmelee in right. 

Pop off the Bench
Colabello went 0-1 with a walk and a strikeout after replacing Morneau at first.

Gibson only went 1.2 innings before hitting his pitch count. He gave up a walk and 3 hits, including a solo home run, while striking out three. Vasquez also went 1.2 inning in his late relief appearance and 2 hits, 2 walks and a run.

Thielbar pitched 1.1 perfect innings and Guerra pitched one.

Gibson demonstrated he is not a lock to be ready for the rotation, but there is a lot of spring training to go.

Guerra probably helped himself but he is now off to the WBC, along with Colabello and a bunch of  players who aren't really in the competitions this spring.  It will be interesting to see where those to land when the get back. Neither one is very likely to win a spot this spring.

Escobar continues to play all three infield positions. There is a report today that Escobar will also catch some bullpens in order to prepare as an emergency catcher. That ought to make Drew Butera a bit nervous. Its probably also an indication that Escobar remains a long shot to win the starting shortstop position over Florimon. 

This was Carroll's second game in a row at second base. He has now played four games there and one at third. He has yet to appear at shortstop. If Gardenhire isn't entirely comfortable with Carroll at shortstop, that improves the chances of Escobar and, maybe, Olmeda.  They are competing for the 4th or 5th infielder spots, depending on whether Dozier is on the roster at second base.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Kyle Gibson Gives Reality Check

Kyle Gibson today didn't make it two innings before hitting his pitch count, reportedly set at 50. This ought to be a reality check for some of the overenthusiastic fans, bloggers and sports writers. The Twins are obviously very high on Gibson. And Gibson has shown the talent to warrant that enthusiasm. He has great stuff, even when he struggled today he struck out three batters.

The problem is that stuff is only one part of pitching. We all ought to have caught on to that after watching Francisco Liriano. He had great stuff. The problem was not that he was a head case. The problem was he is inconsistent, making way too many mistakes. When he was not making mistakes he looked like superman, but those days were too rare to fulfill the talent people saw in him.

Gibson doesn't need to show he has talent, he needs to show that he can use it consistently. There is a lot more of spring training for him to do that. But unless he can be consistent and use his pitches efficiently enough to pitch deep into games, he is not going to win a spot in the rotation. Or, at least, he shouldn't.

Competition Update after Friday's game

Infield Competition
Florimon started at shortstop and got a 2 run double. Sobolewski replaced Plouffe and drove in a run.

Outfield Competition
Hicks played the entire game in center field, going 1-4 with a run and an RBI. Boggs and Thomas shared right field and neither one got a hit. In left it was Ramirez and Dinkelman. Ramirez went 1-3 and scored a run, while striking out twice. Dinkelman was 0-1 with a walk.

Pop off the Bench
Clement started at DH and went 1-4, with a walk. Colabello went 2-2 and drove in a run as Morneau's replacement at first base.

Worley pitched two innings. None of the other starting candidates pitched.

The relievers all pitched one inning each. Roenicke gave up 3 hits and a run in his inning. Pressly gave up a hit. Wood got a strikeout. Robertson got 2 strikeouts. Hernandez struck out one and walked one. Tonkin pitched a perfect inning. Perdomo gave up two hits, one of them a two run homer.

Terry Ryan has said he doesn't even look at box scores or stats when evaluating players in spring training. But as fans those,  and reports from sports writers, are about all we have to go on.

That said, Pressly continues to get good results and Roenicke got hit again. Wood pitched well. Those are the guys who were in the game against Miami's starters.  Robertson had his best outing so far, but faced the bottom of the order and only one right-handed hitter. Hernandez and Tonkin both pitched well, while Perdomo struggled against the substitutes.

Hicks continues to do well in center field. Benson is playing there today and we will see if he plays the entire game as well. The competition for 4th and, possibly, 5th outfielder didn't change much with yesterday's performances.

Colabello continues to hit. He will leave for the World Baseball Classic this weekend.  It will be interesting to see whether he is back in camp after that.  But he has certainly not hurt himself with his performance so far. The other pure bat off the bench, Clement, should now have a lot of chances relieving Parmelee at first base with both Morneau and Colabello gone to the WBC. It will be interesting to see what he does with them.

Nothing much happened in the infield competition. Florimon got a hit. Dozier and Escobar didn't play. Carroll continues to look like the class of the field with the bat, but whether he has a regular position or is a heavily used utility guy will depend on the play of the young players.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Rotation Starting to Take Shape

Correia struggled yesterday and Hendricks pitched well yesterday. Deduno and Hermsen both struggled in a "B" game while Myer pitched well. May and DeVrie both got innings out of the bullpen today and yesterday Walters pitched an inning.

The fact that DeVries has made two one inning outings would indicate at the very least he is not high on the list of potential starters. Same with Walters.

So the roation is starting to take shape. Three spots are set. Once Diamond is healthy, there are four spots set. That's what everyone expected going into spring training and nothing has changed that.

But the competition for the 5th spot in the rotation appears to be between Gibson and Hendricks. At least they are at the top of the list. Which makes sense given their potential and minor league performance. Of course there is still a lot of spring training to go.  Perez and Harden were supposed to be under consideration for the rotation once they are healthy, although both seem to be more likely to win spots in the bullpen.

Worley makes his second start today, but here is how things shape up with the rotation after yesterday's game.



Diamond (DL)
Harden (DL)

Perez (DL)

Deduno (WBC)
Martis (WBC)


Blackburn (DL)
Swarzak (DL)

Competition Update After Thursday's Game

Infield Competition
Escobar started at shortstop and went 0-3 with an RBI. Dozier started at second and went 0-1 with two walks and a run. Olmedo went 0-1 backing up Plouffe at third.

Outfield Competition
Mastroianni started in center and went 2-3, scoring a run. Thomas replaced him and went 1-2 with a run and one strikeout. Dinkelman went 1-1 as Parmelee's backup. Herrmann went 0-1 as Willingham's backup in left.

Pop off the Bench
Clement went 0-1 backing up Morneau.

Hendriks went 3 innings and gave up four hits but no runs and got two strike outs. DeVries struck out 2 in one inning.
Burnett went an inning, giving up 2 hits. Fien pitched one perfect inning. Slama gave up a hit and a walk in an inning. Guerra also gave up a hit and a walk that resulted in a walk.


Burnett had his second rough outing. Fien looks like he is picking up where he left off last year. A good sign. Hendriks is again showing well in spring training. This is DeVries second one inning appearance so it is looking like he is being set up for the bullpen rather than the rotation. Mastroianni had a good day, although he pulled hamstring.

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