Roster Options for 2013
by, 12-21-2012 at 05:59 PM (1097 Views)
There is strangely now much more uncertainty about the 2013 roster than there was for 2012. A little over a month ago it seemed like things were clear-cut. There was a 50/50 chance that Span would be traded, but otherwise it looked like much of the 25-man roster was pretty clear.
In the past few weeks, the Twins have traded Span (for prospect Alex Meyer), traded Ben Revere for Vance Worley (and prospect Trevor May), signed Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey and Rich Harden, and selected Ryan Pressly in the rule 5 draft. This a four-person shakeup of the roster, but the loss of Span and Revere creates further question marks. There are then three big areas of doubt for the roster, and in rather tragic-comic fashion they are starting pitching, the outfield, and middle infield.
Scott Diamond and Vance Worley are clear locks at the top of the rotation. Whether or not they should be at the top of any rotation is another matter, but a charitable view is that one could legitimately hold down the second spot and the other a third spot on a competitive team. We can all wait and see if the Twins add Shaun Marcum to make the front three fully legitimate. After those two, it would seem obvious that Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey are next in line, given that they are making $4.5 and $4 million in 2013, respectively. Since Nick Blackburn is making $5.5 million as well, that might mean that Nick rounds out the rotation. That's an expensive 3-5 part of the rotation given that they would all seem to be 5th or spot starters. Aside from this, Liam Hendriks would seem to be next in line since he is the only prospect totally ready. He struggled mightily in 2012, but he was substantially better in the last two months. He is also someone who is smart about pitching and has good enough stuff to adapt adequately. Then there is the most recent addition, Rich Harden, who is a walking injury and is coming off rotator cuff surgery. If healthy for 100 innings this year, Harden should be pretty valuable.
After Harden, it is a mess of pitchers: Cole DeVries, Sam Deduno, and PJ Walters, who all served time with the Twins in 2012. The first two were decent enough as fifth starters, and Walters showed glimpses of that capability as well.
Then there is Kyle Gibson, who is going to be facing limited innings. He is very likely going to be limited to the 140-150 range. It doesn't make sense to start the season with him as a starter in that case.
The Twins may base their decision around the $14 million given to their fifth starters and start the season with those pitchers at 3-5 in the rotation. Attrition might hit one of them and Hendriks does not return to AAA but rather to the Twins. Attrition could hit two of them and Hendriks and Harden/Deduno/DeVries/Walters are a part of the starting five. What the Twins should not resort to is bringing Brian Duensing or Anthony Swarzak into the rotation. Duensing is very valuable as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen, and Swarzak is bad as a starter and marginally adequate as a long reliever.
The Twins may be signing Freddy Garcia in the next few days. Nothing really changes above, except added frustration at wasting money on 5th-starter ceiling pitchers.
Josh Willingham is the lock in left field barring any sudden trade in the remainder of the offseason. And I think it is a good idea to not trade him yet, as his power numbers shouldn't fall off too much in 2013 and his trade value goes up, especially around the deadline. Darin Mastroianni and Chris Parmelee may round out the starting OF and this means a below-average OF defensively which is a stark contrast from the 2012 team. However, Mastroianni was the 4th OF, and if he starts the Twins would need to add somebody to serve in that bench role.
Aaron Hicks is drawing attention as a potential CF instead of Mastroianni and he deserves this attention. He has been ready defensively for MLB for a few years and his bat is developing. He is still young and could obviously use AAA seasoning.
Joe Benson would have been an obvious choice for this CF position, but the 2012 season was a debacle for the talented prospect. He dealt with an injury and needs time at Rochester to get it together.
An overlooked possibility is for the Twins to start Mastroianni at CF and simply call-up Wilkin Ramirez to be the 4th OF. Ramirez didn't play any CF in 2012, but played there a bit in 2011 and a lot in 2010 when he split time between the minor league AAA Atlanta and Detroit affiliates. This would mean not spending money on a washed-up veteran and rewarding a minor league player who was very successful in 2012.
In 396 plate appearances for Rochester last year, Ramirez's line was .276/.316/.451. While he obviously strikes out too much (97) and walks too little (18), he has significant power (15 homers and 18 doubles). He is Darin Mastroianni minus a bit of defensive range and speed, but with more power.
Brandon Boggs is another likely possibility as he has experience in all three OF positions and also posted a .767 OPS in AAA last year. He is Wilkin Ramirez with better plate discipline and less power.
It would interesting to see if the Twins goes this route and see how Hicks, Benson, and Oswaldo Arcia do in AAA to begin the season, at least until June.
The Twins experimented with their middle infield in 2012. Jamey Carroll was above average defensively at short but started the season struggling at the plate. Alexi Casilla was above average at second base, but was bad at the plate and is gone, signing with Baltimore.
The Twins then made a series of bad decisions regarding prospect Brian Dozier. They called him up even though he was not successful in limited time at Rochester. He started out of the gates well enough, demonstrating some pop and good fundamentals in the field. But then he crashed. The Twins stuck with him for several weeks after he started to stink for some reason and never bothered to move him over to second base and Carroll back to shortstop. Eventually he was demoted and Pedro Florimon was given a chance at shortstop. The Twins mysteriously didn't bring Dozier back in September. He could have played second base during that time. I think the Twins really should have tried out all possible combinations of middle infield alignment between Florimon, Dozier, Carroll, and Eduardo Escobar. Unfortunately it was almost completely Florimon-Carroll, with Escobar filling in some at second base.
Florimon was flashy at shortstop but made a number of errors on routine plays. His bat was also pretty bad, adding to the offensive woes the middle infield went through in 2012.
Looking forward to 2013, it would seem like the same four players are going to be in contention, with only three likely to make the roster. Jamey Carroll surprised people with his above average play at SS and I believe he should return to that position. This is also due to the fact that the Twins needs somebody besides Mauer at the top of their lineup to get on base and Carroll had a strong second half of the 2012 season.
I would give second base to Dozier who definitely is going to be a better offensive performer than Florimon. If Dozier can improve defensively at an easier position this might also help his performance at the plate.
I would have Florimon take over the utility infielder role and keep Escobar at Rochester to try to develop some kind of offense.
Odds and Ends
Other things I would like to see the Twins do include giving the long relief role to Rule 5 draft pick Ryan Pressly and sending Anthony Swarzak off in some trade for a low-A hard thrower. Swarzak is competent and some teams might consider him as a starter. Pressly is nothing special but he just turned 24 and is over two years younger than Scott Diamond (not to mention three years younger than Swarzak). It isn't as though the Twins are without long relievers from the mess of 5th-6th starters they have right now in the system in case Pressly is terrible. He might be worth the very low risk and may improve for 2014.
I also would like the Twins to give up on the Drew Butera era and add Chris Herrmann to the roster. Herrmann is not a great prospect, but rather a good one and that works as a catcher. Furthermore, he can also play the corner outfield positions and would serve as the 5th outfielder. He isn't going to be a starting catcher anyway, so the "playing every day" mantra doesn't really apply. His adequate defense and great plate discipline make him much more deserving of a roster spot than that one other guy.
Finally, there is one bench spot left and I would like to see what Chris Colabello can do. There isn't much time to wait and see with him in AAA. I would understand if the Twins went with Escobar to start the season to see Colabello hit in Rochester, but he is getting old, is peaking, and has power. His 2012 performance in AA coupled with his complete dominance of the Mexican Winter League earns him this reward. And . . . it makes for a good story and someone interesting to watch in 2013.
Jamey Carroll, SS (RH)
Joe Mauer, C (LH)
Josh Willingham, LF (RH)
Justin Morneau, 1B (LH)
Trevor Plouffe, 3B (RH)
Ryan Doumit, DH (SH)
Chris Parmelee, RF (LH)
Brian Dozier, 2B (RH)
Darin Mastroianni, CF (RH)
Wilkin Ramirez OF (RH)/Brandon Boggs OF (SH), Pedro Florimon MI (SH), Chris Herrmann C/LF/RF (LH), Chris Colabello 1B/emergency 3B (RH)
Scott Diamond (LH)
Vance Worley (RH)
Kevin Correia (RH)
Liam Hendriks (RH)
Rich Harden (RH)*
Ryan Pressly (LR-RH)
Tyler Robertson (MR-LH)
Anthony Slama (!!!!) (MR-RH) **
Casey Fien (MR-RH)
Brian Duensing (MI-LH)
Jared Burton (SU-RH)
Glen Perkins (LH-CL)
* Pelfrey is likely not ready to start the season. Harden could lose to any number of other pitchers, of course. But if he's healthy that is very good.
** It's Slama's time, and Alex Burnett has one option year left. Burnett needs to work on things and should do it in Rochester in high-leverage setup situations.
So this concludes a very updated blueprint that is more in touch with reality. The Twins are going to face some trade opportunities and prospects knocking on the door in 2013 so this season is definitely going to be a work-in-progress and the 25-man roster will look very different at the end of the season.