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  • Roster Speculation: The Position Players

    Well, that was brutal. Instead, let's focus on something else: tonight marked the start of the Twins second turn through the rotation, and their seventh spring training game. The roles for players are clearer as are the spring training battles. So what do several Twins positional hopefuls need to do to make it to Chicago for Opening Day?

    THE LINEUP
    Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, Kurt Suzuki, Alex Presley
    What they need to do: Stay healthy.


    Pedro Florimon
    What he needs to do: Get healthy. For what it's worth, he took grounders with the rest of the infielders today. He looks like he's getting close to returning.


    Jason Kubel
    What he needs to do: Stay healthy and show he's not completely done. He hasn't done the latter yet, but there's a lot of time.


    Oswaldo Arcia
    What he needs to do: Last week, I would have said just be normal. As in, don't struggle too much, don't get too angry, don't go too cray-cray. The job in right field is his job to lose, but he can lose it. (Boy, can he lose it.)


    That was last week. Today, I'm not so sure. If Arcia does NOT win that spot, he will not be on the bench. He'll be in AAA.


    That takes care of he starting nine. If the Twins carry 13 position players, which would seem likely, it leaves four spots. Interestingly, assistant GM Rob Antony wasn't committing to that yesterday, saying "it hasn't been determined."


    If they only carry three spots, those spots are going to a backup infielder, catcher and outfielder. More to the point - a backup shortstop, catcher and center fielder, since there is nobody in the starting nine that can back up those spots. Keeping that in mind, let's look at some other names:


    BACKUP INFIELDERS
    Eduardo Escobar
    What he needs to do: He's the default choice, because of his age and flexibility. Bartlett hasn't demonstrated that he can play third base, and the Twins haven't tried him there this year yet, either. Doug Bernier can play second base, shortstop and third base like Escobar, but he's also eight years older than him.


    Doug Bernier
    What he needs to do: Escobar would need to get hurt or do something else for the organization to completely lose confidence in him.


    Jason Bartlett
    What he needs to do: First, he needs the Twins to carry at least 13 position players because if he's the shortstop, the Twins are going to need to also bring up either Escobar, Bernier, Deibinson Romero or Brandon Waring to back up third base.


    However, He makes a somewhat intriguing 13th player in that he can be a backup infielder AND could theoretically be a bat off of the bench. It's not totally clear the 34-year-old can do either, but he might at least be able to get on base. He also looks pretty good as a possible substitution for Florimon late in the game.


    Chris Colabello
    What he needs to do: There might be a couple of ways he makes the team:
    At DH - He needs two of Kubel, Arcia and Parmelee to look very, very bad while he looks very, very good. Even then, I'm not sure it's enough. He likely needs two of them to be unable to play, frankly.


    He makes another interesting 13th man candidate. With as many left-handed bats as the Twins have, it makes sense to have a right-handed bat that they can plug in occasionally. To win that spot, he needs to look quite a bit more appetizing than Jason Bartlett and Wilkin Ramirez, who we'll get to in a second.


    James Beresford, Deibinson Romero, Brandon Waring, etc.
    What they need to do: There needs to be a series of small miracles.


    It was interesting that Bereford started tonight at second base when most of the other starters were going to be in the Opening Day lineup. Dozier got to sit because he made the long trip to Jupiter yesterday, but that doesn't explain why Escobar and Bernier weren't there. Beresford also played third base yesterday. He would likely be option C as the utility infielder.


    BACKUP OUTFIELDERS
    Darin Mastroianni
    What he needs to do: Ideally, he would show he still has the wheels, if not the instincts, to play center field. He would show he has the wheels to do something when he's on base. He would show that he can get on base.


    But he doesn't need to do any of these things. He just needs to play center field passably enough that nobody panics. The center field situation is petty dire until Hicks finds himself or Buxton charges up here. Mastroianni is the default fix for now.


    Wilkin Ramirez
    What he needs to do: Ramirez is an interesting contrast to Mastroianni. He's less of a center fielder, but more of a hitter. If Mastroianni can't outplay him defensively, he could theoretically be the backup "center fielder," though I'm not totally sure the Twins would want to do that to him. He did play several games there for the Twins last year.


    But Ramirez has another way to stick on the roster if Mastroianni beats him out. He could be the 13th man. He's right-handed, has some power and gives the Twins a fifth outfielder. His primary competition would be Colabello.


    Aaron Hicks
    What he needs to do: Defensively, he's superior to everyone on this list including the starter Alex Presley. But the Twins would need to be desperately worried about Mastroianni's and Ramirez' defense to limit Hicks' playing time to that of a backup (or short-side of the platoon) in the majors. They have to want him playing every day in AAA.


    Chris Parmelee
    What he needs to do: Parmelee's best chance to make this roster is probably to beat out Kubel or Arcia at a spot in the lineup. It's not as far-fetched as I might have thought. Gardenhire has batted Parmelee higher in the lineup than Arcia and Kubel a couple of times. Tonight, Parmelee started in right field while Arica came off the bench. It's clear that Gardenhire has confidence in Paremelee - provided Parmelee has confidence in himself.


    "I don't worry about where I put him in the lineup," Gardy said after a recent game. "If he's confident, he can hit. It's all about a confident thing with him and not getting too deep into his own head and just going up there and swinging. When he does that, he's got no problems. And right now, he's not worried about a thing. He's just up there swinging. If we can keep that, we've got a good player."


    Parmelee has one other thing going for him: he's out of options. If he doesn't make the roster the Twins could lose him to another team, especially if he has a nice spring.


    He can't play center field, so his only other option is to be the 13th man. Even being out of options, that's an uphill battle because he bats left-handed and a right-handed hitter makes a lot more sense with this lineup. Perhaps if Ramirez is the right-handed center fielder, then maybe Parmelee would be an option. But maybe not even then.


    BACKUP CATCHERS
    This comes down to the Twins deciding which of three values they want to embrace?


    Josmil Pinto
    Value = development. It's hard to tell if Pinto holds his own destiny in his hands this spring, but there is no doubt he does long-term. His goal right now is to show the Twins that he's ready, primarily defensively, or at least that he can continue to learn on the job from Suzuki. Even then they might want to keep him in AAA to play every day.


    I would think his odds go up if Kubel struggles, since Pinto could play there when he's not catching and learn defensively from Suzuki. If he does make it, he could also be the right-handed bench bat the Twins would like, which is a nice benefit. That might open a door for Bartlett (for another right-handed bat with defensive chops) or Parmelee (as a left-handed bat who is out of options) to be the 13th man.


    Eric Fryer
    Value = Veteran defense. On the one hand, they might think they already have this with Suzuki on the roster. On the other, I would never underestimate the Twins to value veterans who play strong defense.


    Chris Herrmann
    Value = Flexibility. If only he could also play center field. He can play first base or corner outfield, so keeping him opens the door to all kinds of mix and match possibilities with Bartlett, Colabello or Mastroianni and Ramirez as the 13th man. It would likely be bad news for Parmelee, because they would still need a right-handed bat.


    If I had to guess right now, I think I'd say that if Parmelee wins right field, the bench is Escobar, Mastroianni, Fryer and ... let's go with Bartlett. And if not, maybe they try to stash him as the 13th man.
    This article was originally published in blog: Roster Speculation: The Position Players started by John Bonnes
    Comments 46 Comments
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Kubel, Parmelee and Arcia. It doesn't make sense to take three left handed RF/DH.

      The Twins have to make the correct assessment on Parmelee. If he can be a valuable platoon player under team control, they must keep him. It would be a much easier decision if they had invested 1000 plate appearances in him rather than playing Doumit. What did they gain? An extra win?

      Arcia needs to be in the majors.

      Kubel or Parmelee. Which direction should they go? I would go with the player more likely to provide a useful piece on the next contending team. It could be Kubel if he can hit like he did in 2012 and the a Twins can trade him. The Twins must know that is very unlikely.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      I expect the April Active roster will be veteran laden. The rookies, 1st year guys will be in Rochester. I've changed my mind and now think only 12 pitchers on the roster, thus 13 position players. The OF will be Willingham, Presly, Kubel, Parmelee, and Mastroianni. The Infield: Plouffe, Florimon, Dozier, Mauer, and Escobar. Catching: Suzuki, Fryer, and Herrmann. Bartlett will be promoted if one of the INF falters and Bartlett is productive at Rochester. Arcia is the 1st OF to be promoted. Pinto stays in Rochester until Suzuki is traded, or September comes. This isn't my preferred roster--but is what I think will happen.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      I asked Gardenhire "is it fair to suggest that Parmelee has the edge for right field." His response:

      "No. It would be unfair to suggest that. But we know what's at stake with him. He knows what's at stake with him."

      He's mentioned that "at stake with him" quote a couple of times now. I think Gardenhire is referring to the fact that Parmelee has no options. I think everyone wants Parmelee to find his way onto this roster.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Good summary of where we're at right now, John, much appreciated. I like jorgenswest take and agree with Kwak, we could see a lot of veterans.. hey if it wins games, then run with it..

      I disagree with much of our position shifting. I include DH in that. (I am referring to the team in general, not statements this article.) For example, when will we need Chris Herrmann to play the outfield? We're happy for him but, how well does he catch? I understand there's lineup juggling and that guys need to learn new positions now and then. But when I hear a coach repeatedly quoted as saying we can "play this guy anywhere" it starts to feel like it's a team in a rec league. Just my perception. I think back to all the very good Twins teams, and most of the guys had a set position in the field and a regular place in the batting order. Not these teams ..maybe I'm still scarred by Cuddyer playing 2B.

      If I were pretend GM I would make a clean slate and start by evaluating how guys hit and field according to their primary positions. This is a good year to start fresh with some new approach like that.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I do see Suzuki as a lock to make the 25-man roster, but not as a lock to be the starter. I can definitely see a 50% arrangement with Pinto there to begin the season, and then move to 75-25 in favor of Pinto by season's end.

      I do not see Presley as a lock to make the 25-man and much more to be the starter. He really has not proven himself in the majors and so far looks really over matched at the plate and his range looks pretty smallish on the field (yesterday he let a fly ball, that was not routine but catchable with better positioning and faster reaction to its trajectory, sail over his head for example.)

      Bartlett and Kubel look overmatched so far at the plate. Their timing is non-existent. Kubel is practically fighting with Parmelee for a spot here and Parmelee has the edge both on the field and at the plate. Bartlett is so bad, he might just be among the first cuts next week just for mercy's sake.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      If I had to guess right now, I think I'd say that if Parmelee wins right field, the bench is Escobar, Mastroianni, Fryer and ... let's go with Bartlett.



      Easily THE WORST bench in baseball.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      And not to mention that would create a need for three 40-man roster sorts. I'm assuming that you have Kubel as the DH, Mastro and Bartlett.
    1. ltwedt's Avatar
      ltwedt -
      Oh Man - can we please call an end to the Chris Parmalee experiment? Yeah, he hit a homer in one of the games so far, and had an RBI single, but if his confidence has major swings like it's suggested by Gardy, he will be just another poor fielding, .230 hitting corner outfielder.

      I've seen the home games so far - watched Vargas put on a power display in BP that rivals the fireworks after the game last night, seen the CF run in an arc to miss a fly ball that was over his head! I'm thinking that Hicks has ONLY Mastro to worry about - Oh and Gardy's recollection of the massive blunder it was last year to bring him to Target Field directly from Ft Myers last year.

      So - I agree with Plouffe, Florimon, Dozier, Mauer - Suzuki has some very rough edges - saw him flat miss a pitch last night, and was unable to hang on to the ball a couple of times - but he gets the job - I like Thrylos' 50%-50% call, and also his suggestion that it will be more Pinto by August. Now the outfield - this gets interesting - we'll be suffering with Willingham in left - he's a lock, I'm going to say Pressley in center, although I think he's a temp until Hicks finds himself in Rochester and makes the jump, and Parms in Right - Gardy likes him too much for me to think he would get left behind. Bartlett will be the utility guy, Arcia will be there along with Herrman and Escobar. Sounds like another 80+ loss season.

      Now, if Hughes and Nolasco each win 14+, and Pelfry has a decent June and July it would be interesting. Only thing is, I can't see how they're going to score runs.

      I'll be looking for the coming pitching roster discussion. For now I'll go with 76-86
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      It's too bad what your seeing from Bartlett.
    1. Teddy's Avatar
      Teddy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post

      I do not see Presley as a lock to make the 25-man and much more to be the starter. He really has not proven himself in the majors and so far looks really over matched at the plate and his range looks pretty smallish on the field (yesterday he let a fly ball, that was not routine but catchable with better positioning and faster reaction to its trajectory, sail over his head for example.)
      Does Presley have any options left?
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by ltwedt View Post
      Oh Man - can we please call an end to the Chris Parmalee experiment? Yeah, he hit a homer in one of the games so far, and had an RBI single, but if his confidence has major swings like it's suggested by Gardy, he will be just another poor fielding, .230 hitting corner outfielder.

      ......and Parms in Right - Arcia will be there along with Herrman and Escobar.
      Parmelee is lots of things meh, but he isn't just another poor fielder, he proved actually quite competent in RF last year.

      And how can they start Parmelee and leave Arcia on the bench? Whenever Arcia is here, it will be to start.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      I expect the April Active roster will be veteran laden. The rookies, 1st year guys will be in Rochester. I've changed my mind and now think only 12 pitchers on the roster, thus 13 position players. The OF will be Willingham, Presly, Kubel, Parmelee, and Mastroianni. The Infield: Plouffe, Florimon, Dozier, Mauer, and Escobar. Catching: Suzuki, Fryer, and Herrmann. Bartlett will be promoted if one of the INF falters and Bartlett is productive at Rochester. Arcia is the 1st OF to be promoted. Pinto stays in Rochester until Suzuki is traded, or September comes. This isn't my preferred roster--but is what I think will happen.
      Bartlet made it pretty clear in an interview that he has an "out" if he's not on the MLB roster after spring training and that he's essentially playing to impress not only the Twins, but other teams that might end up in need of a utility player. I don't think anyone can be surprised that he's off to a slow start after not playing for a year and a half, but if he starts to knock the rust off, you have to assume he very well might not accept a AAA assignment to start the year. Obviously, you don't make that a determining factor in your roster decision, but I'm just pointing out that you may not be able to assume he could be a call-up because he may not go to Rochester.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Teddy View Post
      Does Presley have any options left?
      No. Not if I'm reading this page correctly: http://twinsdaily.com/content.php/22...r-Payroll-2014

      edit: everyone out of options - Presley, Parmelee, Escobar, Plouffe, & Ramirez
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I would be sad if a team that has lost over 90 games a year for three years can't find space for young players with upside, and goes bad veteran heavy. Hopefully someday the minor league system will kick out players.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      LEN3 suggests Parmelee is trying out for a bench spot

      Out of options, Parmelee is battling for a backup outfielder/designated hitter role that also might include some action at first base on the days Joe Mauer won’t play in the field.
      http://www.startribune.com/sports/twins/248683461.html
    1. MichiganTwins's Avatar
      MichiganTwins -
      How is Hicks and Pressly not even a position battle? Maybe Pressly is ahead because he does not have any options, but I was hoping to read some about that, but alas, nope. There was no mention of even a possibility that HIcks starts. Disappointing article.
    1. Dman's Avatar
      Dman -
      I really thought Kubel and Bartlett would come out of the gates strong. As usual I was wrong. I thought they had a lot at stake, a lot of MLB experience and high motivation to succeed. Maybe age is a larger factor than I realized. Anyway if they don't get it together fairly soon I am in the camp that wants the younger guys to get the playing time. Let those two aging veterans play somewhere else and give some of the young guys a chance.

      I know it is early but Diamond really let the air out of my sails last night as well. I really thought he would be a different pitcher this year but it looks like nothing has really changed. Again it is very early but I was very disappointed with what I saw from him last night.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Professional athletes tend to be who they are by the time they are 30....Diamond is what he is. a great AAAA pitcher who can get lucky and have a good year.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      I pay a little more attention to how hitters look this early in camp than I do the pitchers, especially guys who have been around a little while. In the first couple games, pitchers are sometimes working more on locating specific pitches than they are mixing things up the way they would in a game that counted. Diamond didn't look good, true. But I'll pay more attention to who's winning that 5th rotation spot later in March than I will right now.
    1. blindeke's Avatar
      blindeke -
      why is our roster so crappy? [sigh]
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