Without exception, each spot on a team's 25-man roster is important.
In any given week, it is likely that every last one of those players will see action in a game. On a contending team, all 25 openings should ideally be filled by guys who can play a meaningful and valuable role.
Those roster spots can also be used to protect assets. A rebuilding team might choose to put a Rule 5 pick in the last bullpen slot, or stash a project who's out of options at the end of the bench.
What is puzzling is seeing a future-focused team such as the Twins using its 25-man roster spots in a way that could only be described as haphazard.
In their ongoing mission to reassemble veterans who took part in their last successful run, the Twins have repeatedly cast aside young players with potential long-term value in order to roster aging players in decline.
First, there was Jason Kubel, who essentially beat out Chris Parmelee despite a poor 2013 and a mostly unimpressive spring. In fairness, that move didn't work out too badly, as Parmelee slipped through waivers.
Kubel made good on the decision with a fast start, but he has fallen apart at the plate (28 strikeouts in his last 63 plate appearances) while Parmelee is raking in Triple-A
It's not clear that the correct decision was made here, but it was understandable and nothing was hurt at the end of the day.
Giving a roster spot to 34-year-old Jason Bartlett, under the pretense that he'd be an asset as a play-anywhere utilityman despite having no history of doing so (not to mention being a year removed from playing), was much harder to figure.
That blunder did hurt. Bartlett looked terrible, got hurt and retired. In order to stage this fiasco, the Twins waived and lost Alex Presley, who -- while no great shakes -- happened to play at a position where Minnesota has turned out to be dreadfully thin.
And so we all stared apprehensively at Matt Guerrier's opt-out date on the calendar.
To be clear, I have nothing against Guerrier. I liked him when he was here, and he can probably be a perfectly decent middle reliever. But that's no given, considering he's 35, and is coming off a bad year, and wasn't particularly impressive during his warm-up stint in the minors.
On Thursday, the Twins called up Guerrier to avoid having him opt out of his contract. To make room for him, they didn't need to waive anyone from the 25-man roster, but they did send down Logan Darnell after a strong debut, and they had to outright pitching prospect Brooks Raley, who was snatched up by the Angels.
I'll be honest: I don't know much about Raley. I've maybe seen him pitch twice. I know he's a big, hard-throwing lefty with some control problems and mixed results in the minors.
But I also know that he's a full decade younger than Guerrier, and that the Twins liked him enough to claim him just a few months ago.
The signings of Kubel, Bartlett and Guerrier seemed fine during the offseason because there is no inherent risk in non-guaranteed minor-league deals. But when the Twins are exposing and losing young, cheap players left and right in order to give these guys chances, all the appeal is lost.
If you're going to fill these spots with veterans, why screw around with reclamation projects? Why not spend the money to sign established quality players?
This is what's frustrating about the Twins. In many respects, they still operate like a penny-pinching, cash-deficient franchise trying to uncover hidden values that have been overlooked by the rest of the league.
Too often they've whiffed on these projects, and the upside -- now and going forward -- with a player like Guerrier isn't great enough to be dedicating playing time and a roster spot to him over younger players with real long-term upside.
I have a hard time wrapping my head around what the vision is here.