It's hard to believe, but after a long 2011 season and a very long offseason, Opening Day is just one week away for the Twins and the rest of baseball (except the A's and Mariners, I guess.). I have been doing these weekly roster projections for for weeks, and it's a lot of fun. As much as we like to think our roster projections a month out look pretty solid, it's impossible to know. No one could have predicted that Chris Parmelee would perform so well. And who knew with the bullpen.
Think about this. I posted a roster projection last Friday, and by Sunday, the Twins helped clarify things and my projection was already outdated. With one week to go, a few more spots on the roster have appeared to be solidified, but there are still question marks. Obviously injury concerns with Scott Baker and Kyle Waldrop have affected things, and we continue to keep the family of Jason Marquis in our thoughts as they remain with their daughter who was in a bicycle accident just over a week ago.
There are still roster moves to be made. Some have really impressed this spring, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. As a side note, the full-season minor league seasons actually start the day before the major league opener. Keep tuned to Twins Daily. When we get any official information on the major league and then the minor league rosters, this will be a great place to find that information and discuss it.
(The players in Red
are players that I believe are givens to make the roster (obviously pending injury). Those in black are potentially up for grabs. Discuss my selections and be sure to post your roster projections in the Comments as well.)
Catchers: Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit
I have had JR Towles as the third catcher, and I have had Drew Butera retaining his spot. This week, I am going to project that the Twins will go with just two catchers. I don't know how comfortable Ron Gardenhire will be with that arrangement, and frankly, despite the fact that I don't like the idea of a third catcher, I do like the idea of Ryan Doumit getting a lot of at bats, and without a third catcher, I don't think that he will get as many.
Infielders: Justin Morneau, Alexi Casilla, Danny Valencia, Jamey Carroll, Luke Hughes, Chris Parmelee, Sean Burroughs
Clearly the stories here have been Justin Morneau playing solely first base over the past 2-3 weeks and the play of Chris Parmelee. I'm not convinced that Parmelee is really ready or that it is best for his development to be on the big league roster. Thats a major reason, although not the only one, that I don't necessarily think that it is best for the Twins to have him in the big leagues. I made the argument earlier in the week that Luke Hughes could start at 2B with Casilla being a utility player. I don't think that would happen, but I would like to see Hughes get some time. Carroll has started hitting a little bit of late, but there are no concerns with him. The final bench spot does appear to be between Dinkelman, Burroughs, Butera and JR Towles. Dinkelman has had a very good camp and could be making the Twins brass consider him as a viable LH Pinch hitter option. Dinkelman or Burroughs would need to be added to the 40 man roster. Although Gardenhire did say a couple of weeks ago that Brian Dozier would start the season in Rochester (which is good), he remains in camp and continues to impress.
Outfielders: Ben Revere, Denard Span, Josh Willingham, Trevor Plouffe
No change, in terms of who will likely be in the outfield, but plenty of change in the alignment. On Sunday, Gardenhire announced that Josh Willingham was moving back to Left Field and (no surprise) Denard Span will start in center field. He also said that Ben Revere will be the 4th outfielder. That means that Right Field will be manned by Trevor Plouffe, Ryan Doumit and Chris Parmelee, as well as by Revere.
Starting Pitchers: Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Nick Blackburn, Liam Hendriks, Scott Baker, Jason Marquis
The top three spots appear set, and Baker and Marquis are the other two starters. However, it is still unclear whether Baker will need to start the season on the Disabled List or whether Marquis could be put on the bereavement list to start the season. In my opinion, at least one of those scenarios are pretty likely to happen, and that's why I have added Liam Hendriks to the starting rotation. I can't quite put him in red because it's possible Baker and Marquis will be ready for opening day. Although Baker and Marquis are both on the roster (and should be red), I put them in green to note that is where the question mark in the rotation lies.
Bullpen: Matt Capps, Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, Anthony Swarzak, Jared Burton, Matt Maloney, Jeff Gray,Kyle Waldrop,
It's fairly clear that the Twins have set six spots in their bullpen at this point with Burton and Maloney grabbing hold of two more spots. Kyle Waldrop was certainly the favorite for that last spot and may be in red now if not for some inflammation in his elbow. He will likely begin the season on the DL. So, the final roster spot is up for grabs between Jeff Gray, Alex Burnett and Casey Fien. At this point, it come down to what makes sense. Burnett has been there the past two years, but he has really struggled in camp (and the last two seasons). Fien has pitched just fine, but he hasn't been put into early situations in the game, against big league hitters, so although his numbers look terrific and he's pitched well, it just doesn't seem that he's likely (although he is still there). Gray was a name that I mentioned last week as a guy not to forget. He didn't get many opportunities in "A" games the first couple of weeks of camp, but he's on the 40 man roster and he's out of options, so I hoped he would at least get a shot. He's pitched a couple of times and done pretty well. He's had quite a bit of (unimpressive) big league time, but I think he's the guy who gets that spot out of spring training.
What are your thoughts? Discuss what your roster looks like? The season is getting close, and I'm getting excited! I hope everyone else is too!