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Roster Options for 2013

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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.

Starting rotation

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.

The Outfield

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.

Middle Infield

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.

The Roster

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.

Updated 12-21-2012 at 06:11 PM by Shane Wahl

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  1. Jim H's Avatar
    Don't understand the Carroll thing. He is not really above average anywhere any more. He certainly isn't above average at short. He is a utility infielder and still pretty good at it. That is where he should be. If Florimon or Dozier aren't the answer at short, and they may not be, than you go elsewhere to find one. I wouldn't waste much time plugging Carroll in there.

    I am sort of surprised that the Twins haven't/apparently aren't going to get a solid middle infielder. It seems to indicate that they think either Florimon or Dozier can be a decent shortstop.
  2. Riverbrian's Avatar
    Shane... Thanks for the mention of Calabello... I didn't know much about him and just spent some time reading a couple of articles on him. This is a player I can pull for with everything I have.

    Has anyone seen this guy play 3B... I read that he was fantastic defensively but he played 1B in New Britain... I also saw that he has some 3B experience. It seems that 3B would be the less cluttered path. He's a great story no doubt... I will be checking his box scores.
  3. lee_the_twins_fan's Avatar
    Shane; I agree with your MI analysis. But I doubt the Twins will bring up Ramirez, Boggs or Colabello, unless one of them excels in spring training. I agree I'd rather see Herrmann over Butera – but I doubt the Twins FO sees it that way.
    Your pitching staff looks right, except I think Pelfrey WILL be ready. If Harden is also ready, Robertson will the odd man out.

    The OF situation is more complex. Arcia and Hicks appear ready or near-ready to start. I think the Twins would want them to play every day, however – at whatever level. One of the two of them I expect will be brought up about June 1 to extend their control.

    Here's what i suspect the Twins will do: Use Willingham, Mastroianni and Parmelee in the outfield for the first two months. if one needs a break, they have Plouffe, Doumit and others who can play in the outfield. It doesn't give much backup for CF, but Mastroianni can handle it for two months.

    Then around June 1, either Arcia or Hicks will be brought in – either as an injury replacement, or as a replacement for ineffectiveness. Then Mastroianni becomes the fourth outfielder.

    That leaves two roster spots open. One goes to Escobar. The other goes to someone who is a spring training invitee. I'm going to say it's someone we haven't even signed yet.

    Of those on the ST invite list, yeah, Boggs might be it. I'm guessing he won't be there yet.

    Even with Benson's talent, he bombed last year. I don't think he's ready yet for the big show, at least not right out of ST.

    Arcia and Hicks will be with the team sometime in 2013. I think the ONLY reason Hicks is not up at the start is to not begin his ML service. One will be up by June 1; the other may be up even before then, if there's an injury. Hicks has more experience in CF, and therefore has the edge. Without any ML injuries, I expect Hicks to be the one called up about June 1. But if there is an injury, Arcia could be up before then.

    It's a complicated mess. And yes, the roster is not settled.
  4. Shane Wahl's Avatar
    Jim: Check out Carroll's defensive statistics from last year. At third, second, and short he was above average. It is a fair point to make that there is no way he will be as good next year as last year, true. But he is solid at the position and has surprising range. Florimon would make plays that Carroll could not . . . but the opposite is true as well.

    Riverbrian: Colabello appears to have been fairly bad at 3B. That is why I labelled him an emergency 3B in the case of Plouffe and Carroll somehow being out in-game at some point. It's probably similar to how Mastroianni would technically be an emergency second baseman as well. That's still worth having. My reason for wanting him on the roster is that I really don't see anyone else currently in the organization who is going to provide a bench bat as potentially good as is, and he is certainly peaking right now in his prime. It isn't as though he needs seasoning in AAA. It is also a great story, but having a RH bat on the bench would be nice for a change.

    Lee: yeah, I understand that the Twins likely won't agree with me. I honestly do think that this is their mistake (haha!). That said, I see no way in hell that they will not have a backup OF for Mastroianni and everybody else. Boggs is most likely the guy, but Ramirez would be my pick. It doesn't really matter as long as it is one of them.

    Hicks and Arcia in June if they are doing well in AAA. No, zero, none, zilch, etc. reason not to do that. That is why I like guys already here to be the placeholder instead of signing another player. Eventually I would also hope that the pitching staff drops to 11 pitchers to add one more player.

    I am fairly certain that it will be Butera over Herrmann. I see no reason to do that though. Of course I also would have promoted Herrmann to AAA by July last year. If they are waiting on "seasoning" in AAA for him . . . how dumb. He is not likely to be any kind of star and maybe not even a regular on a good team. But that doesn't mean that Drew Butera should be on the roster instead. Herrmann is a legitimate *batter* if not a *hitter* necessarily. And he might be able to be a super utility man if given the proper attention. Like an NBA role-player . . .

    Benson was hurt last year and the team certainly put pressure on him with that 2011 September callup without any time at AAA (DUMB). He needs to be at AAA and be playing every day.

    I don't think Pelfrey can even be ready. Wasn't his surgery in May? To be ready by April, he's got to be getting ready in February and March. I don't think it would be wise to push him. There is absolutely no reason to do so. Let him come back a bit later to protect against further injury.
  5. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
    Unfortunately I think Florimon starts the season as the everyday SS, definitely not excited about it, but I think it's happening. Carroll and Dozier to split time at 2B/Utility, and I'm sure Carroll will also spell Florimon at SS, maybe Dozier too. I dont think Slama makes the club, he didn't get called up last September, and the organzation seems to have some serious bias against him getting things done at the big league level; I wish they'd give him a shot, but it's not happening.
  6. Shane Wahl's Avatar
    It's not the end of the world if Florimon starts there, but I don't know what they do at the top of the lineup then!? Carroll makes sense even as a leadoff hitter with Mauer behind him. Mastro and Florimon??

    There are two legitimate non-Mauer leadoff contenders in my view: Jamey Carroll and Aaron Hicks.

    With regard to Slama. They are extending an invite to ST for him this year and they didn't last year. They have got to take him seriously.
  7. jorgenswest's Avatar
    Good assessment at this point.

    It shows the Twins still have some work to do.

    I hope that Florimon doesn't make the team. If he does, it will be a starting SS. He gives the team nothing off the bench.

    The 25th spot on the team will be fluid due to injuries and whether it is a 12 or 13 man pitching staff. They should not add a player to,the 40 man to fill this temporary role like they did with Burroughs last year.

    I like the pitching, but I don't think Swarzak has any trade value. There are going to be several Swarzak type players who will be DFA'd as the season starts. No need to trade for one.

    They can not go into the season with that outfield. Mastro is only useful as a 4th OF.

    There has been a lot of discussion of June (or even June 1) with regards to Hicks and Arcia. That super two date is not a fixed target. The new CBA upped the number from 17% to 22%. It won't be until winter 2015 until teams get a sense of where the 22% lands. The Twins could be conservative and wait until later in June or maybe even the all star break. It will really depend on whether other teams will be as patient. Small market teams need to do this.

    I think it is too long to wait.

    The Twins are not a small market team. They can afford to pay arbitration a year earlier.

    Hicks and Arcia will struggle when we see them this year. They will also progress more quickly. I would plan now to have them in the opening day lineup with Matroianni as the 4th OF. They need to trade Morneau and move Parmelee to 1B. Alternatively, if they can't trade Morneau, they can DH Willingham.
  8. johnnydakota's Avatar
    My concern is the left handed relievers Dunny and his 4.40 era wasnt really bad, much better as a reliever then starter, but its Robertson and his 5.40 era that i wonder about...
    is there any leftys in the pipeline who can challenge for a spot?
  9. Rosterman's Avatar
    I would think Swarzak would have some value for a team looking for that middle reliever who can eat innings. The Twins can't cut him without losing him. I would be exploring ANY trade options for the guy right now.

    The other issue: Who on the current 40-man roister is expendable. If the Twins needed to add someone, anyone, who would go. Roeinke, Wood? Butera or Herrmann? Do the Twins really need to keep Pressly (we will find out). There isn't a lot of chaf to cut and you either have to find a place for a Benson, Hicks, Arcia in the majors, perhaps, because you aren't waivering them off the roster.

    Even with names like Boggs, Ramierz, Caba in the background and worthy callups if someone goes down, they would still need a roster spot.

    That is where things get difficult.

    Hendriks, DeVries, Gibson are the abckup starters. You don't add Perdumo, Walters, Vasquez because there is no way to add them right now. Even Harden, if you choose to carry him, will need to find a 40-man spot.

    So that does put folks Like Swarzak, Butera, Florimon on the bubble (out of options) and will have the Twins taking hard looks at people like Burnet, Robertson and Escobar.
  10. Rosterman's Avatar
    The Twins were thinking about Thielbar. Duensing will shine if they keep him in the bullpen.
  11. Shane Wahl's Avatar
    I don't even know why the Twins have Roenieke or Wood in the first place (Boggs/Ramirez and Harden). Butera would be next unless Pressly immediately stinks.
  12. Jim H's Avatar
    Shane, I have no confidence in defensive stats, for any number of reasons. If the defensive stats say Carroll is above average especially at short, that is still one more reason to distrust them. More importantly, Carroll's production isn't likely to stand up to being a regular. If he is used as a utility guy, 3-4 times a week, he will stay fresher both offensively and defensively. I don't much care if he is used at the top of the lineup, when he is in the lineup, but I really think I would put Dozier there. With the choice right now, Dozier will likely start at either short or 2nd. Let him bat 2nd if he does.

    While I think roster speculation is interesting, there are so many variables and even possible additions or subtractions between now and spring training, that I doubt things will work out much like any of us suspect. The starting pitching breakdown and centerfield should be the most interesting.
  13. Jim H's Avatar
    Shane, to be a little less snarky. It is not just my opinion that Carroll is a below average fielder. If Carroll was viewed by major league talent evaluators as an above average fielder at shortstop, he would of held down a regular starting shortstop job for the last ten years instead being a utility man. His offense has been average or above for a middle infielder. If he was even average defensively he would of been starter. Look at guys like Adam Everett who started for years. Defense at short is the defining issue. Carroll clearly isn't that good defensively. Gardy would of left him at short or brought him back when Dozier struggled if Carroll were even an average big league shortstop.
  14. jorgenswest's Avatar

    I think the Twins management agree with you on defense and stats. They are going to let everyone else go ahead on this curve and hope it is the wrong direction.

    Even looking at the numbers, Carroll at best measured in the middle of qualifying shortstops. He did not have the innings to join that group. His defensive runs saved and UZR are ordinary. The numbers show that he has below average range and does not make a lot of errors. I think our eyes can see that.

    However, I do think the Twins should be paying attention to the defensive metrics. Maybe they are, but their roster decisions over the last two years indicate otherwise. Certainly, the decisions they have made indicate that they do not think defense has a significant impact on wins.
    Updated 12-22-2012 at 08:44 PM by jorgenswest
  15. stringer bell's Avatar
    Carroll is a utility guy and shouldn't be a regular. Period, end of sentence. While defense is certainly important, I don't think any metrics are foolproof and further, I don't think any defender should be judged by a partial season on things as UZR etc.
  16. Shane Wahl's Avatar
    You guys are really undervaluing his defensive performance this year. Overall he was good defensively, and that included his time at shortstop. I am not sure how anyone actually disputes this. He made essentially ALL of the routine plays and his range was better than expected.

    Anyway, that he should start at short to begin the season says nothing about him finishing there, or being there midway, or even there in mid-May.
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