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Halfway Roster Projections: Has Yours Changed?

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Most baseball fanís favorite part of spring training is projecting your teams opening day roster. With new free agent acquisitions and minor leaguers with dreams of making it to the show, both players and fans are excited to get things going. Halfway through spring training do we really know more now than we did 3 weeks ago about projecting the opening day roster?

With more rounds of cuts on the way and the possibility of signing another player, or two, there are a variety of opinions and here is mine:

Starting Lineup:
Aaron Hicks, CF
Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Josh Willingham, LF
Justin Morneau, 1B
Ryan Doumit, DH
Chris Parmelee, RF
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Pedro Florimon, SS

Nothing has changed since before camp began with the starting lineup from my perspective. In many opinions, including mine, Hicks has widened his lead for the starting center field position. However, he could still relinquish the position if Mastroianni finishes the spring strong and Hicks falls apart as Benson has done to this point. Keep in mind that if Hicks were to be demoted to AAA Rochester and didnít make his debut until May it would save the Twins a year of service time.

Other possible changes to the starting lineup could include Parmelee and Plouffe with their nagging injury situations as well as Dozier and Florimon with their inadequate hitting.

Bench:
Darin Mastroianni, OF
Jamey Carroll, IF
Eduardo Escobar, IF
Chris Colabello, 1B

What do you know I threw in a surprise, Colabello. With Gardenhire possible on his way out after this season it appears he may be pushing for a bat on the bench, Colabello could be just that. Batting .333 this spring with zero home runs, Colabello has taken off for Team Italia with a .429 avg, 2 HR, and a 1.324 OPS. Leading to speculation of possibly keeping an extra bat is Gardy trying to get Escobar time as an emergency third catcher, as he was in Chicago. If Colabello doesnít make the roster as a strong bat off the bench I will go with the obvious assumption that Butera will be on the roster opening day.

Carroll is his old durable self, solid in the field at multiple positions, capable at the plate, and wonít start because he is too valuable as a utility player. He will still play over a hundred games with Plouffe having nagging injuries, like last year, and Dozier and Florimonís inconsistencies at the plate.

Escobar is the wild card to me. I believe he still has the possibility to be the starter at 2nd or short with his slick fielding, and quite frankly he is actually hitting the ball (.367 avg.) compared to Dozier (.226) and Florimon (.222) who arenít.

Starting Rotation:
Vance Worley
Mike Pelfrey
Kevin Correia
Cole DeVries
Samuel Deduno

This is where most of you are going to think Iím crazy. The obvious starters are Worley, Pelfrey, and Correia. Diamond is not going to be ready for the start of the season. Some fans feel the Twins may start the year with a four-man rotation as they donít necessarily need a 5th starter until April 7th, but with Pelfrey and Worley coming off injuries and unsure when Diamond will return I believe they will still go with five guys.

Although not sexy options in many fans minds, DeVries and Deduno have looked better this spring than Hendriks and Gibson. Gibson will also be on an innings limit this season and would be better off starting the year in AAA where he can be limited (This would also keep him from acquiring service time and keep him under team control for an extra season). DeVries has pitched well this spring given up only 2 hits in 7 scoreless innings. Strictly from a numbers standpoint he was one of the most effective Twins starters last year as well with a 4.11 ERA (2nd among starters) and a 1.21 WHIP (1st). Deduno outperformed Hendriks at the major league level last year and looked good in his lone start this season in the WBC against Spain, pitching four shutout innings to go along with 5 strikeouts. Thursday will be a great test for Sameul pitching against Team USA. Finally, Diamond, when ready, will take over for whoever is less effective between the two.

Bullpen:
Glen Perkins
Jared Burton
Brian Duensing
Alex Burnett
Casey Fien
Josh Roenicke
Ryan Pressley

Perkins, Burton, and Duensing are locks barring injury. Pressley has looked good and as a rule 5 draft pick would have to be sent back to the Red Sox if not on the roster (unless the twins traded for him). Roenicke has pitched solidly this spring and is out of options. The final bullpen spots are coming down to Alex Burnett (almost a lock before spring, not so sure now), Casey Fien, Tim Wood, and Anthony Swarzak. Burnett was solid for the Twins last year and I expect him to turn things around by the end of spring. Swarzak will probably start the season on the DL, or rehabbing in extended spring training (as will Rich Harden and Rafael Perez). Wood, who is out of options, may overtake Fien just because he has an option remaining.

Although the first 3 weeks of spring training have made a few players standout, Aaron Hicks, and have made others fallout, Kyle Gibson, not much has been settled. The remaining 3 weeks are sure to have a more significant impact on the opening day roster as the players fighting for spots will see more time.

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