"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Thursday, March 29, 2007

(Most Of) Your 2007 Twins

There are three days remaining in spring training and the Twins camp has been whittled down to 27 players. Who's in, who's out, and who's going to get the cut?

Pitching: Starters

With the assignment of Matt Garza to AAA, the starting rotation seems set. The order isn't official, but it will most probably end up like so:


The equally ludicrous ideas of Silva as #2 and Bonser as #5 appear to have fallen by the wayside, for which we can all be thankful. Garza and Glen Perkins will be waiting in Rochester, ready to pounce on any opening.

The big question: Will Twins management be willing to make changes early in the season, or will they play the waiting game again?

This is going to be a very tough division this year, probably tougher than last year. The guy who's throwing the ball for (hopefully) six or seven of your nine innings is a hugely important cog in the machine. The Twins won't have the luxury of a second half in a weak division to make up for the blunders of April and May.

Pitching: Bullpen

Okay, what genius decided to assign Mike Venafro to AAA--an assignment he is free to decline, per his contract--after he pitched a scoreless spring? For chrissakes, he's lefthanded. Do they really think no other team will be calling him with a major-league contract in hand?

Your guaranteed six in the bullpen are:


The big question: Will the Twins carry a 12th pitcher just to keep JD "the Real Flop" Durbin in the organization?

Durbin's out of options, but let's face it--he's a lot more likely to clear waivers than Venafro is to wait by a silent phone.

Hitters/Fielders: the Starting Nine

The only question mark here coming into spring training was, who's in left field? Rondell White appears to have claimed that honor after proving that he doesn't adjust to DHing very well. That position will still be something of a revolving door as the Twins try to keep Rondell injury-free, but expect to see him out there two of every three games. Kubel and a backup outfielder will also see time in left.

Pencil in your scoresheets:

C: Mauer
1B: Morneau
2B: Castillo
SS: Bartlett
3B: Punto
LF: White
CF: Hunter
RF: Cuddyer
DH: Kubel

The big question: How healthy is this lineup?

Mauer, Castillo, White and Hunter all have missed significant time in the last two seasons from injuries, and all have struggled with aches and pains already this spring. Punto insists on flinging himself about with wild abandon. Morneau is a dangerous hitter and a big target for a certain breed of pitcher.

With all the young talent on the team, the organization's depth is not what it once was. They can only plumb the depths of Rochester so often before the sucking begins.

Hitters/Fielders: the Bench

Here's where things get interesting. Do we have a backup shortstop? How about a backup centerfielder, with Lew Ford on the DL? What about a third catcher? Who will cover Morneau on his days off?

The locks on the bench:
IF: Jeff Cirillo
C: Mike Redmond

There are two spots left if the Twins carry twelve pitchers, three if they don't. One of those MUST be a spare outfielder, either Josh Rabe or Jason Tyner. Luis Rodriguez should by all logic claim another, as he is a better backup shortstop than Cirillo.

The big question: The 25th man--twelfth pitcher, third catcher, or fifth outfielder?

The Twins can only have one of the three. Gardy really wants a third catcher, because he likes to DH Joe Mauer on his non-catching days (he is, after all, the AL batting champ). That puts Mike Redmond behind the plate, but what if Redmond got injured and had to come out of the game? If Mauer had to catch, there would be no DH! For the rest of the game! The horror! Gardy does not know how those NL managers sleep at night, what with the lack of the DH.

TBL thinks you have probably cottoned on to her opinion of the third catcher option by now.

("Cottoned on"? Apparently TBL is not quite as out of touch with her Southern roots as she had supposed.)

But if it were up to me...

...Silva would be in Rochester (no way is he going to risk his 4.whatever million by refusing the assignment), Garza would be the #5 starter, Durbin would be on the waiver wire en route to Rochester, Venafro would be in the bullpen, and there would be a glossy 8 x 10 of Glen Perkins inside Sidney Ponson's locker.

1 rejoinders:

frightwig sounded off...

"If Mauer had to catch, there would be no DH! For the rest of the game! The horror! Gardy does not know how those NL managers sleep at night, what with the lack of the DH."

Heh, heh. I wish someone in the media would put the issue to him just like that, at least once, but preferably about once a week. It really is a silly waste of a roster spot, all because Gardy can't imagine how he'd manage ONE partial game with pinch-hitters in the pitcher's spot, on the off-chance that Redmond should ever get badly hurt while Mauer was at DH.