Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Opening Day 25?

With about a month left before spring training really kicks into gear, there isn't a whole lot to discuss relating to baseball except for outside observation and speculations. With that in mind, I thought I'd spend today's post making a very preliminary prediction about what the Twins 25-man roster will look like when they open the season on April 2. Of course, I reserve the right to make revisions to this list over the next two months, as several of these players' futures will likely be dictated by their performances in spring training. Anyway, here's how I envision the opening day Twins' roster at this point in time:

STARTERS
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Luis Castillo, 2B
Nick Punto, 3B
Jason Bartlett, SS
Rondell White, LF
Torii Hunter, CF
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Jason Kubel, DH

BENCH
Mike Redmond, C
Alejandro Machado, IF
Jeff Cirillo, IF
Lew Ford, OF

ROTATION
Johan Santana
Boof Bonser
Carlos Silva
Ramon Ortiz
Matt Garza

BULLPEN
Matt Guerrier
J.D. Durbin
Jesse Crain
Pat Neshek
Dennys Reyes
Juan Rincon
Joe Nathan

Now, there are a few things about this roster configuration that might strike you as odd. One such aspect is the presence of seven pitchers in the bullpen and only four bench players. Here is my reasoning:

I see six members of the Twins' bullpen as set in stone, barring injury (Guerrier, Crain, Rincon, Neshek, Reyes, Nathan). Durbin is out of options, meaning that the Twins will almost undoubtedly lose him if they don't keep him on the major-league roster out of spring training. I don't think the Twins are anxious to lose a guy who has been such a highly touted prospect and who posted such solid numbers last season before going down with an injury. With that in mind, I could see them bringing Durbin north as a reliever, filling a similar role to the one Willie Eyre filled last season. Of course, seven relievers is overkill, which is why it would make a lot of sense to trade Rincon or Crain before the season begins.

A four-man bench might seem a little short-handed, but this bench does provide a backup at every position. A seemingly glaring omission is Jason Tyner, who had a pretty good year in 2007. If all three starting outfielders are healthy, I see Tyner's role as redundant with that of Ford, and the Twins already have their left-handed hitting OF/DH-type in Kubel.

Meanwhile, the Rule V pick Machado provides the Twins with the sure-gloved middle infielder they love to have, while Cirillo can back up first and third and occasionally DH against southpaws.

So that's how I see the Twins' 2007 opening day roster shaping up at this point. Like I said, it's subject to change. If anyone else would like to contribute their own preliminary version, feel free to jot it down in the comments section.

6 comments:

Matthew said...

I can't argue with anything you've said. With it all laid out like that, it's tough to find a spot for Tyner.

However, I do like Tyner a lot more than I do Ford. Last year Tyner put up .312/.345/.353 numbers and Ford only mustered .226/.287/.312. Tyner also brought a lot of energy to the bottom of the lineup during the stretch run.

(Oh and Lew Ford is not worth the $1.3 million he is asking for in arbitration.)

Anonymous said...

I agree with much of this. My only initial thought was Tyner over Ford just to have a left-handed bat on the bench (not that Tyner would be intimidating or anything).

I agree that Durbin will be in the bullpen. Really everything appears pretty set. The only questions marks seem to be:

- Durbin or one of the lefties (Venafro, Choate).
- Machado or Luis Rodriguez.
- Garza or a month of Ponson (before he is released and Garza is brought up).

Then there are some minor questions like what role can Ken Harvey and Matthew Lecroy have. And maybe if Glen Perkins or Kevin Slowey are amazing in spring training, can they make the team?

SethSpeaks.net

Nick N. said...

I agree with you both that Tyner is probably a better option than Ford, but we're kidding ourselves if we think Ford isn't making the team. I do think that Ford is a better base-runner and a more versatile defender (I can't really see Tiny playing right field).

Seth, I agree that Perkins and Slowey could be in the mix for that final rotation spot, as could Ponson. It's tough to predict right now, but I went with Garza just because I think he's the best pitcher of the group. That is a spot that will definitely be won in spring training.

As for LeCroy and Harvey, I think those guys will be waiting in the minors for an injury or for Kubel to struggle at DH, and if either of those things happen they will be the first to get the call.

Lichty said...

I agree with Nick. That roster maximizes the potential roster moves, with the only player being lost due to roster status being Tyner.

Durbin makes it, like Eyre last year, and why not have L-Rod down in Rochester given his minor league contract status.

I think Gardy would prefer Tyner to Ford, but agree with Nick, that Ford will get the nod.

Pitching, I think Ponson gets a shot and Garza stays in Rochester to work on his other three pitches, until Ponson self-destructs around the end of April.

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