"Now it's time for the easiest part of any coach's job: the cuts. Although I wasn't able to cut everyone I wanted to, I did cut a lot of you. Wendell is cut. Rudy is cut. Janey, you're gone. Steven, I like your hustle. That's why it was so hard to cut you. Congratulations, the rest of you made the team! Except you, you and you."The Twins made their first round of spring cuts on Sunday morning, sending 12 players to the organization's minor-league camp. The group includes the following: pitchers Zach Day, Deolis Guerra, Oswaldo Sosa, Jose Mijares, Armondo Gabino and Brian Duensing; catchers Jose Morales, Allen de San Miguel and Jeff Christy; infielders Alejandro Machado and Felix Molina; and outfielder Darnell McDonald. Among these names, the only ones that are mildly surprising are Duensing, Morales and Machado.
- Homer Simpson, pee-wee football coach.
It seemed like Duensing would be a strong contender for the fifth spot in the Twins' rotation this spring after effectively conquering Triple-A last year, posting a 3.24 ERA over 116 2/3 innings there following a mid-season promotion from New Britain. Yet, for whatever reason, Duensing never seemed to be a legitimate contender to make the Opening Day roster despite possessing a reliable left arm. His name was rarely mentioned in the local papers when that fifth rotation spot was being discussed, and that means the beat writers probably weren't hearing about him much from team officials. Duensing struggled mightily in two appearances this spring, allowing five runs, five hits and five walks in 2 1/3 innings, but it's a little surprising that the Twins didn't give him more of an opportunity to showcase his skills.
Morales had a very good season in Rochester in 2007, batting .311/.366/.399 while showing some solid skills behind the plate, but he won't be on the major-league roster as long as Mike Redmond and Joe Mauer are both healthy, so there wasn't much sense in keeping him in the big-league camp.
Machado was one of about 4,523,309 utility infielders in the Twins' camp, but he is by all accounts a good defender and his plate discipline (.372 minor-league OBP) makes him an intriguing prospect, so I wouldn't have minded seeing him stick around for a bit longer.
Nonetheless, none of the cuts from this first round came as a big surprise, and there are still a lot of important decisions to be made. For what it's worth, Ron Gardenhire has indicated that Carlos Gomez may have an upper hand in the battle for center field, despite having batted .190/.208/.333 in 21 at-bats this spring:
"Sometimes with young hitters, it's better to get them 500 to 550 at-bats than worry about on-base percentage," Gardenhire said. "Just let them play."D'oh! Homer would be proud.