Monday, March 10, 2008

You're Cut

"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."
- Homer Simpson, pee-wee football coach.
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.

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.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Both Morales and Machado have injury issues. My guess is it was obvious they weren't going to be ready to start the season at the major league level.

Likewise, Duensing was not on the major league roster and unlikely to win a job even if he pitched well. He didn't and he needs to get regular work. That wasn't going to happen in major league camp with all the starting pitchers the Twins are running out there.

The Twins really only have four roster spots open. There is the battle for center field. One spot in the rotation, one in the bullpen and one extra bench player. That is assuming Liriano and Crain are good to go.

Nick N. said...

The Twins really only have four roster spots open. There is the battle for center field. One spot in the rotation, one in the bullpen and one extra bench player.

I don't know that we can safely assume that second base is a set position at this point.

Anonymous said...

I don't think second base is set, but I think it is between Punto and Harris with the other one being the extra infielder. So either way, the roster is the same. Even in the unlikely event that Casilla should win the job, I think its likely the other two would still be on the roster.

frightwig said...

It's becoming increasingly clear that Gomez will be the starting CF when the season opens, if for no reason except that Twins management thinks it's necessary to show people that they got at least one "major league-ready prospect" in the Santana trade.

Anonymous said...

Twins management thinks it's necessary to show people that they got at least one "major league-ready prospect" in the Santana trade.

What people are those? I don't think the Twins give two hoots about what fans think about their decisions. Nor should they.

Gomez is clearly the guy with the most talent of the three guys competing for center field. The only question is whether that talent is ready for prime time. We won't know the answer to that for a couple more weeks.

Span may be showing is that he is ready, which makes the decision more interesting. But I think he is really competing with Pridie for the spot if Gomez fails to win it.

Corey E. said...

Really, you think it'll be between Span and Pridie if Gomez doesn't win it huh?

I don't know... But I'm guessing that whoever opens the season for the Twins in centerfield will either have come in through a trade, free agency, or have been an in-house option.

Anonymous said...

Gotta like a guy who is not only an ardent baseball fan but also quotes Homer Simpson!

Nick N. said...

But I'm guessing that whoever opens the season for the Twins in centerfield will either have come in through a trade, free agency, or have been an in-house option.

Heh, thanks Shooter.

Gotta like a guy who is not only an ardent baseball fan but also quotes Homer Simpson!

Greatest show of all time.

Corey E. said...

I just had too.

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