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4th OF Discussion with Hamilton now DFA'd

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Minnesota Twins Roster Projection 2015 Version 2.0

When the calendar turned to 2015, I posted my first Minnesota Twins Roster Projection for 2015. It’s been two months since then, so it’s time today for Roster Projection, version 2.0. Spring training is less than two weeks old, but the Twins played their first exhibition game last night against the Gophers. Tonight, their Grapefruit League schedule begins with a game against the Red Sox. There are still a few jobs available and there will be plenty of competition. Twins Daily will again be in Ft. Myers starting Monday and through the rest of spring training.
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson, USA Today
When a player becomes a “given” for the roster (in my opinion), I will highlight the player’s name in red. Trades and signings can happen at any time between now and opening day, but that just means that even “givens” can change. We will also be able to learn, over time, what it is that Paul Molitor will look for from his roster. Feel free to discuss below.


Catchers (2): Kurt Suzuki, Josmil Pinto

Kurt Suzuki is the clear-cut starter and deservedly so after last year. Josmil Pinto goes into camp as the favorite to be the team’s backup catcher, but it will be a competition. Pinto certainly has the ability to hit and hit for power. The defense remains the question mark. Chris Herrmann is also on the 40-man roster. He has the ability to play the corner outfield positions, and the corner infield positions, in a pinch. He’s a very athletic catcher with a strong arm. Offensively, he has been unable to hit much in his stints with the Twins. Eric Fryer remains in the organization, and Dan Rohlfing was again a non-roster invite to big league camp.

Infielders (7): Kennys Vargas, Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, Danny Santana, Eduardo Escobar, Eduardo Nunez

We will likely hear that there may be competition for a utility infield spot, but I did change Eduardo Nunez to a given. Things can happen, of course. There could be injuries, or a shortstop could be pushed back to centerfield. Those things could alter the opening day roster. Mauer, Dozier and Plouffe will man the bases. There will be some competition for the shortstop position, but Santana and Escobar will both be on the roster to start the season. Nunez is the one question mark, but he does have the ability to play at least five positions on the field. He may not be great at any of them, but his versatility is valuable.

His competition for the job comes in the form of non-roster invites. Fair or not, guys like Eric Farris, James Beresford and Doug Bernier would have to play significantly better than Nunez to take the job. That’s not to say that it couldn’t happen, but it is a long shot at this point of the spring.

Obviously guys like Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano could factor into the infield situation by the end of the year.
Outfielders (4): Oswaldo Arcia, Torii Hunter, Jordan Schafer, Aaron Hicks

Torii Hunter will be the right fielder. Oswaldo Arcia will play left field. Center field will likely remain a question mark through much of spring training. I still believe that the number one option is likely for Aaron Hicks to take charge of the position and show the Twins brass that he is ready this time. Fans, of course and understandably, won’t care what kind of numbers he puts up this spring or how ready he looks, they won’t believe it until he’s had a solid month in the big leagues. Jordan Schafer will be on the roster, but will he be the starting centerfielder or the fourth outfielder? If Hicks starts the season in Rochester, I think Shane Robinson has a good chance to be the fourth outfield or a platoon partner in center field with Schafer.

If Byron Buxton has two doubles every time he plays this spring, he enters into the equation already, though it’s much more likely he will arrive late in the season or even in 2016. Eddie Rosario will also be given an opportunity to compete for the center field job, and he might be the first guy called up during the season if there were an injury.

Starting Pitchers (5): Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco, Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone

As we know, Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco and Kyle Gibson have the first four rotation spots. There are four or five candidates for the fifth starter position. Last month, I looked at five5th starter candidates (Trevor May, Mike Pelfrey, Alex Meyer, Tommy Milone and Tim Stauffer). My personal opinion right now is that Tommy Milone has a slight edge over Trevor May in that competition while Meyer and Pelfrey will also be given long looks. Stauffer will likely go to the bullpen. However, it will be a real competition and may not be decided until April.

Bullpen (7): Glen Perkins, Casey Fien, Brian Duensing, Tim Stauffer, Caleb Thielbar, Mike Pelfrey, JR Graham.

The first five on the above list are givens. After that, there are a lot of arms who will compete for just two more jobs. Paul Molitor indicated earlier this week that he intends to start the season with 12 pitchers.

Of course, the “losers” of the fifthstarter battle play a large role in this decision. Mike Pelfrey, depending upon his velocity, could be a good option for the bullpen. Alex Meyer and Trevor May have the stuff to be very good out of the bullpen at some point, but I would think the Twins would want them to keep starting at this point. JR Graham was the Rule 5 pick, so he will need to be kept on the active roster or offered back to the Braves.

Michael Tonkin is at the point in his career where the Twins need to find out what they have. He throws hard, but will he ever take the next step and be a reliable late-inning option? Pressly was the Rule 5 guy two years ago. The Twins were able to keep him all year and then use his first option last year. Lester Oliveros throws hard and recorded a lot of strikeouts in his first year back after Tommy John surgery. AJ Achter has been one of the most reliable bullpen arms in the Twins farm system the last three years. Mark Hamburger is not only one of the most intriguing stories of the spring, but he throws very hard and has a good mix of pitches thanks to all the time he has spent as a starter.


What are your thoughts? What does your roster look like one month from Opening Day?

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43 Comments

Players like Nunez and Milone do nothing for me. Let the youngsters play! Not sure why the Twins felt they had to sign Milone when they already have a logjam going on.

    • Shane Wahl, DAM DC Twins Fans, Paul Pleiss and 8 others like this

I don't like Nunez involved because he can do only one thing well and that is run. That's it. and I would like to see James Beresford get a chance in the big leagues, even if it is a limited cup of coffee.

 

Milone instead of May is likely and also just ridiculous.

    • Paul Pleiss likes this
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Paul Pleiss
Mar 05 2015 03:58 AM

Smart commenters, everyone hating on Nunez together, I like it. No room for a second utility infielder on this team, especially one with limited defensive and offensive ability. he doesn't do either well, or even relatively well. The only plus skill he has is losing his helmet running the basees.

    • ScrapTheNickname, gil4, Siehbiscuit and 1 other like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Mar 05 2015 06:40 AM
I'm curious what you base the Millone pick on. I think May is probably the favorite right now.
    • milldaddy35 likes this

I don't like Nunez involved because he can do only one thing well and that is run. That's it. and I would like to see James Beresford get a chance in the big leagues, even if it is a limited cup of coffee.

 

Milone instead of May is likely and also just ridiculous.

 

I don't get the Beresford love.Average glove, below average bat.Pinto/Florimon without the glove. 

 

+1 re: Milone/May

Doing the math with Seth's 25 man roster, looks pretty much like this:

 

(+Hunter-Willingham)+(Santana-Correia)+(Graham-Burton)+70 > 82 ?

 

They need to do better than that to be respectable...

    • Todd_L and mori0189 like this

Doing the math with Seth's 25 man roster, looks pretty much like this:

 

(+Hunter-Willingham)+(Santana-Correia)+(Graham-Burton)+70 > 82 ?

 

They need to do better than that to be respectable...

Awesome math!!  Just wanted to point that out. :) That's all. Have a great day

    • HitInAPinch and mori0189 like this

I can't help but conclude that Tommy Milone is a reverse Phil Hughes.Hughes had terrible numbers in Yankee stadium, but he had really good stuff and decent numbers everywhere else.Good K numbers, a good HR rate everywhere else.It was a great sign and logic.Take the guy away from the terrible stadium, get decent numbers with a chance his confidence will explode and he will improve

 

Milone has a career 3.44 ERA and .699 OPS in Oakland.He left 76.3% of his runners stranded there, thanks in part to cheap pop up outs.

 

On the road, he has a career 4.48 ERA and .785 OPS.He strands only 69.3% of his runners. Only 41 players had a higher OPS last year.

 

His upside is that of a 5th starter at best and he is 28 years old.Why on earth would we give him the 5th starter role over two 25 year olds who have way more upside and are likely to outperform him? 

 

This appears to be a very tough concept for the Twins, but games in April count the same as game in July or August

    • TwinsMasochist and Vance_Christianson like this

Players like Nunez and Milone do nothing for me. Let the youngsters play! Not sure why the Twins felt they had to sign Milone when they already have a logjam going on.

Not not a big Nunez fan but don't really see any youngsters who are a better fit for what we are expecting from that spot.They traded for Milone for a number of reasons not the least of which is that he is a veteran left handed pitcher with with proven major league track record.

    • Twins Twerp likes this
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Vance_Christianson
Mar 05 2015 08:54 AM

I'd like to see May and Meyer excel this spring, and show the Twins how big that logjam is. Also, why would we put Pelfrey in the pen when we have so much young depth at AAA (Achter, Oliveros, and Tonkin). I personally would like to see our Long Relief Pitcher be Meyer or May, which ever 1 isn't the #5. I think it should go to May pending he has a good spring, and Meyer go to Long Relief so he can get a bite sized feeling of being an MLB Pitcher. If we want him or need him to be a SP (after 2-3 months) we can stretch him out in AAA for 2-3 starts. Kind of like what the Rays did with David Price. I like Milone as our #6 for the first 2-3 months as he has experience, and kick Pelfrey to the curb.

    • TiberTwins and ddouts like this
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HitInAPinch
Mar 05 2015 08:54 AM

What's going on [if anything] with Danny Santana? I didn't see his name in the box-score yesterday.

 

Seth, as it stands right now, I'd say you're right on.I'd really like to see more youth on this team, but TR's spending is killing that idea.Milone would make a lot more sense if the rest of the starting staff had more power in their fastball.Hughes and Gibson would/may be more effective as well. 

 

 

Milone has a career 3.44 ERA and .699 OPS in Oakland.He left 76.3% of his runners stranded there, thanks in part to cheap pop up outs.

 

On the road, he has a career 4.48 ERA and .785 OPS.He strands only 69.3% of his runners. Only 41 players had a higher OPS last year.

 

 

Hard time believing more foul territory helps Milone more than anyone else. You point out how much higher his road ERA is but fail to consider it is better than Gibson, Nolasco (NL) and Santana's career road ERA's. You are criticizing his worst split even though his road numbers are still about a run better than the rotation's ERA has been the last two years overall. To me the big concern is his fastball. Not because I think a guy needs to throw 95 to succeed but because I read that Milone's has dropped a couple years in a row now. 89 with a great change up and control is different than 85 with the same change up.   

    • Twins Twerp likes this

Players like Nunez and Milone do nothing for me. Let the youngsters play! Not sure why the Twins felt they had to sign Milone when they already have a logjam going on.

What created the logjam was the Santana signing. Nolasco's poor year didn't help.  I want May because I think he can be much better than a 5th starter but am not sold on Nolasco and don't write off Milone just based on 5 starts at the end of last year.  

Smart commenters, everyone hating on Nunez together, I like it. No room for a second utility infielder on this team, especially one with limited defensive and offensive ability. he doesn't do either well, or even relatively well. The only plus skill he has is losing his helmet running the basees.

Not a big fan of Nunez or Beresford but Punto is gone so who should take their place? With Arcia and Hunter in the outfield the 4th outfielder will be used defensively late plenty often. You can count on a pinch runner for Vargas regularly and you always want to keep at least one guy on the bench for injuries.  You want a bench guy with some pop and Escobar probably fits that bill but the only spot at the moment he would pinch hit for is a centerfielder. Polanco would be good but you don't want him in a reserve role at this point.  I think Escobar will get a fair amount of infield rotation but otherwise I don't think Nunez or Beresford get much duty aside from late inning defense or pinch running so kind of a non issue. Am I missing someone that would be better? I don't care for those two and would maybe prefer another relief pitcher but if you are going to keep that many on the bench what are the alternatives?   

What's going on [if anything] with Danny Santana? I didn't see his name in the box-score yesterday.

 

Seth, as it stands right now, I'd say you're right on.I'd really like to see more youth on this team, but TR's spending is killing that idea.Milone would make a lot more sense if the rest of the starting staff had more power in their fastball.Hughes and Gibson would/may be more effective as well. 

 

What's wrong with Santana? I assume nothing. I mean, Hunter and Dozier and Mauer and Plouffe and Arcia weren't in the lineup against the Gophers either. From all we've heard, he's participating fully at shortstop so far this spring. 

    • HitInAPinch likes this

Note that these are my projects as spring training games start. They won't make any final decisions on the roster for 3+ weeks yet. This is very much subject to change, and I don't have Milone's name in Red. I think May, Meyer and Pelfrey have a chance. I just think that Milone is the favorite (slight as it may be) heading into camp.

 

I also think that if Pelfrey can hit 94-95, as he has in the past, he has the kind of stuff that could play very well out of the bullpen.

Well, this post shouldn't surprise anyone......

 

they aren't making the playoffs this year. They have tons of RP types in AAA/AA. I hate the Deunsing re-sign. I hate any RP signing that isn't about getting the youngsters here, and seeing what they have. I really don't get it at all.

 

I'd rather see May or Meyer, for the same reason as above.......the only way to see what you have is to, you know, see what you have. But, I agree with Seth, it will be Milone or Pelfrey (that 2 year deal remaind mind boggling). One or both of those guys will come up for a few starts or stay up, but I'd rather they just start the year here.

 

As for the INF? I'm not sure I care all that much. Not sure what t`e options really are.

 

As for CF? I'd rather Hicks be in AAA, playing every day, until he proves he can hit a baseball to some degree.

For the 25th man, I'd prefer some type of a specialist -- speed, defense or power -- as opposed to a backup to the backups (ie Nunez).

I will say though that a Nunez is a slight improvement over the likes of a Bartlett.
    • Paul Pleiss and Sconnie like this
I don't like that Nunez has moved into "given" status, but I will concede that there aren't many other options at this point. Unless someone like Beresford outplays him all spring - I think he's "in". You certainly don't want someone like Polanco riding the bench in Nunez's place, so if those are the options, I'd rather it be Nunez who "rots" while the young guys play full time at the lower levels.
    • Twins Twerp, Dantes929, ericchri and 1 other like this

I think Meyer gets the 5th starter spot and Milone goes to the pen.  So either we give back Graham (or work out a trade) or move Pelfrey.  But, of course, injuries will impact all these decisions before April, anyway.  But I don't see Meyer starting in AAA.  He has nothing left to show there, Molitor says he doesn't want him in the pen, Ryan knows he has the most upside of any pitcher on the 40 man roster.  Even though he has options, I think he stays up - just like Gibson last year.

I read the comment in another posting that Pelfrey takes a long time to warm up and is not suited to relief.  TR has clogged up a system that we have been patiently waiting for over 4 years.  Now is not the time for older, low upside, fillers.  Youth is all I want.  Let's see that vaunted minor league produce.  Fill the bullpen and the rotation with the young guys and get Sano and Buxton up asap. 

    • Mike Sixel, TwinsMasochist and curt1965 like this

It wouldn't make sense to have Hunter around to mentor Hicks if Hicks is in AAA, so I think he is a given as well.  I also am not a fan of Nunez, but I also don't see a better option at this point.  A young guy with lots of speed and limited upside would fit the role.  Any suggestions...or do you keep Chris Herrmann as a super duper utility role?

I have advocated a Schaeffer/Hicks centerfield platoon but maybe if Rosario shows a lot we go with a Rosario/Hicks platoon and late inning lead holding outfield defense of Schaeffer, Rosario and Hicks which might actually be slightly above average rather than dramatically below average..  So essentially 5 outfielders. When Buxton gets here and Hunter is gone move Rosario to left and make Hicks the 4th outfielder with starts mostly against lefties..

Doing the math with Seth's 25 man roster, looks pretty much like this:

 

(+Hunter-Willingham)+(Santana-Correia)+(Graham-Burton)+70 > 82 ?

 

They need to do better than that to be respectable...

 

Need to subtract out Bartlett and Kubel also.

Hard time believing more foul territory helps Milone more than anyone else. You point out how much higher his road ERA is but fail to consider it is better than Gibson, Nolasco (NL) and Santana's career road ERA's. You are criticizing his worst split even though his road numbers are still about a run better than the rotation's ERA has been the last two years overall. To me the big concern is his fastball. Not because I think a guy needs to throw 95 to succeed but because I read that Milone's has dropped a couple years in a row now. 89 with a great change up and control is different than 85 with the same change up.   

 

Milone's IF fly ball rate is 16% higher at home. I think it plays a role in his splits.

 

Santana and Nolasco have an OPS of .757 and .755 on the road, versus Milone's .785.  Both of those guys have played a few seasons with different teams as well


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