Three-Bagger: Two Catchers, Dozier & Parmelee
Drew Butera and J.R. Towles appeared to be battling for the third catcher job, but both will open the campaign in Triple-A, meaning that Ron Gardenhire will have Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit as his sole catching options. There's a measure of risk here but I think it's the right choice.
Mauer and Doumit have both been injured often throughout their careers. If one goes down and lands on the disabled list, the Twins can easily have Butera or Towles up the next day; but, should one suffer a minor injury, it could leave Gardenhire without a backup for a few few days and eliminate Doumit's valuable flexibility.
In the long run, I believe the risk here is healthily outweighed by the benefit of having a useful player on the bench rather than a no-hit third catcher, but this certainly seems like an instance in which Gardy is going outside of his comfort zone.
Then again, the organization as a whole has shown willingness to shy away from comfort zones this spring (the early demotion of Tsuyoshi Nishioka standing out as a prime example) and given where the Twins are coming from I think that's appropriate.
* Dozier stuck around long enough to get a good look from the coaching staff but there was no way he was going to make the team out of spring training, barring an injury to Alexi Casilla or Jamey Carroll. While Gardenhire is clearly enamored with the 24-year-old shortstop, who hit .277/.333/.511 in spring training after a strong minor-league season in 2011, Dozier still hasn't played above Double-A and isn't viewed from outside as a top-notch prospect.
If Dozier is truly ready to play in the bigs, as he claims, he can go prove it in Rochester while the Twins see what they have in Carroll and Casilla. Meanwhile, Terry Ryan is smartly downplaying the hype, saying "there is some work to be done."
Amen. That's the kind of insightful, forthright quote that we never got from Bill Smith. And Ryan is wise to temper expectations a bit, what with the manager glowing about Dozier and one local scribe hailing him as "the next big thing for the Twins."
"Let's not get too carried away with what went on in spring training," [Ryan] said. "You don't get exposed here; you don't necessarily see all the top-line pitchers; you don't see all the top-line relievers. You've got to be careful a little bit. I know that everything was fine. I don't mean to get away from the fact that we have high hopes for him, and a few others that were sent out, but be careful about anointing people in spring training just because they might have been pretty impressive."
* Of course, while Ryan is cautioning not to put too much stock into spring training performance, the Twins have also apparently elected to roll with Chris Parmelee as their Opening Day first baseman on the basis of a strong showing over the past month.
Parmelee has hit five homers in exhibition play and also went deep 12 times in the second half last year between Double-A and the majors. If that power is legit and he continues to show good plate discipline, he's got a chance to be a solid contributor, but slow-footed first basemen need to hit and the Twins are taking a leap of faith by letting the 24-year-old bypass Triple-A despite a .416 slugging percentage in 253 games at Double-A.