Also, looking back at my list, I'm not really seeing any players where the Twins might regret how they approached their service time. Milton and Guzman could be candidates, two guys who received the Mauer/Hicks treatment and opened their first seasons at the MLB level. Both struggled as rookies, respectively, and it would have been quite easy to argue that both should have spent at least half of those seasons in the minor leagues, if not the whole season. But in the end, both made significant progress in their second season and signed multi-year contracts covering their first year of free agency anyway, just like Mauer.
I'm very confident that if Hicks turns out to be a quality major league regular, he will do the same and this service time issue will be mostly moot.
That's true, although it's less of an issue at the start of their careers (and it probably has even less effect now that the draft and international signings have spending caps). The most notable service time issues I remember are several years into a player's career, like Hardy, Perkins, and maybe even Lohse when we optioned him to AAA in 2006. Bartlett was close in 2006 and perhaps it contributed to his eventual trade. Otherwise, you can almost always justify keeping a complete rookie down a little longer -- Hicks made that tough for the Twins this spring, but Wil Myers made it easy for Tampa with a pedestrian spring performance.
There may be a positive side effect. Players must resent when teams mess with their service time and play the three week game.
Maybe it gets noticed by guys that will be drafted into the organization. Maybe they are more likely to take a reasonable contract when the Twins don't have a track record of messing around on the other end by playing with service time.