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  • Twins Final Cuts: Much Ado About (Almost) Nothing

    There seemed to be much consternation in some corners of the Twins blogosphere the last couple of days as the final roster decisions became evident.

    Alex Presley began spring training as a competitor for the Twins centerfield job. He leaves spring training a member of the Astros after Houston claimed him from the Twins on waivers.

    Lefty pitcher Scott Diamond and 1B/OF Chris Parmelee had inside lanes on roster spots entering camp, but neither made much of an impression on the Twins. In fact, they obviously didnít make much of an impression on anyone else, either, since both players cleared waivers. Both are now members of the Rochester Red Wings (AAA).

    Saturday, catcher Dan Rohlfing was sent to Rochester, as well, in a move that was generally expected.

    (This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com)

    Itís hard to make an argument that any of the players who didnít stick with the Twins were unfairly deprived of their roster spots. In fact, almost immediately upon learning heíd been passed over in favor of Kyle Gibson for the fifth spot in the Twins rotation, Diamond told reporters he agreed with the Twinsí decision.

    No, none of these players really impressed, so thatís not where the disagreements come from.

    The problem many fans seem to have is with regard to a couple of players that DID make the Twins Opening Day roster: veterans Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett.


    Jason Bartlett

    The argument is that neither Jason put up spring training numbers that were any better than other, younger, players who were let go.

    Thatís a valid point. Kubel hit just .196 this spring and yet, remarkably, outhit Bartlett by over 100 points. Still, both were officially added to the Twins roster on Saturday.

    I would agree with those who claim they didnít ďearnĒ their roster spots, but Iím not getting worked up over it because, frankly, nobody else earned those roster spots, either.

    Itís not a case of Bartlett and Kubel being handed spots while young players who are likely to be significant parts of the next generation of competitive Twins teams are being blocked from getting valuable Major League experience. Diamond and Parmelee could yet become serviceable MLB players, but when you project the lineups/rotations of the next great Twins teams, neither is likely to be listed.

    Likewise, while Presley certainly could contribute as a spare outfielder capable of playing some centerfield, losing him is not debilitating. By mid 2014, if the Twins decide another guy capable of playing CF would be nice to have, theyíll still have Darin Mastroianni around somewhere to call on. But, honestly, you know the Twins front office is silently hoping the next CF who joins the big league club is Byron Buxton.

    The Twins candidly stated that Bartlett and Kubel are on the roster because nobody proved they were clearly better than those two guys, they have significant Major League experience with winning ballclubs, and it was clearly felt that the young players with the Twins could benefit from seeing how that kind of veteran conducts himself on and off the field.

    That roster decisions are made based on such ďintangiblesĒ rubs some fans the wrong way. I understand that. But in the absence of tangible advantages demonstrated by someone else, I have no issue with going the route that provides some veteran leadership. And if having a couple more familiar names on the roster gives casual fans more reason to attend a game or two early in the season, too, thatís fine.

    The young players that showed that they deserved to stick with the team to open the season are on the squad. Kyle Gibson, Sam Deduno, Josmil Pinto, Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks may all be part of the next great Twins teams and all of them earned their roster spots. If any of them had been held back to make room for Bartlett and Kubel, Iíd have been disappointed.

    But thatís not what happened.

    So with the last two roster spots, the Twins decided to keep a couple guys who have more past than future on the field, yet provide a clubhouse presence that the organization thinks might be helpful in developing the aforementioned young players instead of a couple other guys who likely donít have significant futures, either. I honestly canít argue with that logic.

    The critics point out that Ron Gardenhire may be relying on Bartlett to fill in as the fourth outfielder, despite having no outfield experience at any professional level. Thatís a fair point, too. But I watched Bartlett play a few games in the outfield in Florida and I have to say he looked like he knew what he was doing out there. Enough so, anyway, for me not to get too worked up over the fact that he might see a little time out there occasionally.

    Now, if you want to argue that Bartlett and Kubel are getting roster spots that woulda-coulda-shoulda gone to other players from outside the organization that would have provided more punch to what is clearly looking like another punchless Twins offense, I heartily agree. But the decision to bypass other external options was made weeks and months ago and I see that as a separate set of decisions than what weíre talking about here.

    From what Iíve seen of the Twins pitching this spring, I think the rotation will be considerably improved over last yearís disaster. But the offense remains offensive and, at some point, I think the front office is going to realize they could haveÖ and should haveÖ done more to shore it up during the offseason.

    But fretting over whether Bartlett and Kubel should have made the team over Presley and Parmelee? Thatís the very definition of Much Ado About Nothing.

    - JC
    Comments 39 Comments
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      What about Chris Herrmann?
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Berardino is reporting that Michael Tonkin is in Chicago, in anticipation of a roster tweak. Could the Twins be trading a reliever for an outfielder?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Brian Duensing's wife is having a baby, so Tonkin is in Chicago for a few days (paternity leave).
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Good stuff JC. And I really wish that the biggest of the Twins' problems were who was going to be the last man on their bench...

      A little nit picking:

      Kyle Gibson, Sam Deduno, Josmil Pinto, Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks may all be part of the next great Twins teams
      Quick: Identify the one who does not belong with the others in that list. Hint: He will be 31 this July.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Good stuff JC. And I really wish that the biggest of the Twins' problems were who was going to be the last man on their bench...

      A little nit picking:



      Quick: Identify the one who does not belong with the others in that list. Hint: He will be 31 this July.
      Yes, Deduno is certainly a wildcard in there.
    1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
      Joe A. Preusser -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Brian Duensing's wife is having a baby, so Tonkin is in Chicago for a few days (paternity leave).
      The real question is how much trade value Duensing's new baby will have.
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      Quote Originally Posted by Joe A. Preusser View Post
      The real question is how much trade value Duensing's new baby will have.
      Or if he/she can play short. Congrats to the Duensings, and to Tonkin as well, even if his is short-lived.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Factually, it is much ado about (almost) nothing.

      Symbolically, it is representative of the uninspired course that this organization has been following for (more) than the past three years.

      How many teams seek to change "team chemistry" through the 25th man on their roster? Teams change team chemistry by changing the leadership of the organization -- the GM and/or the manager. And then they may make some additions or deletions to the roster that contribute to a change in chemistry.

      Will Bartlett (or Kubel) for that matter make or break this team? No. But it just demonstrates that the "old boys club" atmosphere is still in place in Minnesota. Same old, same old.
    1. lukingood's Avatar
      lukingood -
      My issue with decisions that have been made is Gardy's reluctance to take steps that would improve the punch of this team. An example would be having a platoon in right field. Does anyone truly think that Arcia is going to light it up vs. left-handed pitching? And if he does occasionally use a right-handed bat in that situation, is it going to be Bartlett? Really? Therein lies the frustration of a Twins fan. I truly would be happy if the Twins could finish .500 this season and be able to put up a fight and be competitive in the 81 games that they lose. I get the idea of saying, "Let's wait for Buxton and Sano and Meyer." The problem is every team makes that statement about their top-tier farmhands. Weren't we hearing that same thing last year about Arcia? He would be the guy that would put us over the top. So far Arcia has looked like an average- to below-average right fielder with a slow-pitch softball swing. Hope I'm wrong is all I can say. And I'm not happy that Gardy was resigned. Please feel free to point out where I am wrong. I could use the encouragement.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Good stuff JC. And I really wish that the biggest of the Twins' problems were who was going to be the last man on their bench...

      A little nit picking:



      Quick: Identify the one who does not belong with the others in that list. Hint: He will be 31 this July.
      Thats a fair nit to pick, Thrylos, but I do believe Deduno COULD be part of the next wave of competitive Twins teams, where I can't say the same of Parmelee and Presley. That was my point and I'll own it, despite Deduno's age.
    1. Since71's Avatar
      Since71 -
      Quote Originally Posted by lukingood View Post
      My issue with decisions that have been made is Gardy's reluctance to take steps that would improve the punch of this team. An example would be having a platoon in right field. Does anyone truly think that Arcia is going to light it up vs. left-handed pitching? And if he does occasionally use a right-handed bat in that situation, is it going to be Bartlett? Really? Therein lies the frustration of a Twins fan. I truly would be happy if the Twins could finish .500 this season and be able to put up a fight and be competitive in the 81 games that they lose. I get the idea of saying, "Let's wait for Buxton and Sano and Meyer." The problem is every team makes that statement about their top-tier farmhands. Weren't we hearing that same thing last year about Arcia? He would be the guy that would put us over the top. So far Arcia has looked like an average- to below-average right fielder with a slow-pitch softball swing. Hope I'm wrong is all I can say. And I'm not happy that Gardy was resigned.



      Please feel free to point out where I am wrong. I could use the encouragement.
      Exactly and well said !!!
    1. drock2190's Avatar
      drock2190 -
      Quote Originally Posted by lukingood View Post
      My issue with decisions that have been made is Gardy's reluctance to take steps that would improve the punch of this team. An example would be having a platoon in right field. Does anyone truly think that Arcia is going to light it up vs. left-handed pitching? And if he does occasionally use a right-handed bat in that situation, is it going to be Bartlett? Really? Therein lies the frustration of a Twins fan. I truly would be happy if the Twins could finish .500 this season and be able to put up a fight and be competitive in the 81 games that they lose. I get the idea of saying, "Let's wait for Buxton and Sano and Meyer." The problem is every team makes that statement about their top-tier farmhands. Weren't we hearing that same thing last year about Arcia? He would be the guy that would put us over the top. So far Arcia has looked like an average- to below-average right fielder with a slow-pitch softball swing. Hope I'm wrong is all I can say. And I'm not happy that Gardy was resigned. Please feel free to point out where I am wrong. I could use the encouragement.
      Why platoon Arcia so early in his career? Let him get the at bats and after a season or two then platoon him if there's a noticeable difference.
    1. tjsyam921's Avatar
      tjsyam921 -
      I think the clean up hitter hitting .050 is a much bigger concern than Bartlett and Kubel making the club.
    1. lukingood's Avatar
      lukingood -
      As to why platoon Arcia so early, I think the Twins management too often is looking out to the future instead of looking to win today. Billy Beane has certainly used platooning in Oakland to the betterment of the franchise. Also, I may be wrong, but with that huge uppercut swing that Arcia uses, I have serious doubts about his ability to handle left-handed pitching.
    1. drock2190's Avatar
      drock2190 -
      Quote Originally Posted by lukingood View Post
      As to why platoon Arcia so early, I think the Twins management too often is looking out to the future instead of looking to win today. Billy Beane has certainly used platooning in Oakland to the betterment of the franchise. Also, I may be wrong, but with that huge uppercut swing that Arcia uses, I have serious doubts about his ability to handle left-handed pitching.
      I just looked it up, he hit 5 points BETTER from the left handed side last season.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Im with drock. I'm hoping Arcia is in the heart of the order for the next few years and he wont learn to hit lefties sitting on the bench. I also dont believe many, if any, were claiming "let's wait for Arcia" a year ago. Nobody was expecting him to be able to single handedly turn the team around.

      I want to see a more competitive team this year, too, but it will be a development year, theres just no way around that.

      Rochester looks loaded for bear and I won't be surprised to see a much different and more interesting team in Minnesota in July than they have in April.
    1. jimv2's Avatar
      jimv2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      Thats a fair nit to pick, Thrylos, but I do believe Deduno COULD be part of the next wave of competitive Twins teams, where I can't say the same of Parmelee and Presley. That was my point and I'll own it, despite Deduno's age.
      I'm with you, JC. WHile I don't think that Deduno will be part of that starting rotation, age 31 is not old for a reliever, He could well have 5 or 6 years left, maybe even more, and great teams have relievers with filthy stuff.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Platoon Kubel, perfectly fine. Platoon Arcia? It's way too soon to permanently pigeon-hole him. You're not winning much this season, now is the perfect time to give him every last look possible as major league lefties.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Cricket, what I read from the article is that much ado was given on the final spring training cuts based on universally poor spring training performances. You didn't mention Chris Herrmann - how would you measure his youth, position flexibility, and actually pretty good spring training performance against the decision to go with guys like Kubel, Colabello, or Bartlett. I ask because I was pulling for Herrmann.
    1. Deduno Abides's Avatar
      Deduno Abides -
      I had been strongly against bringing Kubel and Bartlett north, for the usual reasons - lack of spring performance, limited chance of participating in future team improvement, etc. - but am now coming around to the decision.

      Whether you think this team will win 65 or 75 games (does anyone expect more?), two months of Kubel and Bartlett, even if they are terrible, will not make meaningfully change the result negatively from what Parmalee or Presley would have produced. If they are terrible, and the team otherwise is performing well, they will be replaced.

      If they are adequate, however, but the team is on path for another 65-70 win season, the explanation that was given about their value in the clubhouse makes sense. As veterans who have won and lost, they will likely roll more with the ups and downs of the team's and their personal performance. In that situation, they are more likely than Parmalee, Presley or others to remind the rest of the clubhouse that they are playing a fun game that has lots of ups and downs, not to get stuck in the downs, and to keep focusing on doing your best everyday. K and B may not worry as much about how many at-bats they get each week and whether they performed well enough to keep their jobs. If K and B have this attitude, they will benefit the other younger players on the team. Presley and others, perhaps, could handle the situation differently, by focusing on what it means to him and his future, which would not benefit other players who are bigger parts of the team's future.
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