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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. Spikecurveball's Avatar
      Spikecurveball -
      My deal is mostly that we had a horrible offense last year and all we came up with to help out was Kubel and Bartlett(as you mention towards the end of your article). Granted, if we are healthier this year and a few guys improve we could get a little more production out of what we have. I just want to feel like management is scratching and clawing to get us out of the cellar. It was great that we got some pitching help. But, it would be a feel good gesture for me if they could add a dandy stick to this squad who can really mash.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Yes, you can argue about Deduno and Colabello, who both had great spring trainings. They outplayed Diamond and Parmelee, who are still with the organization as fodder. So, no real loss.

      Kubel and Bartlett do bring experience. But Willingham had a horrible spring, and I'm worried about Arcia (and the Twins total strikeouts, again, this season).

      The Twins have strength in the bullpen. Tonkin, Guerra (the last of the Santana puzzle can still produce), Hoffman, Oliveros, Thompson plus any and all prosspects.

      Do we know how many of these guys will be around next year (predict).

      If Pinto produces, then we have Herrmann and Rohlfing in the wings as able backups, and you can always find another vet to stash at Triple-A (on that note, Rene Rivera and Drew Butera both broke spring training this year).

      It will be a long season.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      I think all this "It's only the 25th roster spot!" stuff misses the forest for the trees. If your 1-9 is going to be a combination of bad, easily hurt, or coming off a poor season....you'd hope your bench would at least offer you some alternatives that are at least intriguing.

      This is a lineup with huge questions, a bench with little to offer, and AAA stacked with guys like Wilkin Ramirez as the next best options. The frustration has more to do with how poorly the offensive side of the roster was constructed than about who slots in at what spot.
    1. AWOLNATION_11's Avatar
      AWOLNATION_11 -
      I'm obviously in the minority here, but I'm on board with the moves.

      Kubel is a bit questionable, but I think it is likely the FO essentially guaranteed him a roster spot when he signed a minor league deal, and if so, I don't blame Terry & Co for keeping that probable promise.

      As for Bartlett, granted he had a terrible spring and hasn't played much the last 2 years, but he's won in MN in the past plus has experience winning for one of the best managers in baseball down in Tampa. This wave of youth needs a presence in the clubhouse, and the perceived quiet lead-by-example ways of Mauer/Willingham is one thing, but a guy with a little more edge and a voice is also important. 25th spot on the roster at the expense of Parmelee is worth it in my opinion.

      Financial commitment is minimal on both and if it doesn't work out they can be jettisoned relatively painlessly.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hosken Bombo Disco View Post
      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.
      Sorry, I was going to respond to your first question about Herrmann, but then I got distracted.

      I like Herrmann, but I haven't seen enough of him to feel strongly about his long term potential to be meaningful contributor. I thought he had a chance to stick, given Gardy's aversion to using his backup catcher as a DH and Pinto should get more plate appearances than he's likely to get just from games he catches. Herrmann could have provided more flexibility than Kubel for one of those last roster spots certainly.

      On the other hand, IF the Twins think Herrmann has potential just beyond a backup role player, then he needs to be getting regular playing time and he wasn't going to get that in Minnesota tostart the season.

      If he performs well in Rochester, I would fully expect Herrmann to get his opportunity with the Twins at some point this summer.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      I think all this "It's only the 25th roster spot!" stuff misses the forest for the trees. If your 1-9 is going to be a combination of bad, easily hurt, or coming off a poor season....you'd hope your bench would at least offer you some alternatives that are at least intriguing.
      If there were truly intriguing alternatives within the organization, I'd hope that they'd be in that bad 1-9 order somewhere, not on the bench.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      If there were truly intriguing alternatives within the organization, I'd hope that they'd be in that bad 1-9 order somewhere, not on the bench.
      That's just it, Bartlett embodies precisely that problem.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      I'm in a small minority in this opinion, but my thought is that Bartlett is around more as a cheap possible alternative to Florimon than anything else.

      If he's truly around as a "chemistry whisperer" that makes it a lot worse, IMO, and confirms, for me at least, my opionion from last year that Gardenhire shouldn't be around as manager any more. I do concur the team last year had the stink of losing hanging heavily over it, but that should primarily be on the manager to fix, not the 25th guy on the roster, who quite possibly won't be here past June 1st unless things go really bad for others or unexpectedly good for him.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      That's just it, Bartlett embodies precisely that problem.
      Those options went poof this spring with the Sano injury, the baffling absence of Rosario and Buxton's wrist.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Those options went poof this spring with the Sano injury, the baffling absence of Rosario and Buxton's wrist.
      I doubt any of those, except possibly Sano, were ever realistic options this spring. And We'll never know, but I think Sano was unlikely to go north even if he was healthy and played like an AS all through spring training.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      If there were truly intriguing alternatives within the organization, I'd hope that they'd be in that bad 1-9 order somewhere, not on the bench.
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Those options went poof this spring with the Sano injury, the baffling absence of Rosario and Buxton's wrist.

      And why should the alternatives have been limited to just prospects within the organization and Ex-Twins coming back on sweetheart deals?
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Those options went poof this spring with the Sano injury, the baffling absence of Rosario and Buxton's wrist.
      Only one of those three was realistically on this roster right now.

      The problem was targeting Presley in a trade and then giving him away for nothing. That and spending the offseason acquiring guys that are husks of good players.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Actually, I'd day keeping the jasons over hermann is a pretty big something.
      Not because of anything that any of those 3 would or would not do, but because keeping hermann would allow Pinto to play everyday. With a third catcher, Pinto could dh on the days he is not catching.
      And don't tell me he will without a third catcher. Gardy has a pretty defined track record regarding this, and zebras don't change their stripes.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by AWOLNATION_11 View Post
      Financial commitment is minimal on both and if it doesn't work out they can be jettisoned relatively painlessly.
      The financial commitment would have been even less had they started in Rochester.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      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.
      Boom. Exactly.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      Actually, I'd day keeping the jasons over hermann is a pretty big something.
      Not because of anything that any of those 3 would or would not do, but because keeping hermann would allow Pinto to play everyday. With a third catcher, Pinto could dh on the days he is not catching.
      And don't tell me he will without a third catcher. Gardy has a pretty defined track record regarding this, and zebras don't change their stripes.
      I don't think there's any way Pinto was going to break camp as anything resembling a primary DH. The aspect of his game that needs to develop is defense and he should be attached to Suzuki at the hip for the first several weeks, learning how a MLB catcher prepares to call a game and works with the pitchers.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Florimon is going to play out of the gates, right? So now there is no excuse to have Bartlett instead of Herrmann on this roster. A couple of things will make this clear:

      1. If Jason Kubel is DHing EVER against LH pitching (instead of Pinto)
      2. If Bartlett starts looking bad in the OF and the Twins have to keep both Willingham and Arcia in the corners late in games.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Florimon is going to play out of the gates, right? So now there is no excuse to have Bartlett instead of Herrmann on this roster. A couple of things will make this clear:

      1. If Jason Kubel is DHing EVER against LH pitching (instead of Pinto)
      2. If Bartlett starts looking bad in the OF and the Twins have to keep both Willingham and Arcia in the corners late in games.
      Well, the reasons they might cite is that Bartlett can pinch run and play center field. I'm not sure how well he can do either relative to Hermann. Somewhat better for sure.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      I don't think there's any way Pinto was going to break camp as anything resembling a primary DH. The aspect of his game that needs to develop is defense and he should be attached to Suzuki at the hip for the first several weeks, learning how a MLB catcher prepares to call a game and works with the pitchers.
      I guess I'm not sure how DH'ing on the days he's not catching would affect any of what you just said.
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