John Bonnes Administrator Posted March 6 Share Posted March 6 Here’s the thing about being a sports reporter: you’re looking for some drama. So spring training is a trap. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports It encourages us to give into our inherent bias and forget the things that really matter. There isn’t a lot of drama in “this guy is on the 40-man roster” and “this guy doesn’t have options.” But those are the things that matter, not giving up a grand slam on March third. (We’ll get back to that.) So your best bet for deciphering a roster battle is to start with your assumptions before spring training started, when you were soberly and objectively evaluating the probable 26-man roster. And when I did that (call it version 0.0), here’s what it looked like. (Green means pretty much locked in. Yellow means I think I know? Red means I don’t know.) C Vazquez SP Gray 1B Kirilloff SP P Lopez 2B Polanco SP Mahle 3B Miranda SP Maeda SS Correa SP Ryan LF Gallo CF Buxton CL Duran RF Kepler RP J Lopez DH Larnach RP Jax RP Thielbar Bench C Jeffers RP Pagan Bench OF Taylor RP Alcala Bench IF Farmer RP Moran Bench Gordon RP Megill Let’s walk through the changes that are and are not happening, in order of greatest impact. Donovan Solano is knocking out one of the position players. When the Twins signed Donovan Solano a major league contract two weeks ago, it likely meant one of the position players who has options was doomed. There aren’t that many: Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, and Ryan Jeffers. Jeffers is a catcher, so he’s safe. We haven’t seen Kirilloff in a game yet, but he’s supposedly on track to return early. Trevor Larnach was scratched from the lineup with a lower body injury last week but is supposed to play left field on Tuesday. But if everyone is healthy he would probably be the odd man out. So we’ll leave him off the roster, and put Kirilloff in yellow to reflect the dual challenges of getting healthy and beating out both Larnach for the last spot. Long relief appears to be a priority. It’s one thing for Twins manager Rocco Baldelli to say he wants to have a long reliever available for most games this season. It’s another to see the organization align to make that wish a reality. We’re seeing the latter. Both Baldelli and Derek Falvey have discussed a group of pitcher that could be available in long relief. This is different than designating a long reliever, like the Twins tried to do with Randy Dobnak two years ago. This means having a pool of arms available so if the long reliever throws 50-70 pitches – or maybe even 30-50 - they can be swapped out with a different option from St Paul for the next game. This gets around a couple of challenges to the strategy. It allows a long reliever to pitch in back-to-back games if necessary. And it limits the impact of last year’s new MLB rule limiting each pitcher to just five back-and-forths to the minors. With more arms you have more options. And the Twins have more arms. Cole Sands and Brent Headrick probably have the inside track because they are on the 40-man roster. Old friends Randy Dobnak and Aaron Sanchez might also be options, though that would require a further roster move. Josh Winder and Ronny Henriquez have also been mentioned by Falvey as options, though both are dealing with potential arm health issues in camp. So we’ll adjust the roster by giving one spot to a long reliever, which crowds the other three guys into two spots. I’m also going to break my rule about overreacting to game performances, and add Emilio Pagan to that group, just because the grand slam he gave up on Thursday gave me a little PTSD. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but there might be some injuries It’s early in camp, so I’m not going to adjust the any of the statuses, but we’re all keeping an eye on when we next see Kirilloff, Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton, and Nick Gordon in a game. There is no indication that they won’t all be ready by Opening Day, so, again, no changes to the chart. But baseball is a “show me” game, and the color on those spots could change in a couple more weeks if we’re not shown something soon. If any of them don’t happen, Larnach might be back on the roster. So here’s the new chart. C Vazquez SP Gray 1B Kirilloff SP P Lopez 2B Polanco SP Mahle 3B Miranda SP Maeda SS Correa SP Ryan LF Gallo CF Buxton CL Duran RF Kepler RP J Lopez DH Solano RP Jax RP Thielbar Bench C Jeffers RP Pagan/Moran Bench OF Taylor RP Moran/Alcala Bench IF Farmer RP Alcala/Megill Bench Gordon LR Sands/Headrick We'll have plenty more chances to overreact before I attack this again. Any new injury is that much closer to Opening Day, as is every game in which one of the regulars doesn't appear. We'll may see some big or clutch performances by Twins players playing in the World Baseball Classis, and their absence will absolutely create opportunities for other players trying to wedge their way onto the roster. So if you're disappointed that there isn't more change, stay tuned. The temptation to overreact and embrace drama only gets more heated going forward. View full article Squirrel 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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