Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Should the Twins have started with this roster?

When the Twins broke camp for spring training, there were a few surprises as to who was going to head north with the team for Opening Day. Chris Parmelee and Sean Burroughs had made the team after decent springs. Alexi Casilla and Danny Valencia were starting infielders and Liam Hendriks occupied the final rotation spot. Brian Dozier also had a good spring but he had never spent a full season at Double-A so some more seasoning might have been required. It was assumed the team would start with three catchers but Drew Butera found himself in Rochester to begin the year.

Six weeks into the 2012 campaign and the Twins have made a lot of adjustments to try and find a way to win with a club struggling in multiple areas. Parmelee was optioned to Rochester on Tuesday and he will join other Opening Day roster players like Burroughs, Valencia, and Hendriks. Out of options and with nowhere to put him, Casilla has played his way into a utility role with the club. Thinking he should have made the team out of spring training, Dozier has come up and made an impact in the middle infield for the Twins.

With all of the moving parts so far for the Twins in 2012, there is a question that comes to mind. Should the Twins have started the season with the current roster?

With health concerns surrounding Justin Morneau, it made sense for the Twins to have Chris Parmelee on the roster. He started at first on Opening Day and he was a consistent starter for the first couple of weeks. His bat never got going and he struggled by hitting .179/.250/.262 with zero home runs. This lead to him losing playing time and Joe Mauer seeing more time at first base. At the beginning of the year, it looked like Morneau would be the full-time DH but now he will try to stay healthy as the starting first baseman.

Sean Burroughs was a feel good story for the Twins when the team broke camp because he had not been on an Opening Day roster since all of his off field baseball issues. Some bad at-bats made it hard to keep him on the roster but he is helping the Red Wings to win games in the International League. His veteran presence might have been a good thing to have with the Twins but the team needed other options on the bench. Burroughs became the odd-man out when the Twins needed his roster spot.

This story has played out before with Alexi Casilla. He was almost guaranteed a starting job with the Twins coming out of spring training and now that role has been taken away from the middle infielder. Casilla has seen Dozier and Jamie Carroll take over the middle infield positions while he is relegated to back-up duty. It seems more fitting to have Casilla in the utility role for the Twins because he can play multiple positions and it is nice to have a true back-up shortstop. Plus, he doesn't seem to thrive when he is an everyday starter for a full year.

Following a rough 2011 season for Valencia, his slow start in 2012 did not help his cause. His defense continues to be shaky at third base but the real truth is the Twins need more production out of his position. The team could handle having a solid bat at third with some questionable defense. They could also be ok with a good defensive player with not a lot of offensive upside. But without a glove or a bat at third, it makes it tough for the team to continue to pencil Valencia's name into the line-up.

At the end of last year, Hendriks got a taste of the big leagues but he was not outstanding in his limited amount of starts. The Twins were forced to put Hendriks in the rotation out of spring training because of other problems in the rotation. Since Hendriks only had a brief taste of Triple-A last season, there could be some bumps and bruises along the way. It will be good for him to find some success in Rochester and then make a return trip to Minnesota at some point later this year.

Many followers of the Twins thought the team would leave spring training with three catchers on the roster. Ryan Doumit had been brought in to be a back-up catcher and to play some other roles on the team. Mauer would be the starter but he would also need to spend time at other positions. This meant it would make sense to have another catcher on the roster to be available in emergency situations. Butera is back with the club and it looks like he will continue to see playing time when specific pitchers are on the mound.

There have been other players to make the trip from Rochester to Minnesota. Scott Diamond and PJ Walters have entered the rotation to take the spots of Hendriks and Francisco Liriano. As mentioned earlier, Dozier has slid nicely into the role of shortstop and the Twins hope he can stay there for the foreseeable future. Ben Revere started the year with the team but was sent down to get more playing time. But overall, the shake-ups with the roster have been plentiful to start the 2012 year.
The additions of players like Erik Komatsu and Darin Mastroianni could never be predicted when the team left Fort Myers. The front office has not been shy about moving players around and with the way the Twins are playing, there is no reason they should be shy about it.

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