Saturday, November 7, 2009

Previewing the bench

Assuming that the Twins maintain a 12-man pitching staff again — which seems likely — that leaves room on the 25-man roster for a four-man bench.

For the sake of this exercise, let's assume that the projected lineup of the previous post is filled out with Danny Valencia at third base.

The likely group of reserves:

1) Jose Morales, catcher (above). Would replace Mike Redmond in the role. Regarded as a better hitter than receiver, had success as a pinch hitter(6 for 15 with three RBIs). Switch hitter, but a better hitter left-handed.

2) Brendan Harris, infielder. Hits well enough for middle infield, but his defense isn't. Right-handed hitter, most useful as a platoon player.

3) Open slot, outfielder. Position vacated by Friday's trade. A glove and legs — the priority here is somebody who can handle center field; will also be asked to be defensive sub for Delmon Young. Ideally would also throw well enough to play right, but that's optional.

4) Infield glove. Matt Tolbert or Alexi Casilla. Tolbert probably has the inside track on this job.

Of course, it's possible that Tolbert will be the third baseman, and even possible that Ron Gardenhire will opt to make that fourth bench slot a third catcher, which would free up Morales for pinch-hitting duties.

Running the bench has not been a Gardenhire strong suit. He generally has somebody – even with a short bench like this projected one — who's just rotting, without a useful role. He carried Luis Rodriguez for two years without any real purpose.

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