Sunday, March 28, 2010

The roster takes shape

The "battle" for the 25th spot on the roster has been decided, barring a last-week injury or trade.

Alexi Casilla (left) stays. Matt Tolbert has been optioned to Triple A, and Jacque Jones has been told that he's going to be assigned to Triple A as well, but gets to make the trip north for the exhibition games next weekend at Target Field.

The decisive aspect, as suggested here last week, appears to be roster status. Casilla is out of options and would have to clear waivers to be sent down, and the organization didn't dare risk losing his .259 slugging percentage. (Note: that last clause was sarcasm.) Tolbert has options left, and Jones— who had the best spring of the three, for as little as that's worth — isn't even on the 40 man roster.

This is in keeping with recent tradition of carrying a player who has no real purpose.

Assuming — risky business — that Dan Gladden's broadcasting accurately reflects the thinking of Ron Gardenhire and Co., the Casilla-in-the-outfield trials this spring were found wanting.

Which means the alternative center fielder is Michael Cuddyer, and playing him in CF means moving him from right and putting the regular DH, Jason Kubel, in right.

This presents problems as an in-game move — if Denard Span sprains an ankle in the third inning, do you really want to go without the DH the rest of the way? — and problems defensively, as an outfield of Delmon Young, Cuddyer and Kubel might be as slow as any you've ever seen.

The only real decision pending on position players now is the backup catcher. Drew Butera is deemed the favorite for the job, although I'm rooting for Wilson Ramos to get it.


  1. Incredibly shortsighted (i.e., stupid) to not have a defensive outfielder for emergencies and late-inning replacements. I personally would trim a pitcher and add another position player. 11 arms is more than sufficient, but I guess I'm just old-fashioned. I have no interest in LOGYs.

  2. Casilla has plenty of purpose. He's Jim Thome's legs when he pinch hits or reaches base as a DH late in the game. If Jacque Jones makes the team, then you're down to one backup infielder. I'd rather have a young speedy infielder forced to play the outfield than an aging corner outfielder forced to play the infield. The problem isn't Casilla, Tolbert or Jones. It's the Twins' insistence on having a seven-man bullpen and a player on the bench who can't plan any position. That forces other players to become more flexible with what defensive position they play.

    I would expect roster sizes to grow to 26 some time in the next few years. If not, super utility players or players who can hit and pitch in relief will start getting big bucks.