Yeah, it's premature. But it's also important. What are your thoughts on the Twins' potential playoff roster?Here are the rules, as far as I can tell:
- Players listed on the postseason roster have to be on either the active roster or disabled list (or some equivalent list, like bereavement) on August 31
- Players on the postseason roster who are unavailable for the playoffs can be replaced with someone who was in the organization on August 31
- In the event of a replacement, a pitcher must replace a pitcher, and a position player must replace a position player
To me, this strongly indicates that the Twins have another roster move coming before the end of the month - there's no need for a 12-man pitching staff in the postseason. Pitching rotations are trimmed to, at most, four, and the added bench flexibility is important in the postseason, where there is more pressure to maximize pinch hitter leverage and the potential to play by National League rules. My guess is that a pitcher with options (Gabino, maybe?) is "sent down" on or near August 31st to make room for Jose Morales, although said pitcher would probably be recalled as soon as possible in September.
The Twins should have plenty of room to experiment with the bullpen this September - there are a bunch of pitchers currently on the disabled list. Any or all of them could be added to the playoff roster, basically allowing for an open September competition for the last few spots on the pitching staff.
With that, here is the Twins' current active roster and disabled list - the players in boldface are ones I'd consider locks for the postseason roster:
IF: Cabrera, Casilla, Crede, Harris, Morneau, Punto
OF: Cuddyer, Gomez, Kubel, Span, Young
C: Mauer, Redmond
SP: Baker, Blackburn, Pavano, Duensing, Gabino
RP: Nathan, Mijares, Guerrier, Crain, Humber, Manship, Keppel
DL: Bonser, Liriano, Neshek, Perkins, Slowey
As I mentioned before, I expect Morales to be called up in time to be added to the postseason roster. Even though the playoffs are pretty spread out, which should allow Mauer to get plenty of rest, it would be good to at least have the option available to let him DH. For that matter, Morales would provide a competent switch-hitting bat off the bench, which is always a useful thing to have.
Astute observers will notice that I have listed just six pitchers as "locks" for eleven spots. I honestly don't know that there are any more than that. I wouldn't be surprised to see any of the other six current pitchers left off the playoff roster, and Gabino is the only one I'd be very surprised to see on it. My guess is that Liriano will be listed (if he comes back, I'd assume they'll play him), but at this point, the others are almost like picking out of a hat. Here's my best guess:
Baker, Blackburn, Pavano, Nathan, Mijares, Guerrier, Duensing, Crain, Neshek, Liriano, Slowey
OUT: Boof, because he might come off the DL in September, and you don't want to run the risk that he comes back and sucks and you're stuck with him. Keppel, Manship, Gabino, and Humber are out because no one outside their immediate families trusts them with less than a 30-run lead. Perkins, partly because I forgot about him when making the list and partly because of the same reason as Boof - you don't want to get stuck with him if he comes back crappy.
IN: Liriano, because if they pull him off the DL, it's likely because they see something good in his rehab, and he'd be on the lock list if he were healthy, terrible though he's been. Crain, partly out of loyalty, partly because he's actually been decent the last month. Duensing, because he's the best of what's left.
The way I see it, September will be an open competition for two or three (depending on Liriano) back-of-the-bullpen spots between the guys on the "OUT" list and whoever gets a September call-up. May the best men win, both for the sake of the making the postseason, and for the postseason itself.
NOTE: I did not address the brewing Joe Crede situation, because even if he's placed on the DL, he'll almost certainly still be put on the postseason roster, with either Valencia or Buscher taking his spot if he's out for the playoffs.