With an almost fully stocked rotation, a complete infield, and a mostly locked-in outfield and bullpen, it’s somewhat reasonable to suggest that we have a pretty good idea what the Twins roster will look like when the club heads to the South Side to open the season on March 31.
But what might it look like come August or September? This can be sort of a fun exercise, considering the Twins aren’t expected to contend this season. That leaves the margin for ‘fun’ possibly thin as the possibility of a fourth-straight losing season hangs over the club.
Help is surely on the way, and it’s fun to dream right?
Let’s have a look at my projected Opening Day roster versus what it might look like around the end of the season:
Opening Day Projection | Season Ending Projection
C Kurt Suzuki | Josmil Pinto
1B Joe Mauer | Joe Mauer
2B Brian Dozier | Brian Dozier
3B Trevor Plouffe | Miguel Sano
SS Pedro Florimon | Danny Santana
LF Josh Willingham | Oswaldo Arcia
CF Alex Presley | Byron Buxton
RF Oswaldo Arcia | Aaron Hicks
DH Jason Kubel | Jason Kubel
Obviously one must keep in mind that all of this is sort of ‘pie in the sky’ dreaming, and that even if only 60-70 percent of it came true, that’d almost qualify one as a prophet. Pinto overtaking Suzuki is considered a foregone conclusion, and I think most people would hope for that coming sooner rather than later. The rest of the infield up to shortstop seems to be a pretty likely scenario. Santana usurping Florimon at short is a stab in the dark -- I’ll admit -- but if the Twins are committed to a youth movement, he or even Escobar would both qualify over the 27-year-old Florimon. Arcia is a much better fit in left with Hicks in right -- my opinion -- and ultimately I wonder if the Twins would move Ozzie to DH and roll with a super rangy outfield of Rosario-Buxton-Hicks when everything lines up. That could be really, really awesome. As for Kubel at DH...well, I don’t know what else to do there. Willingham is the other option, though I think he’ll be moved.
C Eric Fryer | Kurt Suzuki
IF Eduardo Escobar | Eduardo Escobar
IF/OF Chris Parmelee | Trevor Plouffe
OF Darin Mastroianni | Alex Presley
Other Possibilities: Chris Herrmann at C/OF, Eddie Rosario at 2B/OF, Chris Colabello at 1B, Jorge Polanco at IF
Suzuki really is a good, if not ideal backup. He’d be stretched playing every day, but has been in the league and can be more than helpful to show Pinto the way out there. Escobar seems to have a bright future in the organization, perhaps as a possibly more talented Denny Hocking. As an aside, did you know Hocking had a negative career WAR? The more you know, I guess. My sense is that Plouffe could hold some nice value as a corner backup/lefty masher, but I’m not sure how often that value comes to fruition in the same organization that used a first round pick on you. My sense is the Twins will try to continue to squeeze value out of Plouffe before inevitably non-tendering him down the road. That’d be too bad, as he does have a useful skill set. Presley for Mastro is simply swapping out fourth outfielders, though I prefer Mastro in that role. I don’t think the Twins concur, however. As for other possibilities, well, they are almost endless. Rosario or Polanco are probably far away on the back burner, but who thought a year ago that we’d see Pinto in September? Baseball is weird.
SP Kevin Correia | Alex Meyer
SP Ricky Nolasco | Ricky Nolasco
SP Phil Hughes | Phil Hughes
SP Mike Pelfrey | Mike Pelfrey
SP Samuel Deduno | Kyle Gibson
The rotation is complicated and simple all the same. I think the Twins move Correia, and I think Deduno has a tenuous hold on the No. 5 spot due to injuries and meltdown potential. It wouldn’t stun me to see the other following names on this depth chart at some point: Trevor May, Sean Gilmartin, Brooks Raley, Kris Johnson, Logan Darnell, and just maybe Ryan Pressly. As an aside, I expect this to be a VASTLY improved group over last year’s unit. I expect a lot of questions on this, so feel free to ask below and I’ll check in throughout the day. I’m sort of in love with the rotation on the right, to be honest.
RP Vance Worley | Caleb Thielbar
RP Scott Diamond | Ryan Pressly
RP Anthony Swarzak | Anthony Swarzak
RP Brian Duensing | Edgar Ibarra
RP Casey Fien | Casey Fien
RP Jared Burton | Michael Tonkin
CP Glen Perkins | Glen Perkins
There really is too many positions in the pen for me to feel real confident predicting much about it. Both Pressly and Thielbar pitched well enough to have Opening Day spots, but the "out of options" squeeze with Deduno, Worley, and Diamond may leave one or both on the outside looking in. I do think the club claimed Raley as a safeguard for losing Diamond, however. Nevertheless, there’s some fun potential here. Ibarra had something like a two month scoreless streak last year, and Tonkin throws the fire out of the ball (trademark Gardy). I could totally see Duensing, Burton, and maybe even Fien all moved. Bullpen help can bring back a nice haul at the deadline, and the Twins may do well to maximize value there. They may just hold onto all of them, too. Who really knows?
Now I want to hear what you think. Not just about my setup, but what yours would look like. Do you think this is close?