If there's one word to describe the roster decisions that the Twins have made this spring, it's "safe." In every circumstance they took the experienced and veteran option over the younger, higher-upside option. Blaine Boyer and Brian Duensing over Michael Tonkin and Caleb Thielbar. Jordan Schafer and Shane Robinson over Aaron Hicks or Eddie Rosario. Tommy Milone and Mike Pelfrey over Alex Meyer and Trevor May.
None of these moves are particularly surprising, but it's at the very least interesting that the Twins have ended up making what has more or less become a uniform decision: experience over youth. At some point this year that will change, so the good news is that we have a lot to look forward to this summer.
As usual, here's the opening day roster along with the rosters from the last few seasons.
|C||Kurt Suzuki||Kurt Suzuki||Joe Mauer||Joe Mauer||Joe Mauer|
|1B||Joe Mauer||Joe Mauer||Justin Morneau||Chris Parmelee||Justin Mornea|
|2B||Brian Dozier||Brian Dozier||Brian Dozier||Alexi Casilla||Tsuyoshi Nishioka|
|3B||Trevor Plouffe||Trevor Plouffe||Trevor Plouffe||Danny Valencia||Danny Valencia|
|SS||Danny Santana||Pedro Florimon||Pedro Florimon||Jamey Carroll||Alexi Casilla|
|LF||Oswaldo Arcia||Josh Willingham||Josh Willingham||Josh Willingham||Delmon Young|
|CF||Jordan Schafer||Aaron Hicks||Aaron Hicks||Denard Span||Denard Span|
|RF||Torii Hunter||Oswaldo Arcia||Chris Parmelee||Ben Revere||Michael Cuddyer|
|DH||Kennys Vargas||Jason Kubel||Ryan Doumit||Justin Morneau||Jason Kubel|
|Bench||Chris Herrmann, C||Josmil Pinto, C||Jamey Carroll, IF||Trevor Plouffe, 3B/OF||Jim Thome, DH|
|Shane Robinson, OF||Chris Colabello, 1B/OF||Darin Mastroianni, OF||Ryan Doumit, C/1B||Drew Butera, C|
|Eduardo Escobar, IF||Eduardo Escobar, IF||Eduardo Escobar, IF||Luke Hughes, IF||Matt Tolbert, IF|
|Eduardo Nunez, UT||Jason Bartlett, UT||Wilkin Ramirez, OF||Sean Burroughs, IF||Jason Repko, OF|
|Rotation||Phil Hughes||Ricky Nolasco||Vance Worley||Carl Pavano||Francisco Liriano|
|Ricky Nolasco||Phil Hughes||Kevin Correia||Francisco Liriano||Carl Pavano|
|Kyle Gibson||Kevin Correia||Mike Pelfrey||Liam Hendriks||Brian Duensing|
|Tommy Milone||Mike Pelfrey||Liam Hendriks||Nick Blackburn||Nick Blackburn|
|Mike Pelfrey||Kyle Gibson||Cole De Vries||Scott Baker|
|Bullpen||Glen Perkins||Glen Perkins||Glen Perkins||Matt Capps||Joe Nathan|
|Casey Fien||Jared Burton||Jared Burton||Glen Perkins||Matt Capps|
|Tim Stauffer||Casey Fien||Casey Fien||Brian Duensing||Jose Mijares|
|Brian Duensing||Brian Duensing||Brian Duensing||Jared Burton||Kevin Slowey|
|Blaine Boyer||Samuel Deduno||Tyler Robertson||Matt Maloney||Dusty Hughes|
|J.R. Graham||Caleb Thielbar||Josh Roenicke||Alex Burnett||Glen Perkins|
|Aaron Thompson||Anthony Swarzak||Ryan Pressly||Jeff Gray||Jeff Manship|
40 and 25-man roster implications
Updated to reflect Ervin Santana's suspension.
There are a couple of things worth noting on the position player side. First and foremost is the health of Josmil Pinto, who would have been the team's backup catcher had he not suffered a concussion. Now that Pinto will be starting the season by rehabbing in the minor leagues it wouldn't be surprising to see him spend the first few weeks of the season in Triple-A.
The second thing I wanted to point out is just how shallow Minnesota's depth is on the 40-man roster where Major League experience is concerned. Position players available to be called up include Pinto, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Aaron Hicks, Max Kepler, and Eddie Rosario. This was part of Terry Ryan's challenge this season: building a roster that had enough experience to compete at the Major League level while leaving enough space on the 40-man roster for the wave of prospects that needed protection. The result is that when the Twins inevitably require help from the minor leagues, there isn't really any Major League depth to call upon.
Whether that's a good thing or bad thing is open for your own interpretation. Ideally, teams like to cycle in two or maybe three new players over the course of a season that could have an opportunity to help the team in the future. In Minnesota's case, there are at least half a dozen prospects that could debut in 2015.
On the pitching side, the Twins have a good deal of depth. Alex Meyer and Trevor May both deserve Major League innings, and the sooner they get them the better. Bullpen depth includes A.J. Achter, Logan Darnell, Ryan Pressly, Caleb Thielbar, and Michael Tonkin.
Overall, the most exciting thing about this roster is the talent floor. In recent seasons it's been pretty easy to look down the 40-man roster and pick our five or six pitchers that could easily be replaced as well as three or four position players. It's a bit more difficult to identify those players this year, even if the Major League team is likely to finish below .500.
How does the roster look to you this year?