This is the third series of posts where I take a look at the Twins 25 man roster. In the first two, I looked at the starting rotation and the bullpen. Today we’ll take a look at who will fill out the rest of the 25 man roster.
The way I see things working out for the Twins, there’s only one open spot on the roster not counting the bullpen that is still up for grabs. Let’s go over who will be on the roster before discussing who will be taking the last rmaining spot.
Other than Jason Marquis and Joel Zumaya, the Twins have brought in three new position players to fill out the rest of the roster. The biggest addition to the Twins is outfielder Josh Willingham, a free agent that they signed from the Oakland Athletics. Willingham is slated to play right field, a position he’s not played a lot in his career.
Willingham has hit 132 career HR. Last season, he hit 29 HR, 15 of those were hit at Oakland’s home ball park, one of the worst ball parks to hit home runs in. the down side to Willingham is he strikes out a lot, having struck out 150 times last season, but he did walk 56 times. He will pick up for the loss of offense with the departure of Michael Cuddyer.
Ryan Doumit is another key addition for the Twins that was signed as a free agent from the Pittsburg Pirates. He’s a catcher who can also play first base and also ocasionally play in the outfield. He will provide the Twins with some offense, having hit 8 HR in 218 at bats last season and driving in 30 runs. He has hit 67 total HR in seven seasons with the Pirates. Doumit will be the primary DH for the Twins and is also an option to play first base if Justin Morneau isn’t healthy or a possible third catcher.
Jamey Carroll is the third addition for the Twins. He played 146 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has an on base percentage of .359 and scored 52 runs. Carroll will be the Twins starting shortstop this season.
Joe Mauer will be the Twins primary catcher this season. Last season, Mauer suffered bilateral leg weakness early in the season. As a result, he only played in 82 games, batting .287 with 3 HR, 30 RBI, and 38 runs scored. This season, Mauer is ready to go and says that he feels a lot better than he did last spring when he arrived at camp after having offseason surgery. Mauer will be the regular catcher this season with some time spent at DH and also at first base.
Morneau hasn’t played a full season since 2008. His 2009 campaign would end with some back issues. In 2010, he was one of the best hitters in baseball before suffering a concussion at Torronto on July 7. Last season, he had an issue with his wrist and also had an issue with a nerve in his neck that prevented him from having feeling in his left hand.
As a result, Morneau only played for the first two months of the season. He went on the Disabled List to have the nerve issue fixed and didnt return until mid August. A few days later, he suffered a concussion after diving for a ball in a game against the Detroit Tigers. As a result, he didn’t have Morneau like numbers, batting .227, 4 HR, 30 RBI and 19 runs scored.
Morneau says he’s healthy and that he’s ready to go. All he needs is medical clearance to play. If Morneau can’t play first base, he will be the DH.
Alexi Cassilla will be the Twins second baseman. Last season, he played in 97 games in a season that saw him missing significant time due to a pulled hamstring. He batted .260, 2 HR, 52 runs scored and 21 RBI.
Danny Valencia is projected as being the Twins third baseman. last season saw him lead the club in RBI with 72. However, he batted only at a .246 clip with 15 HR. He also made some bonehead defensive plays.
Centerfielder Denard Span played the first two months of the season before being placed on the Dl due to a concussion suffered on a play at the plate in Kansas City when he tried to score on an inside the park homerun. Span did return at the end of the season.
When the season finished, he batted .264, 2 HR, 16 RBI and scored 37 runs. He says that he’s feeling good and is ready to go this spring.
Ben Revere is the leftfielder for the Twins. Revere got significant playing time last year while players like Delmon Young and Span were spending time on the DL. He stole 34 bases, setting a club record for a rookie.
Drew Butera will be the back up catcher to Joe Mauer. Last season, Butera saw significant playing time for the Twins while Mauer was on the DL. Butera played in 93 games batting .167 with 2 HR, 23 RBI and 17 runs scored.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka was brought in from Japan last season to play second base. After suffering a broken bone in his leg early in the season, he was moved to shortstop when he returned a couple of months later. When the season was over, Nishioka batted .226 with 19 RBI and scored 14 runs. He’s been projected to play in a utility role, playingin the middle infield.
Trevor Plouffe will probably be on the roster as the extra outfielder. Last season, he played several games at shortstop before it was decided that he might be better suited to play in the outfield. Plouffe hit 8 HR, drove in 31 runs and scored 47. If Plouffe doesn’t make the big club out of Spring Training, look for Rene Tosoni to be the extra outfielder.
As for who will take the remaining roster spot, I think it will come down to a couple of players. Sean Burroughs who was out of baseball for five years due to drug addictions is one possible candidate. Also, look for Burroughs to put a fire under Valencia to perform better. The more likely choice would be Luke Hughes who would be a utility player. Hughes right now is recovering from a sore shoulder, but indications are he’d be ready by the start of the season.