Mackey: Twins' 25-man roster projection, version 3.0
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JUPITER, Fla. -- Chris Parmelee has thrown a wrench into the equation, in a good way.
Minnesota Twins decision-makers were very pleased with how Parmelee performed in his major league debut last September, but internally they understood he might need Triple-A seasoning to start the 2012 season.
Not to mention, Justin Morneau was slated to be the team's starting first baseman, if healthy, with Trevor Plouffe, Ben Revere, Josh Willingham, Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit all occupying the DH and corner outfielder slots in one way or another.
Well, Parmelee is slugging nearly .600 this spring and has shown such a mature approach at the plate that manager Ron Gardenhire and general manager Terry Ryan are looking for ways to fit him onto the 25-man roster.
This is a little bit complicated, considering the Twins also may need a third catcher and more middle-infield depth.
Gardenhire is looking for versatility. Third baseman Sean Burroughs started at first base on Sunday, second baseman Luke Hughes played a few innings at shortstop on Saturday, and Ben Revere has played all three outfield positions this spring.
With all of this in mind, here's another look at what the 25-man roster could look like -- not necessarily based on what this scribe thinks the Twins should do, but instead what the Twins likely will do:
Changes from Version 2: None.
Baker returns to Grapefruit League action on Monday to test out his previously inflamed elbow. Even if all goes well, he could be bumped from his originally-scheduled start on April 9 to the back of the rotation, which would put him in line to make his first start on April 15. If that's the case, the Twins could place Baker on the DL and recall an extra relief pitcher for the first week of the season. Marquis has been gone all week tending to a family issue, but as of right now he is still expected to make his first start. Liriano and Blackburn have both pitched extremely well this spring, which means very little but counts as a positive sign after both struggled mightily in the regular season last year. Pavano is Pavano.
Other starters on radar: RHP Liam Hendriks and RHP Anthony Swarzak
Changes from Version 2: Rule-5 pick Terry Doyle was sent back to the Chicago White Sox after inducing only one swing-and-a-miss in 83 pitches over his last two starts. Right-hander Lester Oliveros impressed the Twins with his mid-90's fastball, but they sent him to Triple-A camp to work on location. Alex Burnett has had major command issues this spring, so his spot is no longer secure.
One high-ranking Twins official said last week that Maloney and Swarzak are both close to locks. Both offer versatility, because both are starters-turned-relievers who can go multiple innings if necessary. Maloney has 14 strikeouts in 11 1/3 scoreless innings this spring. Beyond that, nothing is certain. Burton, despite being a non-roster invite, is believed to have separated himself from the pack. Waldrop throws a heavy sinker and hasn't walked anybody in six Grapefruit League innings. Burnett's arm and stuff receives rave reviews within the organization, but his command has been off almost all spring.
Waldrop is the most likely candidate to induce a double-play ball with runners on base, so he makes the most sense. Twins' relievers lacked that ability for the most part last year.
Position players (13)
Changes from Version 2: Drew Butera removed.
This is where the number crunching gets interesting. All spring, it was believed the Twins would keep three catchers, mostly because Gardenhire planned to use Doumit as his primary DH. Well, Morneau has been the team's primary DH over the last two weeks, with Doumit playing catcher, first base and some corner outfield. If Parmelee makes the team, it likely decreases the chances of a third catcher landing on the roster.
Other catchers on radar: J.R. Towles* and Rene Rivera, but barely.
Changes from Version 2: Tsuyoshi Nishioka was sent to Triple-A. Parmelee and Burroughs added.
Gardenhire and Ryan are playing their cards close to the vest here. Behind Casilla and Carroll, the Twins' best shortstop options are Brian Dozier and Pedro Florimon. But Florimon's bat seems nowhere near ready for the major leagues, and Dozier only makes sense if he starts every day. But even Dozier (.226/.294/.387) has cooled lately.
Hughes is destroying every fastball he sees, and he's out of minor-league options. He's in, and he provides plenty of value against left-handed pitching.
With that, it seems as if there are two open roster slots and three guys competing for them -- Butera, Parmelee and Burroughs.
Keeping only three true middle infielders would be somewhat risky, especially after the Twins experienced so many injury problems last year. But Casilla and Carroll can both play shortstop and second base. And if an injury lingers, Dozier is just a phone call away.
It's also possible the Twins look outside the organization for utility help.
Other infielders on radar: Dozier*, Florimon* and Michael Hollimon
Changes from Version 2: None.
Other than Willingham moving from right field to left field, no real surprises here. Signs point toward Revere being a fourth, roaming outfielder, possibly even as a late-inning defensive replacement for Willingham at times. If Parmelee makes the team, it's likely he will see time in right field as well.
Other outfielders on radar: Joe Benson and Brian Dinkelman*
* Not currently on the 40-man roster
# Out of minor league options