Reusse's Reality: Twins, 1 through 28
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I'm stealing this idea from ESPN.com and, specifically, Gordon Edes, the Red Sox writer for ESPN Boston. Gordon was given the job of rating Boston's Opening Day roster (plus players on the disabled list) based on how they are expected to perform and their anticipated importance to the team.
I'm trying this with the Twins, who as a group of players are expected to perform as the fifth-place team in the American League Central for a third consecutive season.
There are three pitchers who will open on the DL - starter Scott Diamond and relievers Tim Wood and Anthony Swarzak - rated along with the 25 who appear set to be in Minneapolis for the Twins' opener on Monday.
I've also included the ages for the players as of July 1, 2013, which is roughly the halfway point of the season. What becomes clear in noting the ages is the Twins will not be fielding a young club to start the fourth season at Target Field.
Rating the Twins:
1/ Joe Mauer (30). He had a bounce-back season in 2012, alternating between catcher, first base and designated hitter. The hope by him and the club is that he'll start more than 100 games at catcher. He's going to be a father of twins this season, and seemed loose and more outgoing this spring.
2/ Glen Perkins (30). He's going to be the closer and anchor for a bullpen that was the team's lone strength in 2012, but was largely awful in exhibitions this spring.
3/ Justin Morneau (32). He's healthy and looking strong entering his free-agent season. If he's productive and the Twins are buried at midseason, there will be many rumors of a Morneau trade, which doesn't figure in this ranking.
4/ Josh Willingham (34). Old-fashioned right-handed power hitter: be ready for the inside fastball, and if you get it, swing hard and pull the ball to left field. Same situation as Morneau. If he's productive again and Twins are also-rans, trade rumors will be flying in July.
5/ Aaron Hicks (23). His first plate appearance in the big leagues will be leading off the bottom of the first against Detroit's Justin Verlander on Opening Day. His track record in the minors was to start slow, then pick up considerably around June 1. Hopefully, the Twins don't panic if he's hitting .210 on May 1, because he's the only hope to be an every-day asset in center field.
6/ **Scott Diamond (26). The lefty will open the season on DL. He's going to pitch a couple more times in Fort Myers and is expected to make a start for the Twins on April 12. He's not exactly Clayton Kershaw, but what was seen from the rest of 'em this spring kept him as the Twins' starter most likely to succeed.
7/ Ryan Doumit (32). Outstanding acquisition by the Twins in 2012. Asssuming the Twins don't get nervous and bring back no-hit Butera, he'll catch 50 games and be the DH in another 70 or 80. (Note: There's a suspicion here that Willingham also will get more duty as a DH than in 2012).
8/ Jared Burton (32). The righthander with the great changeup was so good last season that it's hard to hold this spring against him.
9/ Vance Worley (25). An Opening Day starter should be higher on a list of expected team performers, but I'm skeptical of what he's going to bring in the American League.
10/ Brian Dozier (26). Even with his struggles last season, I like this player ... particularly now that he's playing second base.
11/ Mike Pelfrey (29). He'd be the anticipated ace of this bunch of starters, if not for uncertainty of his rapid comeback from Tommy John surgery.
12/ Chris Parmelee (25). He's not going to be a gazelle in right field. There's some life in his bat. I'm guessing, if Darin Mastroianni and Wilkin Ramirez both stay as extra outfielders, you will see what's close to a platoon with Parmelee.
14/ Brian Duensing (30). Back in the bullpen where he belongs, but unimpressive for most of the spring. He has to get his act together to be trusted to share the setup role with Burton.
15/ Pedro Florimon (26). He's every-day shortstop, so he's very important, but he's not going to hit and has to get away from making casual errors.
16/ Darin Mastroianni (27). He's going to be in lineup as a corner outfielder more than you might expect. Otherwise. Hicks is going to need a Go Kart to cover the gaps between Willingham and Parmelee.
17/ Eduardo Escobar (24). He's going to play quite a bit, too ... and also be available as a third catcher, just in case manager Ron Gardenhire's paranoid thoughts about having Mauer and Doumit both in the lineup come to fruition some day.
18/ Wilkin Ramirez (27). He's been a pro for 10 years, with little opportunity in the majors. Was best player in Rochester last summer. He has some power.
19/ Jamey Carroll (39). He's a pro. Don't know how much he'll play.
20/ Cole De Vries (28). If there was a role for a big-league pitcher in "True Blood,'' it could be played by the Eden Prairie righthander. He can't be killed.
21/ Kevin Correia (32). Long track record as a subpar starter.
22/ Liam Hendriks (24). The classic 4A pitcher - too good for the International League, so far not good enough for the American League.
23/ Ryan Pressley (24). Rule 5 draftee with a good arm. Young enough to get better, unlike several of his bullpen counterparts.
24/ Josh Roenicke (30). Journeyman who showed little this spring.
25/ Casey Fien (29). See Roenicke.
26/ **Tim Wood (30). Another journeyman; must be some reason Twins are having him nurse injury and not subject him to waivers. Might be worst at holding on runners in history of game.
27/ Tyler Robertson (25). Not enough strikes. I'm guessing Pedro Hernandez replaces him as a third bullpen lefty sooner rather than later.
28/ **Anthony Swazak (27). I'm guessing we've seen Anthony throw his last big-league pitches for the Twins.
**On 40-player roster and disabled list.