Wetmore: With a week to go before Opening Day, who will make the team?
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Only two decisions left.
OK, that may be oversimplifying things a tad.
The Twins have 29 players left in camp and will need to trim four before next Monday's Opening Day. Two decisions are slam dunks. Jason Bartlett will not make the team and nor will the third catcher left in camp, Dan Rohlfing.
That still leaves two decisions that could be very informative. After those two easy moves, the Twins will cut one pitcher and one position player, I would assume. They have a couple routes they could choose in getting the roster down to 25.
This comes with one big caveat. I still think the Twins will make a trade this week. It would make sense to trade a reliever or two, or a starter who didn't make the rotation (Sam Deduno? Scott Diamond?) and try to get a bat. The Twins wouldn't get much in return, but getting a return would be better than losing a player for nothing to the waiver wire.
The Twins have a decision to make on the pitching staff, probably. The guess here has been the Twins will head to Chicago for Opening Day with 12 pitchers on the roster. Currently there are 13.
Demoting Michael Tonkin to Rochester suggests to me that the Twins are wary of losing pitchers who are out of options. Tonkin is better than Scott Diamond, and has the upside to be the best right-handed pitcher in the bullpen this year. Yet it looks like he'll open the season in Rochester.
Here is a look at who's left:
I'd assume either they'll try to trade Scott Diamond or try to move him through waivers with the hope of assigning him to Rochester. Alternatively, they may try to trade someone else to free up one spot. Caleb Thielbar has a minor league option remaining.
The more intriguing decision to me is from among the position players.
There are 16 position players in camp. That number will need to go to 13 to allow a 12-man pitching staff, which is an assumption not a mandate.
So, after Bartlett and Rohfling are cut, who is the final position player sent packing?
It's not yet clear, but here are a few possibilities:
There are your Opening Day catchers. I'd expect Suzuki will be the starting catcher to start the season. Pinto's offensive upside is considerably higher.
In my opinion, Colabello is the most expendable. I wouldn't be at all surprised if every one of these players makes the club. Mauer, Dozier, Florimon and Plouffe as the starting infield, Escobar as the utility backup and Colabello as a bench bat.
He could make the team, spell Mauer occasionally at first base, perhaps play right field and DH. He's a highly flawed player, so even with that flexibility, his hold on a 25-man roster spot is tenuous.
The only lock on this list in Willingham. Many feel Arcia should be a lock, too, but I could see a scenario in which he opens the year in Rochester. Right or wrong, the Twins wouldn't be the first team in history to keep a lesser player who is out of options (Parmelee) and send packing the bigger prospect with a little left to prove (Arcia).
Heck, it wouldn't even be the first time the Twins did it this week.
Kubel is not on the 40-man roster, but the Twins have an open space on the roster and could fill it with Kubel.
I speculated in January that Presley would start in center, but it appears more likely now that Hicks will be the Opening Day centerfielder and leadoff hitter. Presley would move to a fourth outfield role. Willingham would start in left, even if his best defensive position is at DH.
Kubel be a part-time DH and would rotate with either Arcia or Parmelee in right field duty.
One easy thing to do would be to cut ties Parmelee, expose him - and likely lose him - to waivers. But the Twins and other Major League organizations are hesitant to lose players for nothing. What I suggest as the best roster right now might weigh the future as heavily as Major League teams tend to.
With trades in play and four spots left to trim from the active roster, the Twins will tell us something with their decisions this week. I'll revisit and grade my roster projection Monday for Opening Day.