The calendar has turned to April, and the Twins are already pivoting toward the regular season. With four cuts today, the Twins’ roster is essentially set for Opening Day. Brian Dozier, J.R. Towles, Brian Dinkelman, and Casey Fien have been sent to the minors. That means the rest of the Twins roster will be official once the Twins make moves to add two non-roster invitees – Sean Burroughs and Jared Burton – to the 25 man roster.
The final roster began to take shape a couple weeks ago, when the Twins started cutting players who had a shot to make the team. Thus, very little of the roster can be called a surprise to anyone who was paying attention in recent days. But if you showed this roster to an knowledgeable observer back in February, he/she would find some moves downright shocking.
Here are the surprises, starting with the least predicable moves:
1. Sean Burroughs made the team. In a move that turns back the clock to 2005, infielder Sean Burroughs has secured a slot on the Opening Day roster. Burroughs was once a sure-fire future superstar, but bad luck and bad decisions sabotaged his baseball career and robbed him of his prime years. But whatever Burroughs is, he is not a quitter. This has the potential to be the most inspirational story of the 2012 season for the Twins, especially if Burroughs becomes the next Mike Pagliarulo this season. But it was a surprising move because Burroughs does not have the versatility that is typically expected from a backup infielder. His lefty bat could be a nice complement to Danny Valencia, though.
2. Chris Parmelee made the team. The conventional wisdom, up until two weeks ago, was that Parmelee needed a year at AAA before he could compete at the MLB level (his September call-up performance notwithstanding). Then we started hearing that Justin Morneau might be the everyday designated hitter, and suddenly a massive opportunity opened up for Parmelee. The young first baseman made the most of it with a dynamic hitting performance in the Grapefruit League. Through Sunday’s game, he is hitting .290/.389/.597 with a team-lead-tying five homers.
3. Ben Revere is not the starting left fielder. This is not technically a roster move, but it is a surprising development regarding the Opening Day lineup. Thanks to a plethora of injuries, Revere was a regular in left and center field last season, but he lost his starting job when the Twins announced that Josh Willingham would play left field, and not right field as previously stated. Don’t count Revere out, though. If Ryan Doumit struggles in right field, Revere and/or Trevor Plouffe could get a shot.
4. Drew Butera did not make the team. Puckett’s Pond wrote about this yesterday, but it is still relatively new news. With Towles getting cut, the Twins officially only have two catchers on the roster. It is highly likely that another catcher will be called up at some point. Will it be Butera?
5. The Twins will start with a four man rotation, including Liam Hendriks. This is not a permanent move; instead, it’s the result of an injury to Scott Baker and a family emergency for Jason Marquis. The Twins will use their early-season off days judiciously to avoid using a fifth pitcher until Baker and/or Marquis can rejoin the team. Hendriks, who had a four start audition with the Twins last September, gets another chance to show what he can do before he inevitably gets sent to AAA for more seasoning.