Mar 22, 2014. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Settling the Minnesota Twins 25 Man Roster: Predictions for Opening Day

The Minnesota Twins start their 2014 season in only eight days so the regular season is practically upon us. The Twins roster, however, is still unset and it looks like they will use this last week of Spring Training games before deciding who the final roster spots should be given to or what roles some players will actually fill. Reports came out on Friday that Kyle Gibson was named the fifth starter and Sam Deduno was going to pitch out of the bullpen, but apparently neither of those reports came from the Twins organization. Nonetheless, those two appear to be locks for the final roster but players like Scott Diamond, Aaron Hicks, Chris Colabello and Josmil Pinto will likely have to wait until the end of the week to get called into Gardenhire’s office. An extra week of stats and looks will help the team decide who’s going to play against the Chicago White Sox in a week but until then, here is my best guess for the Minnesota Twins Opening Day roster.

Pitchers

Ron Gardenhire said that he plans to only take 12 pitchers North with the team and I definitely agree with this decision. Barring injury, the starting rotation pickups that the Twins made this offseason will pitch deeper into games much more often and thus reduce the burden on the bullpen. Scott Diamond is out of options but he shouldn’t be kept on the team since the only relief experience he has is two games coming out of the bullpen way back in Single A+. Without any bullpen history to look at, there isn’t any way to know that Diamond would be valuable to keep on the 25 man roster and the only reason he is still being considered is because he is a lefty. He might be claimed off waivers but it certainly sounds like the Minnesota Twins have two other Diamond-like soft tossing lefties in Kris Johnson and Sean Gilmartin who could produce the same results if/when given a chance. I would love to take Michael Tonkin, who hasn’t let in a run all Spring Training, but I think the Twins will go with two lefties in Duensing and Thielbar since they have an all righty rotation. Burton, Fien and Swarzak get the nod over him because of experience.

Glen Perkins – Closer

Jared Burton – Set Up

Casey Fien – Set Up

Caleb Thielbar – Set Up

Anthony Swarzak – Set Up

Brian Duensing – Set Up.

Sam Deduno – Long Relief. Deduno isn’t known for his control so he’ll probably be kept away from high leverage situations with runners on base but his sometimes baffling pitches could be extremely effective in keeping the Twins in a ballgame if a starter goes out early. This also frees up Swarzak for a chance to prove whether he can take on more pressure situations.

Ricky Nolasco – Starter

Kevin Correia – Starter

Phil Hughes – Starter

Mike Pelfrey – Starter

Kyle Gibson – Starter

Infield

Carrying one less pitcher means that the Twins can have four bench position players instead of just three, giving the team some flexibility and depth. This decision should impact Chris Colabello the most, since he has done none nothing but hit this spring and his right-handed power potential would play nicely from the bench.

Joe Mauer – First Base

Brian Dozier – Second Base

Pedro Florimon – Short Stop

Trevor Plouffe – Third Base

Kurt Suzuki – Catcher

Chris Colabello – 1B, DH

Eduardo Escobar – Utility IF. I would really like to see Escobar start at short stop since Florimon just returned to action and might need some more time to get into game time rhythm. At any rate, Escobar is young and deserves a spot on the team way more than Jason Bartlett.

Chris Herrmann – C. Herrmann should get the nod over Pinto even though both catchers have hit well in their limited amount of at bats. Pinto needs to be playing every day to develop and since Suzuki seems to have the starting spot locked up Pinto can hone his defensive skills in Triple A for a few months.

Outfield

With everything that the front office and Gardenhire have been saying, there just doesn’t seem to be any way that Jason Kubel doesn’t make the team out of Spring Training. Even though he started in a huge slump, Kubel has picked it up recently and will get plenty of playing time (time will tell if he’s given too much time…check back in in two months) this season to prove he isn’t washed up. The competition for center field is still officially undecided but Aaron Hicks has a .371/.389/.543 batting line this spring and his defense is far superior to Alex Presley’s. The Twins need tons of defense to help out their pitching staff and Hicks will at least be able to cover a little bit for the slow-footed Arcia and Kubel/Willingham in the corners. Chris Parmelee is out of options but he hasn’t had a strong spring and looks like the odd man out.

Jason Kubel – Left Field

Aaron Hicks – Center Field

Oswaldo Arcia – Right Field

Josh Willingham – LF, DH

Alex Presley – Utility Outfield. Presley’s experience in CF should guarantee his status as the fourth backup outfielder.

 

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