This Week in Twins: March 19-25


It’s Monday again, and that means it is time for a Very Special Episode of This Week in Twins.

Topping the news on this brand new week is the latest round of roster cuts. The list of cuts is dominated by one big name: Tsuyoshi Nishioka. As TWIT noted last Monday, Nishioka’s fielding was not quite up to snuff this spring. His hitting did not help, either, as he batted a subpar .240 in 25 Spring at bats. This is obviously a big setback for a player who generated so much excitement when he came to the Major Leagues last year, but it is the right move. Nishioka is a talented, athletic player who just needs to build confidence and work on his mechanics for awhile. I think a year at AAA is the right prescription for him, and I look forward to seeing what he learns by next spring.

Carlos Gutierrez, Rene Tosoni, Jason Bulger, Luis Perdomo, Daryl Thompson, Dan Rohlfing, Esmerling Vasquez, P.J. Walters, Chris Herrmann, Aaron Bates, and Wilkin Ramirez also got cut. Minnesota now has a leaner (meaner?) locker room, occupied by only 45 players. The non-roster invitee list, which Puckett’s Pond has been following very closely, is now down to 15 names.

The remaining Twins start their week with a game against the Red Sox today. Before the week is onver, they’ll also play the Orioles, Yankees, Rays, and Cardinals, and they’ll enjoy their only off-day of the Spring on Tuesday. But the highlight of the week will be Wednesday, when the Twins face off against the division-rival Tigers for the first and only time in 2012 Grapefruit League play.

Weekly Winners:

Twins Pitching. At first glance, it seems silly to congratulate the Twins’ pitchers when they allowed two blowout losses: an 8-2 stomping against Toronto and a 17-6 debacle against Pittsburgh. Dig a little deeper, though, and both of those were flukes. The Toronto game was marred by one bad inning from Francisco Liriano, who more than redeemed himself on Sunday. And the Pirates game just got off to a bad start, thanks to a 10 run first inning. Ignore those two games, and the Twins allowed just 11 runs in the other six games this week, culminating in yesterday’s one-hit gem. Also of note: Liam Hendriks silenced the Red Sox for three innings on Friday. The Australian prospect has not allowed a run in seven innings this spring.

Mike Hollimon. Hollimon has become a Puckett’s Pond favorite, and if he keeps up his hitting tear, he ought to become a Twins favorite as well. The infielder went 4-4 plus a walk on Saturday, and he ends the week with a stellar .533 batting average.

Weekly Weaklings:

Terry Doyle. The Twins’ Rule 5 pick just did not have it together in his start against the Pirates. It resulted in the aforementioned 10 run inning. The Twins obviously saw some potential in Doyle when they selected him, but his Grapefruit League performance makes it clear that he is not ready to stay on the Major League roster for a full season. Presumably, the reason the Twins have not cut him is that they are thinking about working out a trade with Chicago to keep him.

Jason Marquis. Marquis has been battered by opposing hitters so far, yielding 14 hits and seven walks in 8.2 innings. If we were to decide roster spots based on stats alone, we would have to axe Marquis and pencil in Hendriks at this point. But wait! If you look at Marquis’ history, it is perfectly normal for him to get knocked around in the spring. He has posted a spring ERA above 9.00 in two of his last three seasons, including 2009, when he had a  10.08 Spring ERA then went on to win 15 games with a 4.04 ERA at Coors Field in the regular season. Conversely, his ERA in the spring of 2006 was a dazzling 1.96; that year his regular season ERA ballooned to 6.02 for the Cardinals! In other words, when Marquis gives up a lot of hits and runs in Spring Training, it might actually be a good thing.