Wednesday, November 18, 2009

40-Man Roster Update; Great Billy Martin Article; Gardy Snubbed

With the MLB Rule 5 Draft approaching next month (it will take place on December 10 at the MLB's Winter Meetings in Indianapolis), it's time to take a quick look at the Minnesota Twins' current roster situation.

The current roster reads 40 names, although this is somewhat deceiving, as I will explain below. For now, here is how it sits:

Catchers (5): Drew Butera, Joe Mauer, Jose Morales, Wilson Ramos, Mike Redmond
Infielders (12): Orlando Cabrera, Alexi Casilla, Joe Crede, J.J. Hardy, Brendan Harris, Luke Hughes, Justin Morneau, Trevor Plouffe, Nick Punto, Deibinson Romero, Matt Tolbert, Steven Tolleson 
Outfielders (5): Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Jason Pridie, Denard Span, Delmon Young
Pitchers (18): Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Boof Bonser, Jesse Crain, Brian Duensing, Matt Guerrier, Bobby Keppel, Francisco Liriano, Ron Mahay, Jeff Manship, Jose Mijares, Joe Nathan, Pat Neshek, Carl Pavano, Glen Perkins, Jon Rauch, Kevin Slowey, Anthony Swarzak

The five players' names highlighted in bold above represent the Twins' free agents. All five players have filed for free agency and will be removed from the roster unless the Twins try to sign them (unlikely for Cabrera; doubtful for Redmond; perhaps for Mahay and Crede; maybe for Pavano). So, the Twins will likely have five spots with which to play before the draft. 

The Twins lost two pitchers in roster maneuvering over the past few weeks. Righthander Armando Gabino was claimed by Baltimore when the Twins removed him from the 40-man roster and tried to send him through waivers. He was replaced on the roster by hard-throwing righty Juan Morillo (pictured right). Fans may remember his three outings with the Twins in which he pitched a total of two innings, allowed five runs on three hits and three walks. Still, he threw in the upper-90s and was young enough (26) for the Twins to take a chance on his development. Shortly after being placed on the 40-man roster, Morillo signed with a Japanese league team, for which the Twins will instead receive cash compensation, opening up a spot on the roster. 

So, in essence, the Twins have five roster spots with which to maneuver, corresponding to the number of internal free agents. There will likely be movement on and off the roster in the coming days and weeks among some of the players currently taking spots in favor of minor leaguers who either will get a solid look at making the roster this spring (Danny Valencia, for example) or others who need to be on the roster for fear of losing him to another organization for a nominal fee.

Seth Stohs has a fine article detailing who may be under consideration for the final roster spots. As Seth rightly points out, there are some players who do not need to be added to the 40-man roster or face the risk of being exposed to the Rule 5 Draft (Anthony Slama is one of them). Also, Seth notes that the Twins may choose to keep one or two spots open to give the organization flexibility to take a player or two from another team in the Rule 5 Draft. Keep in mind, a player selected must remain with the claiming team's Major League roster (and thus on the 40-man roster) all season long or he will return to his original team (if he clears waivers).

My guess is that the Twins will not sign all five internal major league free agents and keep one spot open for the Rule 5 Draft. We'll see how accurate that prediction is.

Billy Ball's Infancy: I received an e-mail from Chris Jaffe, who writes for the outstanding Hardball Times site, alerting me to an article he recently published on the site. Actually, the article was an excerpt of a book he wrote (scheduled for December release) called "Evaluating Baseball's Managers" and the subject of this excerpt was Billy Martin. Most fans remember Billy from his five stints as manager of the New York Yankees (would have likely been six if he had not died in 1989), but Martin actually began his managerial career with the Twins in 1969. That season was one of the most successful in franchise history (97-65 and won the first American League West Division title), and Billy employed an exciting brand of baseball.

The article is an outstanding analysis of Martin's managerial career and style and focuses on Martin's lone season in Minnesota. It was with the Twins that he developed his hard-charging baserunning and over-using pitchers style. Like the THT site in general, Jaffe's article is stat-heavy and analytical, but extremely readable. Do yourselves a favor and check out the article. Better yet, buy the book.

Gardy Snubbed: The American League Manager of the Year Award was given out today, and Los Angeles's Mike Scioscia won the award, capturing 15 of the 28 first place votes. Ron Gardenhire finished second with six first place votes, followed by New York's Joe Girardi, Seattle's Don Wakamatsu, Detroit's Jim Leyland, and Texas's Ron Washington. Scioscia did a fine job pulling the Angels together after the tragic death of pitcher Nick Adenhart in the season's opening week. However, the Angels won their division as expected and with a payroll of a paltry $114M. Gardy pulled the Twins up from nowhere and overtook Detroit in the season's final two weeks. Gardenhire gets (and deserves) his fair share of criticism here and in the local media, but has a good following nationally. However, the national media got this one wrong.

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