Saturday, March 20, 2010

Midway through Spring Training

Today's game put the Twins over the hump of their spring training schedule: 16 games down, 14 to go. Most of the projected members of the 25-man roster are performing quite well through their limited appearances to this point:

Denard Span: .455/.520/.455, 3/3 SB
Joe Mauer: .462/.563/.462
Justin Morneau: .263/.263/.579, HR
Michael Cuddyer: .464/.516/.607, HR
Jason Kubel: .333/.394/.600, 2 HR
Jim Thome: .273/.385/.545, HR
Brendan Harris: .400/.429/.640, HR
Scott Baker: 9 IP, 11 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
Nick Blackburn: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
Carl Pavano: 13 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
Kevin Slowey: 11 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 K
Francisco Liriano: 10 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 1 BB 16 K
Jon Rauch: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
Matt Guerrier: 6 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Jesse Crain: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Pat Neshek: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K

They've also seen strong work from some of their most promising farmhands:

Ben Revere: .316/.316/.447, 2/3 SB
Wilson Ramos: .381/.381/.714, HR
Danny Valencia: .273/.292/.636, 2 HR
Juan Portes: .409/.458/.864, 3 HR
Luke Hughes: .333/.333/.619, HR
Trevor Plouffe: .333/.385/.667, 4 2B
Anthony Slama: 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K

Among those for whom things haven't fallen into place yet, there are a lot of silver linings:

Orlando Hudson is off to a slow start with the bat (.236/.281/.269), but has made an impression with his defense.
Delmon Young has just 4 H, but 3 are for extra bases, and he's drawn 3 BB against 7 K.
Nick Punto is just 3 for 20, but has drawn 4 BB in 24 PA, a pace in keeping with his excellent BB% from 2009.
Jose Mijares has put up a 0 in 4/5 outings.
Rob Delaney allowed 3 ER on 9 H in 5.1 IP, but had 0 BB and 9 K.

Everyone's being very cautious with injuries, particularly to the veterans, which has led to very little playing time for Mauer, Morneau, Thome, JJ Hardy and Blackburn so far. They should start to ramp up their AB/IP in the coming days.

Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert are both struggling, opening the door somewhat for Jacque Jones (.318/.400/.409) to steal the last bench spot. Ramos continues to lead Drew Butera (.167/.250/.167) for the backup catcher spot.

Mike Maroth (7 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K) is also leading the likely Rochester rotation, with Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins, Jeff Manship and Anthony Swarzak all putting up ERAs over 9.00 and WHIPs over 1.71. Though his ERA is tidy, Maroth's 1.71 WHIP and 1/3 K/BB ratio won't be nearly enough to supplant Liriano in the rotation. Gardy and the coaches are preparing Liriano to begin the season as a starter - I think that makes the job his to lose. And with a 2.70 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 16/1 K/BB ratio, he's not giving anything away so far.

We'll likely know in the next day or so what Joe Nathan's fate will be. Assuming he opts for TJS, the Twins can place him on the 60-day DL and add Slama to the 40-man roster. Rauch still looks the guy to start the year as the closer. If, after 2 months, things aren't working out with him, they can assess whether Neshek or Crain would be ready to assume that role (they each saved games in the minors), or whether they should look for a closer in a trade. By then, Valencia may be ready to assume the 3B job, meaning Harris and/or one of the relievers could be offered, perhaps with a 3-star prospect.

In the meantime, when is Mauer going to sign that contract extension?