Monday, March 30, 2015

40 Man Shuffle Comes With Conflicting Thoughts

Today kicks off the final week of spring training for the Minnesota Twins. They will play the Boston Red Sox in a night game tonight as they kick off their last six games (five of which come against these Red Sox). With the team continuing to whittle down the roster towards the 25 man inclusions for Opening Day, the 40 man roster has been tweaked as well. Over the weekend, the Twins outrighted Stephen Pryor, and also removed Lester Oliveros from the 40 man roster. There's no two open spots, and they both will carry a different train of thought.

Of the players left in camp for the Twins, the two that appear poised to claim the 39th and 40th spots on the roster are Shane Robinson and Blaine Boyer. Both players were brought in over the offseason as non-roster invites with spring training shots to prove they belonged. For one, it would appear that proving it is exactly what he did. The other, it looks to be an inclusion by happenstance.

As noted over the weekend, Aaron Hicks was sent down to Triple-A Rochester. With the move, both Shane Robinson and Jordan Schafer will start the season as the Twins centerfielders. Rather than getting into the confusing decision again, it's best summed up by saying Robinson's inclusion appears to be a by-product of Hicks failing to meet expectations. A mediocre level major league talent at best, Robinson provides nothing at the plate, and a minimal defensive upgrade at best. Although jettisoning Pryor and Oliveros shouldn't move the needle much, Robinson didn't exactly lay claim to the role this spring.

On the other hand, Blaine Boyer appears to have earned himself a spot with the Twins, and Minnesota should be proud of that conclusion. After a strong year with the Padres a season ago, Boyer has been nothing short of lights out this spring. While not being a lefty could have worked against him, it appears the Twins will bring him north over the likes of Caleb Thielbar. Paul Molitor noted earlier in spring that he would like to have two southpaws in the pen, but it now would seem only Brian Duensing will make the roster. Minnesota decided to go to arbitration with Duensing, a move that probably could have been avoided, and thus leaves the younger Thielbar the odd man out.

For everything odd about including Robinson on the 40 man and active roster, the Twins have made the right move with Boyer. I'd argue they could have allowed Duensing to walk, and the decision would have been even better, but things should be just fine in their current construction. The Twins bullpen isn't going to be great in 2015, and the better choice would likely be to go with lower salaries and higher upsides; something Duensing checks off neither category. Although one move makes more sense than the other, the roster shuffle is finally starting to wrap up.

Considering we aren't talking about the Twins bringing Jason Kubel or Jason Bartlett along for the ride this season, we can already consider 2015 off to a better start. Boyer probably sticks with the Twins longer than Robinson does in 2015, but here's to hoping the Twins continue to make roster moves that help them compete in the upcoming season.