This week the Twins had to make another roster adjustment to create space for Jason Marquis on the 25-man roster. Marquis had been in New Britain building arm strength due to missing so much of spring training.
Luke Hughes was designated for assignment to make room, a decision that came as a surprise to the Twins blogger/sports writers community. After doing a little musing about it, I’ve decided it is the first in what is most likely going to be a series of moves in the next few weeks.
Here are some reasons why I think moves are coming soon.
First, the addition of a pitcher and dropping a position player is almost certainly a temporary measure. Carrying 13 pitchers is not sustainable for any significant period of time. While it is easy to see why this number might be useful for the short-term, 12 is going to be the number eventually. Uncertainty with regard to Glen Perkins and Nick Blackburn is what brought about the need for more pitchers. Neither one appears to be going on the DL, so numbers are needed to get through until they are pitching again. So far reports indicate Blackburn will be starting next Tuesday and Perkins could be available as soon as today.
Second, the removal of Hughes from the 40-man roster creates a spot for someone who is not currently on that extended ML roster. Much speculation has already begun about what that means with the most common conclusion being the vacant slot will be given to Brian Dozier as he is called up sometime in the next few weeks. Other speculation has concluded the slot is being held for a possible waiver claim in the near future. And, one blogger has even posited Drew Butera will be brought up because Ron Gardenhire likes having three catchers at his disposal. My guess is the Twins are creating flexibility with no specific action determined yet.
Third, as the Twins continue to play out the tough April schedule, it will become increasingly clear if they are going to be at all competitive this year. If not, the rebuilding will begin in earnest. If they are playing well, winning more than losing by the middle of May, the process will be delayed.
Finally, now into the realm of pure speculation on my part, I am anticipating rebuilding sooner rather than later. If that is the case, the next move to reduce the pitchers to twelve will be quite interesting. I think Jeff Gray is the most vulnerable to go. He has no more options so will be designated for assignment. Earlier in the season I was almost certain the first to go would be Alex Burnett because he had a less than stellar spring training and he has never had a full season in AAA. Instead, he has pitched very well so far and Gray has been less effective.
Continuing with the speculation on the position player side, the next few weeks will also be important for both Jamey Carroll and Alexi Casilla. If both continue to play and hit as well as they have over the past week or so, the promotion of Dozier will be delayed giving him even more time to prove he can be consistently effective at AAA. If one or the other falters, Dozier will be called up and he will get his shot at holding down the shortstop position.
When the rebuilding effort has definitely begun, I’ll get into more speculation about which veterans will be shopped for trades before the mid-summer deadline.