Monday, March 24, 2014

Minnesota Twins Power Rankings: March 24, 2014

With just one week until the start of the 2014 regular season, the Twins 25-man roster is starting to take shape.  The fifth starter battle appears to have been settled.  The center field job appears to have been won.  The shortstop and catcher jobs were never really in doubt, but the backups appear to be falling in place.  Many of this week's top ten come from those battles, so let's get to the POWER! 

It's rare to see a player who was just cut from a team and outrighted to AAA on a list of the best performances from the past week, but I do think that Worley was fortunate in an odd way.  The Twins were willing to risk another team grabbing Worley, but he got lucky when no one else wanted him.  For Worley, this creates stability that might not have been guaranteed had another team claimed him.  That team could have kept him for a few weeks, done exactly what the Twins did just last week and then started the whole cycle again.  Instead, Worley is safely off the 40-man roster and able to try to fix whatever is wrong with him in Rochester.  I still hold out hope for Worley, mostly because I am unwilling to come to grips with reality.  It's what makes me such an excellent laser tag player.  

Deduno has pitched well in Spring Training.  Well, except for the 7 walks in just 13.1 innings.  Regardless, it appears the Twins have settled on Kyle Gibson for the fifth starter job and I think that's the right move.  I've long been critical of Deduno's high-wire act and I don't think it points toward long-term success in the rotation.

In the bullpen?  It could work.  He has the endurance of a starter and he can be effective in bursts.  I actually think this is the best role for Deduno and I think the Twins' bullpen is a lot stronger as a result.  Anthony Swarzak now moves to a more high-leverage spot, something I advocated for at the end of last season.  I also think the rotation is better with Gibson in and Deduno out.  If I'm wrong, Deduno is literally in the clubhouse already.  That's convenience!

Is there a worse hitter who is guaranteed a job in all of baseball?  Florimon has continued his anemic hitting since returning last week, collecting just 3 hits in 14 at-bats with 5 strikeouts and only one walk.  Florimon's hitting is no surprise and I certainly value his defense.  I just don't understand why a bad team like the Twins is so set on handing the job to such a one-dimensional player.  Yes, Florimon's defense is swell, but Eduardo Escobar can play some swell defense himself.  Plus, Escobar might actually hit above .230.  Why not try something different?  Pizza is delicious, but I still eat other foods once per week. 

Kubel was on the "scholarship plan" himself, but then he started hitting this last week and now he seems to be somewhat earning his seemingly locked-in DH job.  I'm Team Chris Colabello for the DH position, but Kubel appears to be the favorite of those who actually have some sway in the decision making.  As of Sunday, Kubel has just 7 hits in 33 at-bats.  He's struck out 12 times, but has walked 6 times, balancing things out ever so slightly.  Kubel has just one double and one home run, in those 33 at-bats.  I don't have a problem with Kubel starting the year as the DH, but if this small sample of Spring suckiness gives way to a larger sample of dreadful April/May hitting, then I hope the Twins do the right thing and give another player a chance to contribute. 

6.  Dancing Twins

I spent about four hours more than I should have on this post from last Friday, so I am going to shamelessly share it once more.  I analyzed the 1991 Twins dancing video and split up some of my favorite moments into animated gifs.  I also determined which current Twins player would take the place of the 1991 Twins player if we were to remake this video in 2014.  We should totally remake this video in 2014.  Click here to see what I can do in 4 hours.

Pshhewww!  That's how I write an exaggerated, relieved sigh.  This tweet made my Sunday a lot better:
You should follow Rhett Bollinger, if you don't already.  Then, you'd feel better too!  Wrist injuries are very rarely a sign of anything too damaging to a player, but they can also linger.  Since Buxton is dealing with just a strain, he should be able to recover with some rest and resume dominating baseball.  Even though I wasn't too worried about this injury to begin with, it's always nice to get some confirmation in the form of a tweet.

4.  AL Central

I spent about four hours last week working on AL Central previews as well.  Actually, it was almost certainly more than that, but I like the idea of an entire division of previews taking me as much time as a frame-by-frame viewing of a dancing video with Jack Morris shaking his hips.  Here is a link to my Tigers preview

Since I wrote it, Bruce Rondon went down for the season with TJ surgery and my reservations regarding the Tigers have increased.  You can get to previews of each team, including the Twins, by going to the bottom of the Tigers' post.  I picked the Tigers to win the Central, but I'm getting closer and closer to thinking the Royals will knock them off. 

Here's another Bollinger tweet from Sunday that made me feel good:
This actually comes as a surprise to me.  I thought for sure that Hicks was destined for AAA, especially considering the criticism he's been getting from Ron Gardenhire and Rob Antony this Spring.  In addition, it would have been very easy to brush aside his hot Spring since he did the exact same thing last Spring and then failed so spectacularly in the regular season. 

That said, I support this move.  Hicks has more promise than Alex Presley.  He's a better defensive player, he has better speed, he has better power and he has better OBP skills.  Presley might post a higher batting average, but Hicks should outperform Presley in every other area.  If you've read this blog, you know I love Aaron Hicks.  Good for him.

2.  Kyle Gibson

I mentioned Gibson earlier as he has apparently won the 5th starter job from Sam Deduno.  I support this move as well.  Gibson needs to prove that he can be effective against MLB hitters.  He's proved that he can handle AAA hitters already, and this is the obvious next step.  Finding out if Gibson is a part of the long-term rotation is one of the more important potential discoveries this coming season.  Gibson should be an effective MLB starter but it could take him time to adjust to better hitters.  I'd prefer he does this during another lost season, rather than try to find his groove when team expectations are higher. 

1.  Terry Ryan

Who else?  Ryan made a surprise appearance in Fort Myers on Friday, just hours after receiving a radiation treatment at the Mayo Clinic.  Ryan planned to be in Fort Myers for just that day, but the fact that he is up for flying and visiting is a great sign.  He has a long road ahead of him, but it's super cool to see the Twins' GM fighting so strongly.  You can read a whole lot more about Terry Ryan from Mike Berardino's excellent Twinsights blog.  Just scroll down a bit as there are a few stories about Ryan's visit.  It was very cool to see just how much respect the Twins' players have for Ryan, who we often take for granted as one of the more prolific and respected GMs in baseball. 

That's all I have for today.  Next week, I'll have the final Power Rankings of the Spring.  In addition, at this time next week, we'll have actual for serious baseball to talk about!  As Wilson Phillips once said, "If you hoooooo-oooolld on, for one more day."  Then, just hold on for six more one days and you'll be set.  Have a great week, everyone!


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  2. Florimon is kind of like Punto his last couple of years in Minnesota, except a lighter hitter. Seems like the guy would be useful as a utility guy, or a late-innings defensive replacement, but not as the starter. #eddie400

    1. I completely agree. Florimon will never hit like a Major League player, but Escobar might.