“Hello, Good-Bye” Poll

You say yes, I say no
You say stop and I say go go go, oh no
You say goodbye and I say hello
Hello hello
I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello

This is the time of year when, like it or not, there’s a lot of discussion going on about who will or will not be wearing a Twins uniform a week or two… or a month or two… from now.

The reality is, when your favorite Major League Baseball team is not a contender in July, there will almost certainly be changes made. Maybe you’ll see a managerial change. You will see player changes.

Fans will be saying “hello” to some new faces… and they’ll be saying “good-bye” to some favorite familiar faces. That’s baseball, especially when your team is in the middle of its third consecutive losing season.

Let’s try to make a few predictions concerning who we’ll be saying “good-bye” to.

Ron Gardenhire

Ron Gardenhire

The easiest off-season prediction to make relative to the Twins was that manager Ron Gardenhire’s job status would be a hot topic by the end of July. Gardenhire’s Twins have lost almost 100 games in each of the past two seasons and it would seem almost inevitable that the total will be at least 90 losses in 2013.

That was predictable. Since the losing season was predictable, so was Gardenhire’s hot seat.

Of course, the reason the losing season was predictable is that the roster that General Manager Terry Ryan and the rest of the front office assembled for Gardenhire before the season started was underwhelming.

I’ve never been overly impressed with Gardenhire’s game management philosophies, but I also believe that the job of a manager is a lot more about managing the clubhouse than managing individual games.

A manager is only as good as the players he’s given to work with and I think pretty much everyone, including his boss, now knows Gardenhire was dealt a pretty lousy hand this season.

If the manager has lost the clubhouse… if the players have tuned him out and no longer respect his voice… then he should be replaced. I’ve not heard nor read any indication that such is the case, however.

Given that, I not only expect Gardenhire to remain the Twins manager through the end of this season, but also to be brought back for 2014 and beyond.

There are plenty of other possible changes to the Twins worthy of discussion that are far more likely to take place, however.

This time of year, trades are at the top of the list of discussion topics.

Terry Ryan

Terry Ryan

A year ago, I published my list of top five most likely Twins to be dealt before the end of August. At that time, the list was, in order from first to fifth, Franicisco Liriano, Denard Span, Danny Valencia, Alexi Casilla and Josh Willingham.

In a poll we attached to that article, our readers agreed with my top three choices, but felt Matt Capps was more likely to be traded during the season than Casilla and Willingham. In fact, almost nobody agreed with me on Willingham being a trade target.

In the end, the Twins had almost nobody that anyone really wanted to trade for a year ago. Liriano and Valencia were traded during the season, Span was dealt in the off-season and Casilla parted after the season, as well.

The Twins are sellers this year, once again, but is Ryan likely to see any greater interest among his fellow GMs than he did a year ago?

I’m not sure Ryan will trade more than just a couple of players, again, but the level of interest… and thus the ultimate return for those players… should be greater this season.

Here’s my list of the five Twins players most likely to be wearing another team’s uniform by the end of August this year:

  1. Justin Morneau: He’s in the last year of his contract with Minnesota and there reportedly are teams calling about him. He’s not going to bring the return he would have if he were his old home run hitting self, but if the Twins will pay a chunk of his remaining salary (and there’s absolutely no reason they shouldn’t), there are contenders that may be willing to give up a prospect with some talent. If they end up just giving Morneau away as a salary dump, Twins fans should justifiably be enraged.
  2. Jared Burton: He’s had a few struggles and hasn’t been as reliable as he was a year ago, but there are a lot of teams that could use relief pitching and Burton is likely drawing interest.
  3. Ryan Doumit: The Twins like his versatility. Other teams will like that, too.
  4. Glen Perkins: If it were me, I wouldn’t trade Perkins unless someone agreed to way overpay for a “proven closer.” Unfortunately for the Twins, most teams (other than the Twins themselves, historically) are not inclined to overpay for a proven closer. If you want an indication of whether Terry Ryan believes the Twins can contend next year or whether it will be at least 2015, watch what he does with Perkins. If he’s traded, it may indicate Ryan expects the All-Star Game to be the biggest Target Field highlight of 2014.
  5. Trevor Plouffe: Is Terry Ryan ready to annoint Miguel Sano as the Twins’ starting third baseman beginning in 2014? If so, Trevor Plouffe could be dealt.

Others: Could Kevin Correia or Mike Pelfrey be traded? Maybe, but I think not.

Pelfrey is pitching better and if that continues, he may have some value, but he’s making little enough that if he isn’t dealt in July, he could be “blocked” by teams claiming him to prevent a waiver trade in August. I also could see the Twins extend Pelfrey for another season before this summer is over.

I think Ryan feels vindicated by Correia’s season and intends to keep him for the second year of his contract.

What do you think?

Who do you think will no longer be wearing a Twins uniform by the end of August? Let us know in the poll below. We’ll add Ron Gardenhire to the list to choose from in the poll so if you really believe he’s likely to be axed this summer, you can reflect that in your choices.

Who do you feel is MOST likely to NOT be wearing a Twins uniform by the end of August? (Choose up to 5)

  • Justin Morneau (69%, 25 Votes)
  • Jamey Carroll (53%, 19 Votes)
  • Jared Burton (47%, 17 Votes)
  • Brian Duensing (31%, 11 Votes)
  • Ryan Doumit (28%, 10 Votes)
  • Glen Perkins (22%, 8 Votes)
  • Mike Pelfrey (19%, 7 Votes)
  • Trevor Plouffe (17%, 6 Votes)
  • Casey Fien (14%, 5 Votes)
  • Kevin Correia (14%, 5 Votes)
  • Scott Diamond (8%, 3 Votes)
  • Ron Gardenhire (3%, 1 Votes)
  • Joe Mauer (3%, 1 Votes)
  • Josh Willingham (3%, 1 Votes)
  • Aaron Hicks (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Chris Parmelee (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Brian Dozier (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 36

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Talk to Contact Episode 44: Minor Leauge Caps

Episode 44 of the Twins baseball podcast,  Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.

This week Cody and Eric get down on a bunch of Twins news from the past week+, including a mediocre Kyle Gibson, roster transactions, a surging Aaron Hicks and a slumping EVERYONE else.


Down on the Pond is about the Twins’ recent #1 draft pick Kohl Stewart.  After that Cody and Eric talk beer, baseball, and the news.

76 minutes of unmitigated baseball talk.


You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan.  You can follow Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) or read his writing at  Puckett’s Pond.  And of course, you can find me on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) and read my writing at Knuckleballs!

– ERolfPleiss

Talk to Contact Episode 42: Miguel Sano’s 1st Double-A Home Run

Episode 42 of the Twins baseball podcast,  Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.


Eric and Cody talk with noted Twins blogger Andrew Walter from http://twinsfanfromafar.blogspot.com/ to get an update on Twins uber prospect Miguel Sano and teammate Eddie Rosario.  Along the way they go Down on the Pond and talk about MiLB pitcher Pat Dean.

They have a lot of fun talking Twins news, beer, and general baseball weirdness.  They’re kind of a big deal.

88 more minutes of pleasure.


You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan.  You can follow Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) or read his writing at  Puckett’s Pond.  And of course, you can find me on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) and read my writing here at Knuckleballs!

– ERolfPleiss

Minnesota Twins Podcast – Talk to Contact – Episode 16

Episode 16 of the Twins baseball podcast,  Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.

Ben Revere rides to Philadelphia!

This week the Pleiss Twins discuss happenings from the winter meetings and are joined by Alex Kienholz of www.BeyondTheBoxscore.com to discuss the Twins/Phillies trade that sent Ben Revere to Philly in exchange for Vance Worley and prospect Trevor May, the Rule 5 draft and about his interested in sabermetrics. After Alex departs Eric and Paul get into the Jared Burton extension, Tom Kelly‘s Twins career, beer, prospects and a whole bunch of questions from the interwebs.

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes (ratings and reviews have magical iTunes powers, which help us become warlocks.)

You can follow Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) or read his writing at  Puckett’s Pond.

– ERolfPleiss

Hey Twins Fans, Meet Vanimal!

(Image: timokreations)

Now that we’ve had a day to absorb the news of the Twins trading Ben Revere to Philadelphia, it’s time for us to get to know our newest member of the Twins MLB family, Vance Worley… aka “Vanimal.”

In an effort to do a little advance scouting on behalf of the Twins fanbase, I did a little Vanimal hunting on the internet. I have to say, so far I’ve liked what I’ve found.

All of the initial reports provided the basics. He had a great rookie year in 2011 as a 23-year-old, during which he finished 3rd in National League Rookie of the Year balloting, but his sophomore year in 2012 was a bit bumpy and ended with some “clean up” surgery on his pitching elbow in September. He’s back to throwing now and is expected to be ready to roll in time for Spring Training.

You can read all about Worley’s pitching record any number of places (though you might want to start with Parker Hageman’s excellent break down of Worley by clicking here). We’ll strive to bring you more here at Knuckleballs.

The Asian-American pitcher (his mother is Chinese) apparently had the “Vanimal” moniker bestowed upon him by a weightlifting coach in the weight room during his freshman year at Long Beach State University (or Cal State Long Beach, if you prefer). I guess Worley must have hit the weights pretty hard, because the nickname has stuck.

(Photo: Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

Here’s something else you should know… Vanimal has a reputation for having some swagger. We’ll definitely know when Worley is on the mound. The distinctive Oakley goggles are one clue and he’s got a bit of a strut coming off the mound after a strikeout. And then, of course, there’s the mohawk haircut (though word has it he may be tiring of that trademark hairstyle and might just let his hair grow long… so we have that to look forward to).

He also talks to himself on the mound… and parents of small children might want to be prepared to answer some awkward, “what did he say, daddy?” questions from the young fans in the family. It’s not personal, just all about self-motivation, but lipreading could be entertaining this season.

Vance Worely

Like most professional athletes, Worley values his privacy away from the workplace. Don’t hassle him if you see him at a movie theater and if you happen to discover where he gets his haircut, don’t Tweet it to everyone in cyberspace. That kinda thing ticks him off. But on the job, he has a reputation for being friendly and accessible to fans and media (and even to the occasional blogger). While he wasn’t a fan of any particular MLB team while growing up in Northern California, he has grown in to a hobby of sorts that he shares with many fans… he collects autographed baseballs from many of his peers in the game.

I’m looking forward to getting to know Worley better next season. He’s got personality and, frankly, that’s something I’ve thought the Twins clubhouse could use a bit more of lately. I’m not sure how the largely staid local fanbase will react to the Vanimal persona, but I suspect a lot of that will be determined by how well he gets… what do they call them?… oh yeah… outs.

If you’d like to read more about our newest Twins pitcher, I suggest clicking here. He granted weekly access to Ed Condran, a columnist/blogger for www.metro.us, an online news publication. Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer also wrote a couple of interesting background pieces on Worley during his rookie campaign in 2011, which can be found here and here.

– JC

Revere Traded to Phillies!

Wow did I pick the wrong day to forget my cell phone at home this morning! It’s the only way I have of accessing social media sites like Twitter or any of my personal email accounts from my office. As a result of that (and actually doing some work today), I’ve been a bit slow to catch breaking news. Any other day, that wouldn’t have been a big deal, but today it’s a very big deal!

Many of us have talked in recent weeks about how the Twins need to trade from a position of strength, such as their outfield depth, to fill a position of need (that would be starting pitching, for those who haven’t been keeping up). Today, the Twins doubled down on the gamble they made a week ago in trading CF Denard Span by also trading CF Ben Revere to the Phillies.

Span brought “just” a minor league pitcher with top-of-the-rotation upside. Revere, however, not only brought a very highly rated minor league starting pitcher (Trevor May), but also a Major League starting pitcher (Vance Worley) who, if healthy, could arguably slot in above Scott Diamond in the 2013 rotation.

I’m going to miss this smile!

While I don’t think the Twins went to Nashville intending to trade Revere, the market for CFs seemed to almost explode once they got there and Terry Ryan took advantage of that.

My reaction to the Span trade last week was something along the lines of, “that’s too bad, I really like Span, but the Twins absolutely need pitching that has ‘ace’ potential, so this is a fair deal.”

My reaction to the Revere trade today was more like, “I’m really going to miss Revere’s smile and his overall approach to playing baseball, but HOLY CRAP the Twins got a great return for him!”

This deal didn’t come out of nowhere, but it certainly seemed to fall in place quickly.

Last night, there were rumors that Revere’s name was being mentioned and that the Twins were open to listening to proposals.

This morning, the Strib’s LaVelle E. Neal III posted in his blog that the Twins spent the night isolated in their suite working on a Revere trade and had recalled their PR guy from the airport where he was getting ready to fly back to Minnesota. Obviously, this was not just idle chat, but we all can point to multiple deals the Twins have “almost” pulled off over the years at the Winter Meetings.

By mid-morning, there was speculation that the Twins might be targeting high upside pitching prospects, but I personally wondered how that would sell with most Twins fans. I felt they would need to get some kind of immediate help in any further trades of current MLB starting position players, including Revere.

By noon, we had our answer. The Twins not only landed a young, talented Big League pitcher who’s under team control for several more years, but also another AA level starting pitching prospect who immediately would have to be considered one of the team’s top 10 prospects (MLB.com had him ranked as the #2 prospect in the Phillies organization).

I hope Ryan isn’t done getting pitching help for 2013 and beyond, but despite the fears of many people (myself included) he certainly is not returning from Nashville empty handed. Congratulations to the Twins front office certainly appears to be in order today.

– JC

Winter Meetings Day Two: Twins Face Stiff Competition for Starting Pitchers

It is a tough time to be looking for starting pitchers.  According to Jon Heyman, at least 15 teams are actively seeking starting pitching:

The reality is that the other 15 teams are not going to pass up an opportunity to sign starting pitching either, as evidenced by the Nationals’ Day 2 signing of Dan Haren on a one-year $13 million dollar deal.

Unless the Twins are willing to spend dollars and years (a notion promoted by our own Jim Crikket), they’re going to have trouble finding free agents that want to sign with a ball club that doesn’t have an immediate opportunity to contend for a postseason birth.  The Twins likely have an edge on some low-end free agent pitchers looking to rebuild their value on a one year deal, as the Twins play in a pitcher friendly park and generally face lesser offensive opponents (playing each AL Central opponent 18 times) than many of the other teams mentioned in Heyman’s tweet.  But low-end free agent pitchers are easily had (Carl Pavano, John Lannan, etc.). With each passing hour it becomes less and less likely that the Twins make a move before the end of the Winter Meetings, but after talking with just about every free agent pitcher with a pulse, they should have at least laid the groundwork for a signing or two later this winter.

After a day of rumors and meetings, this is what Terry Ryan had to say at his end of day presser regarding making a move at the Winter Meetings, “That’s always a tough question. You never know. We could. We may not.”   Don’t hold your breath, Twins fans.

PhotoCredit: NBC Sports, Hardball Talk

Other Notable Rumors/Deals/Signings from Day Two:

And of course, these, any many other, Winter Meetings happenings are all nicely chronicled over at MLB Trade Rumors, should you desire to fully immerse yourself in Winter Meetings maddness.


OVERNIGHT UPDATE: Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweeted overnight that Ben Revere’s name is coming up as a possible trade target. He also speculates that, because they traded Denard Span, the Twins may need a CF in return.

First, if indeed CFs are in high demand right now, the Twins have to be willing to listen when teams call. It wouldn’t be ideal for someone like Aaron Hicks to have to skip AAA and be baptized under fire at the Big League level, but if he can’t hack it Darin Mastroianni could probably fill in at CF until Hicks or someone else steps up.

I’ve always figured Revere was probably a short term bridge in CF to get to Hicks or one of the other stud OFs coming up through the organization. If the Twins think the same thing, then you trade Revere whenever you feel his value is at its highest, even if that is one week after you’ve traded Span.

I think the idea of the Twins needing a CF in return is pure speculation on Morosi’s part. That makes no sense at all. You get the best starting pitcher you can and you don’t take a lesser pitcher in order to get a stopgap CF, as well.

In other Twins news, LaVelle E. Neal III of the StarTribune tells us that the team doesn’t see Ian Stewart as a fit to provide the competition at 3B for Trevor Plouffe. I find that odd. To me, that’s exactly the kind of player that would fit that role. Maybe they just want to push Plouffe, not really threaten him.

Stay tuned… maybe Day 3 will be more exciting than the first two days. Then again, because Zack Greinke’s indecision is keeping the rest of the free agent pitching dominoes from falling, I’m not counting on much for excitement today.

– JC

Minnesota Twins Podcast – Talk to Contact – Episode 15

Episode 15 of the Twins baseball podcast,  Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.

itunes pic

This week Paul and I are joined by Twins prospect guru, Seth Stohs, of TwinsDaily.com to discuss the Twins trade with the Nationals, his blogging career and Travis Harrison. After Seth departs we take a quick look at the Rule 5 draft, Twins HOFer Brad Radke and a lengthy discussion on the 2013 BBWAA Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, specifically Barry Bonds and the steroids era. We also talk about beer, of which it becomes evident that I had several, along with a few other Twins news items and notes.

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes (ratings and reviews have magical iTunes powers, which help us become warlocks.)

You can follow Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) or read his writing at  Puckett’s Pond.

– ERolfPleiss

Span Traded to Nationals!

GM Terry Ryan didn’t wait until the start of the Winter Meetings next week before swinging his first deal, trading Denard Span to the Nationals for minor league starting pitcher Alex Meyer.

Alex Meyer (Photo: Jeff Roberson/AP)

Meyer, the Nats 2011 first round draft pick, represented Washington in this summer’s Future’s Game in Kansas City. He’s 6′ 9″ and can bring a 98 mph fastball to the table. He immediately will become the Twins top starting pitching prospect, though he’s only pitched as high as the high-A level to this point.

Honestly, I love Span and hate to seem him go. Knowing it was likely, however, I hoped he would be traded for immediate pitching help. All of that said, it’s hard not to be excited about the potential of a guy like Meyer. Nobody can say any longer that the Twins do not have a “top of the rotation” prospect in their farm system. He is certainly that.

Best of luck to Denard in Washington and thank you for all of his efforts as a Minnesota Twin.

– JC

A Full Forty – Dissecting the 40-Man Roster (Position Players)

On Monday I did a quick run down of the pitchers currently on the Twins 40-man roster.  Today I will take a look at the position players, including five catchers, nine infielders, and seven outfielders.  Several of these players will not be on the roster when the Twins head north to start the season.

Catchers (Age, Position, Highest 2012 Level)
Drew Butera – 29, 3rd Catcher, MLB – If Butera is still on the 40-man roster when the Twins break camp, the Twins are doing it wrong.  With Mauer and Doumit handling most of the catching duties, the Twins’ third catcher should be more versatile than Butera (and have some value as a bench bat), pitching ability notwithstanding.

Ryan Doumit – 31, C/RF/DH, MLB – Ryan Doumit might never pass for an average defensive catcher, but his ability to slot in at RF and DH allow the Twins to move Mauer and Morneau around and if he hits like he did in 2012 (.275/.320/.461, 18 HR and 75 RBI) the Twins will continue to reap the benefits of his very reasonable contract extension.

Chris Herrmann – 25, C/LF, MLB – Herrmann lucked into a September call-up when Mauer and Doumit were both a little nicked up and he struggled offensively while he was up.  Herrmann was off to a pretty decent Arizona Fall League performance but an injury ultimately derailed his season in Peoria.  Herrmann is pretty rough as a catcher, but he has a great arm, and like Doumit, has the ability with the bat to play well as a corner outfielder.

Joe Mauer – 29, C/DH/1B, MLB – Joe Mauer’s 2012 went a long way to erase 2011 from fan’s memories.  He led the league in OBP and if you don’t consider his 2009 MVP season, Mauer was back to being Joe Mauer.  He will probably never hit 29 home runs again, especially in Target Field, but the Twins’ flexibility with Mauer has allowed them to keep his bat in the lineup almost every day.

Josmil Pinto – 23, C/DH, AA – Pinto has virtually no shot to make the 25-man roster having barely played any ball above High-A.  The Twins like his bat, but if he’s going to stick as a catcher he’s going to have to catch a lot of breaks.  As Aaron Gleeman said in a recent podcast (I’m paraphrasing heavily), if he’s already splitting time at DH in the lower levels, he could easily be stuck at 1B or DH by the time he’s ready to put on a MLB uniform.

Old Man Jamey Carroll, Photo Credit: CapitalBabs

Jamey Carroll – 38, Utility Infielder, MLB – At 38 years-old Carroll is long past his prime as a baseball player, that the Twins might have to use him as a starting infielder in 2013 gives you a pretty good idea about how bad they’ve been at producing middle infield talent with their farm system in the recent past.  Carroll lived up (mostly) to his solid defensive and on-base percentage track record in 2012, but if this team is really building toward the future, Carroll needs to be relegated to utility infield duties by mid-season to give the youngsters more opportunity.

Brian Dozier – 25, SS, MLB – 2012 started off so well for Dozier.  Coming off a red-hot 2011 campaign, Dozier had a great spring and after crushing the ball to start the year in Triple-A the Twins called him up to be their everyday shortstop.  From there things went poorly.  Dozier hung on for 84 games hitting just (.234/.271/.332) while playing sub-par defense before the Twins sent him back down to Triple-A.  Dozier wouldn’t be the first MLB regular who failed in his first Big League opportunity, but some of the luster has worn off and he’ll need another strong spring – offensively and defensively – to play his way back into the good graces of upper management.  He should be on the 25-man roster to start the season, if for no other reason than to make sure 2012 was not a fluke.

Eduardo Escobar – 23, Utility Infielder, MLB – Escobar was obtained from the White Sox in the deal that sent Fransico Liriano to Chicago.  Escobar played sparingly with the Sox over the past two seasons playing all over the diamond (3B, 2B, SS, and LF), but he isn’t a true shortstop.   Between Dozier, Carroll and Florimon, Escobar is probably the odd man out, starting the year in Rochester.

Thomas Field – 25, MI, RF, MLB – Claimed off of waivers from the Colorado Rockies, Field has primarily played shortstop in the minor leagues, but has spent time at second base as well.  He doesn’t have a big bat, even in the Minor Leagues (.264/.359/.414 across five seasons), but he seems to be proficient with the glove.  I don’t expect him to make the 25-man roster, and he’s a guy I could easily see the Twins removing from the 40-man roster to make room for a free agent signing. EDIT: Per MLB Trade Rumors, Thomas Field has been claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim.

Pedro Florimon – 25, SS, MLB – Florimon is entering his second full season in the Twins organization after being claimed from the Baltimore Orioles at the conclusion of the 2011 season.  Florimon played in 43 games with the Twins and hit poorly but showed flashes of spectacular defense, as is Florimon’s MO.  After suffering through a combination of Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Trevor Plouffe, and Brian Dozier at SS the past couple of seasons the Twins like Florimon’s defensive upside, but he’ll have to hit better than .219 to beat out Brian Dozier and earn the starting spot at short.

Justin Morneau – 31, 1B/DH, MLB – Entering the final year of his 6 year/$80 million dollar contract, Morneau will earn $14 million dollars in 2013.  Morneau finally seemed to put his concussion behind him in the second half of 2012 and when he’s healthy he is still a valuable offensive weapon.  He plays above average defense at first base, and if he has another strong half of a year and the Twins are out of contention by the All-Star break, the Twins could easily flip him for a prospect this summer.

Chris Parmelee – 24, 1B/RF, MLB – Parmelee does not have much of anything left to prove in Triple-A after hitting a blistering .338/.457/.645 batting line in 2012, but he’s yet to have sustained success with the Minnesota Twins.  He had a red hot September in 2011, but with almost 3x as many plate appearances in 2012 he hit like a Pedro Florimon, with a little more power.  The Twins will need to find regular at-bats for Parmelee in 2013, but with a crowded outfield, Mauer and Morneau splitting time at first, and a solid rotation at DH, there just is no room for Parmelee on the roster as it is currently constructed.  I do not expect the Twins to trade Parmelee, especially with Morneau unlikely to return in 2014, and Parmelee might have to log a few more months in Rochester before a spot opens up for him on this Twins team.

Trevor Plouffe – 26, 3B, MLB – Was Plouffe’s six-week power surge for real?  Did his thumb injury keep him from succeeding at the tail end of last season?  Or was the real Trevor Plouffe something in between, a guy with questionable defensive ability and occasional power to left field?  Terry Ryan said on Monday night in an interview on 1500ESPN that the Twins want to bring in some third base competition for Plouffe this winter, but the Twins have bigger holes at shortstop and in the pitching rotation, so it seems highly unlikely that that Twins will bring in anyone that could really threaten Plouffe’s hold on the starting third base job.

Daniel Santana – 22, SS/2B, High-A – Santana is widely considered as the best shortstop prospect in the Twins system, but without any playing time above High-A, he’s not making the 25-man roster out of Spring Training.  Santana could move quickly through the system in 2013, probably starting the year in AA, and if he continues to play well and hit he could easily be in Rochester before the season’s end.  Santana just turned 22 years old, so even if he is not Big League ready until 2015, he’d still be just 25 years old.  A lot of upside here, but like many of the Twins’ best prospects, he’s a long way from donning the Twins uniform.

Oswaldo Arcia – 21, RF, AA – Arcia took another big step forward in 2012 posting one of the best batting lines of his career in a full season at Double-A.  Along with Double-A teammate Aaron Hicks, Arcia should be roaming the outfield in Rochester to start 2013, but if the Twins deal Span, Revere or Willingham he could potentially be looking at a MLB tryout in Spring Training.  As a corner outfielder he’ll need to continue to hit at Triple-A to retain his prospect value, but if he succeeds he could be a Twins regular as early as 2014.

Joe Benson – 24, CF/RF, AAA – 2012 was a lost year for Benson.  After a solid 2011 season he was rewarded with a September appearance with the Twins and while he didn’t light the world on fire, he flashed his defensive value and speed, along with a beautiful head of hair.  In 2012 Benson started the year at Triple-A, struggled and was demoted to Double-A, struggled more, was injured, rehabbed in the Rookie League and at High-A, and then struggled again at Double-A before ending the year back on the disabled list with a knee injury.  I think the Twins will put Benson back at Double-A to start 2013, but he could quickly join Arcia and Hicks in what would be a really fun outfield for the Rochester Red Wings.

Aaron Hicks – 23, CF, AA – Formerly the Twins #1 prospect, Hicks was rated as high as the 19th best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America before the 2010 season, but by 2012 he had fallen all the way off the Top 100 list.  Then, as if motivated by his removal from the list, Hicks had a great 2012 and vaulted his way back up Twins prospect lists and sits firmly behind Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton as one of the Twins’ best Minor League ballplayers.  Hicks hit .286/.384/.460 in 129 games in Double-A last year, and he also hit well from both sides of the plate, something he’d struggled to do for the past couple years, so much so that there was talk that Hicks give up his switch hitting ways.  Hicks combines a high-upside bat with spectacular defense and a great arm.  He likely has all the defensive ability of Ben Revere, but with a bat that could profile well even as a corner outfielder.  If the Twins move Willingham, Span or Revere this winter, Hicks is likely to be the best fit to fill in, but I would be a little more comfortable if he had some time in Triple-A to build on his 2012 success before handing him a starting job in Minnesota.

Darin Mastroianni – 27, CF/RF/LF, MLB – I feel like a broken record here, but if the Twins move one of their starting outfielders this winter, Mastroianni is probably the immediate beneficiary in terms of playing time.  While he’s perfectly suited in his role as a fourth outfielder, he would likely be exposed offensively if given an increased workload.  His defense is good enough for him to play everyday, but his bat would suffer.  Mastroianni’s speed and versatility give him an advantage over Chris Parmelee for a 25-man roster spot, but if the Twins are dead set on finding room for Parmelee, Mastroianni could be squeezed.

Ben Revere – 24, RF, MLB – A year ago Twins fans were clamoring for Revere to earn a full time spot in the Twins outfield, and despite his weak arm, the Twins installed him as their everyday right fielder.  Revere has the range and defensive ability to play center field, but Ron Gardenhire is a manager that frequently defers to his veterans, and even after another year of watching Revere make spectacular plays in the outfield, Gardenhire is unlikely to swap roles with Span and Revere.  The biggest takeaway from 2012 for Revere was his offensive improvement.  He’s always going to be a guy who’s batting average will sit around .300 with plenty of infield hits, and he won’t take a lot of walks, but if he continues to develop extra base power, he’ll be a Denard Span lite (which the Twins would be happy to have in center field if – again- they move Span this winter).

Denard Span – 28, CF, MLB – Span has been the Twin most frequently listed on MLB Trade Rumors, and if the Twins are really looking to bring back a quality starting pitcher, his team friendly contract makes him the most likely candidate to go.  After battling concussion issues in 2011, Denard Span played 128 games in a mostly healthy 2012 campaign and his offensive season was almost identical to his career averages.  The Twins hold a team option on Denard Span for 2015, so if the Twins keep him around, he could still be with the team when they have a realistic opportunity to contend for the AL Central.  Span is a valuable player even if the Twins are bad again in 2013, but with so many holes in their starting rotation it is hard to see Span sticking around until Opening Day.

Josh Willingham – 33, LF, MLB -2012 was a great year for Josh Willingham.  His best as a major leaguer and he was rewarded with a Silver Slugger for his 35 home runes, 110 RBIs and a .260/.366/.524 batting line.  Willingham is unlikely to repeat those numbers in 2013, but even if he’s the player he was in Washington and Oakland, he’s a valuable corner outfielder and the Twins best power hitter (though a healthy Justin Morneau could certainly give him a run for his money).  Willingham is likely locked into his left field role again in 2013, even if the Twins move Span and bring up a talented youngster.  He doesn’t play great defense, but as Babs likes to say, it looks like he’s trying really hard out there, and effort goes a long way in earning forgiveness from the fans (something Delmon Young never got the hang of).

So there they are, TWENTY ONE TWENTY position players.  The Twins are unlikely to carry five catchers on the roster once Spring Training breaks, and of the five, Drew Butera is the most likely candidate to be removed.  Of their nine infielders, I think the Twins could remove Escobar or Field without too much concern of another team claiming either player (or not), and of the two, I think Field is the most likely to be waived.  It would be tough for the Twins to sneak any of their outfielders through waivers and these seven are likely to remain unchanged in the near future.  Mastroianni could become expendable if either Arcia or Hicks join the 25-man roster, but that is likely to happen only if the Twins move one of the current MLB incumbents, likely Span or Willingham, should that scenario arise.