La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Postgame. Post roster shakeup. Some thoughts

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III under Roster moves Updated: May 10, 2012 - 12:33 AM

The Twins lost 6-2 on Wednesday but made bigger news after the game with a few roster moves.

Here are a few initial thoughts after the Twins wear out the transaction wire.

1. Who is Darin Mastroianni? The Twins claimed him off waivers from the Blue Jays in February. Dude can run. He once stole 70 bases in a minor league season. He didn't show too much in spring training but wasn't expected to make the club anyway. When he got off to a slow start at Class AA New Britain, it looked like a bad move.

But Mastroianni took off once he got to Class AAA Rochester, batting .346. He can play all three outfield positions, he doesn't hit for power and can play a little second base. A little. "Mastroianni’s been playing the living fire out of the game down there,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They told me he’s the most exciting player down there. Terry (Ryan) has been down there watching that team for a week or so. I talked to the manager down there, Gene Glynn. He told me this kid has been playing really well, swinging the bat really well. Probably the most exciting player they have on that baseball team right now, running bases, stealing bases. He can fly. We’ll see. We’ll see how he does.”

2. Who is P.J. Walters? Walters has some major league experience with the Cardinals and Blue Jays. According to, Walters' fastball is around 88 mph to go with a slider, cutter, curve and change. "Strike-thrower, mixes all his pitches in,'' Gardenhire said. "Velocity's somewhere between 87 to 90. Very confident. They tell me he's the best pitcher available right now. He's throwing the ball very, very well. He was right up there with Mr. Diamond, so hopefully he'll be able to come up here and do some of that. He's very tough, and he gets after it pretty good. So we'll see what happens."
3. Is this it for Danny Valencia? I don't think so. It's hard to find good third baseman in the league. If Valencia can get his offense going, he will be back. He was a little better defensively but there are some things he can smooth out (like that hitch when he gets ready to throw the ball). Gardy pointed out his flaws - which some readers didn't like - but it appeared that Valencia made a serious attempt to get better during the offseason. If he maintains that approach he will eventually be back in the majors.
4. Who plays where? For now, look for Jamey Carroll and Trevor Plouffe to play third, and Alexi Casilla could wind up there some as well. Not sure how much Mastroianni will play, with Erik Komatsu already here. Gardy could throw a lot of speed in the lineup if he wanted. He might have to to get the offense going. I really would like to see Plouffe get more time in right field. We've seen him play in the infield and his throws got him into trouble.
5, Who's next? Ben Revere, Clete Thomas, Sean Burroughs, Danny Valencia, Liam Hendriks, Luke Hughes and Matt Maloney all have been with the Twins this season but are now elsewhere. Wow. Didn't think I would be writing about Walters and Mastroianni on May 10!  Not sure who else they could move. Chris Parmelee is struggling but they need him to play first base until Justin Morneau gets healthy and can play there some. Plouffe is out of options. Will they keep three catchers the whole year? Anthony Swarzak could use a few good outings. Deolis Guerra could make his debut if he keeps throwing well.
The thing is, folks, there's going to be more roster shakeups down the road. I expect the Twins to deal veterans-for-prospects at the trade deadline. And will the Nats make a serious move for Denard Span? This roster really could look different during the second half of the year. Ryan has made it clear that, if player's don't play well, they will be replaced.




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