Over at Nick's Twins Blog yesterday, fellow TwinsCentrician Nick Nelson wrote a terrific blog article called Four Questions About the Playoff Roster. Be sure to go there to read the entire blog, but he asked the following questions:
- Who starts Game 1?
- Who starts Game 4?
- What is Scott Baker's role?
- Can Justin Morneau return?
All great questions, to be sure. It will be fun over the final ten games to see how those things play out. There is another playoff roster discussion that could soon become a bigger talker. Who will the Twins backup catcher be in the playoffs? Here are the candidates:
- Drew Butera - Butera has been the team's backup catcher all season long. Despite a .180 batting average, he is a defensive wizard behind the plate. He has a strong and accurate arm. He has the full confidence of the pitchers on the staff.
- Jose Morales - Morales was set to be the team's backup catcher until his January wrist injury meant that he would miss the first couple of months of the season. When he was healthy, he was optioned to AAA Rochester. He is not strong at all defensively, although he is a decent athlete and works hard back there. Offensively, he is a solid singles hitter.
The reality is that we would all hope that this is a very unimportant question because we all hope that Joe Mauer does all of the catching for the Twins throughout the playoffs. In a worst case scenario in which he was hurt in a game, he could be replaced the next day.
If the Twins play the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that runs the bases at any time, I would want Drew Butera to be the backup. If he had to play, he could at least control the running game. The Rays would run all over Jose Morales.
If the Twins play the New York Yankees, a team that would not run as much (And yet have Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter), it may be more important to have a guy who might get one more hit in that partciular game than Butera.
Jose Morales could be used as a pinch hitter. However, take a look at the 100% healthy Twins lineup... who would you pinch hit for? When would he ever be used as a pinch hitter?
Let's take a look at the Twins bench players as of today. Nick Punto, Alexi Casilla and Jason Repko are the givens. My personal opinion is that Drew Butera should also be a given.
If the Twins go with a 14 hitter roster (11 pitchers), there would be room for one more hitter. Would it be Morales (to pinch hit), Matt Tolbert (a third utility infielder?) or Ben Revere (for pinch running purposes)? Who would you bring?
It is also possible, though not ideal, that the Twins would go with 12 pitchers in the playoffs. If they did that, then someone like Scott Baker fits into the question of, who is the 25th man on the playoff roster?
I know that Ron Gardenhire does not want to talk about the playoffs until the team clinches. With last night's Twins win coupled with the White Sox 7th straight loss, the Twins magic number is just two. That means that one more win by the Twins or loss by the White Sox, and there would at least be a Game 163. The Twins aren't going to go 0-10, and the White Sox aren't going to go 0-10 (I don't think, although Ozzie Guillen's teams collective choking makes it a possibility).
So, let's summarize the Twins playoff roster, starting with the Givens:
- SP - Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing
- RP - Matt Capps, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, Brian Fuentes, Jose Mijares.
- Starters - Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, Orlando Hudson, JJ Hardy, Danny Valencia, Delmon Young, Denard Span, Jason Kubel, Jim Thome
- Bench - Jason Repko, Nick Punto, Alexi Casilla,
So, we have nine pitching spots covered. There are two more spots, and as of today, they would be filled by Nick Blackburn (4th starter), and probably Kevin Slowey in long relief. Scott Baker is also a possibility if he pitches well down the stretch and is healthy. As of today, Baker, Jeff Manship, Glen Perkins, Randy Flores, Pat Neshek and Alex Burnett are on the outside looking in.
It would appear that twelve of the fourteen hitters on the playoff roster are filled. They will want a catcher between Drew Butera and Jose Morales. I would go with Butera. So there is one more roster spot for a hitter and that would be between Morales, Tolbert and Revere. And, if they go with 12 pitchers, it is possible Scott Baker would also compete for that final roster spot.
What do you think? Who would comprise your postseason roster?
- John will be on KFAN's Power Trip Morning Show on Tuesday at about 7:20 to talk about the Twins.
- Seth has been keeping updated with the Twins Magic Number since this time last week, when it was at 14. One week later, it is at 2.