Minnesota Twins: Tough Decisions to be Made
Only ten games of Spring Training remain, and Twin's manager Ron Gardenhire has some tough decisions to make. Let's take a look at them:
The current starter at second base for Minnesota is Brendan Harris, but he is only batting .176 this Spring Training. Add that to his tendency to hit fly balls and how little he moves runners over and you may have a formula for change. However, Nick Punto is the one standing in the wings.
Punto hit .210 over the entire 2007 season, and is batting .172 this far into Spring Training. The deciding factor, though, could be that Punto is a better defensive player than Harris.
Punto also has problems advancing runners, and tends to fly out. I expect Gardenhire to go with Harris to start the season, but Punto might take over if he can't make a few more hits.
The Twin's need another arm in the bullpen, and would prefer it to be a left-handed arm. Glen Perkins is the obvious favorite, but he only pitched 28 2/3 innings last year due to muscle strain. Perkins is also pitching a horrible 5.73 ERA so far this spring.
The other pitchers in the race for the twelfth spot include Philip Humber, Nick Blackburn, and Brian Bass. Casey Daigle and Randy Keisler are both long shots.
Last Bench Spot
Third baseman Brian Buscher is the leading candidate for this final bench spot, but he is only batting .148 this spring, with one home run. Buscher looked good at the start of Spring Training, when he displayed his great defense and confidence. Now though, unless Buscher can step it up these last ten games, Gardenhire may be forced to choose someone else for the job.
There are really no other great options available to the Twins for this final bench position. Garrett Jones can't hit the ball well, Jon Knott is too raw and will likely start the season at AAA, Randy Ruiz doesn't even have a set position, and Matt Tolbert is too young and will remain in the minors.
Carlos Gomez has had a good, but not great Spring Training. He has hit .244 with one home run and eight stolen bases. Gomez's defense is not perfect, but he is very talented and will soon develop into a great outfielder. The question is whether or not Minnesota will tolerate the mistakes that will come from Gomez.
If they choose to go with somebody else for now, Denard Span will likely receive the job. Span is hitting .290 this Spring Training, and has the respect of many of his teammates.
The first four pitchers in the rotation seem to be set in Livan Hernandez, Scott Baker, Boof Bonser, and Francisco Liriano. Right now, there about four other pitchers racing for the final spot.
Nick Blackburn, Philip Humber, Kevin Slowey, and Glen Perkins are all fighting for the final spot. This race could be for the final two spots if Baker's case of the flu leaves him on the DL to start the season.
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