As always, thanks a ton to those who have agreed to do the Twins' weekly roundtable! We've got a lot to get to this week, so with further ado...
Now that the Twins have their full complement of players back, who should and shouldn't be on the playoff roster? Should Cuddyer and Everett make it over guys like Ruiz and Tolbert?
Dan Wade: Everett’s heroics last night aside, there is no way he brings nearly the value that Tolbert does. Tolbert should make the playoff roster simply because of his versatility; with Tolbert, Gardy has a lot more freedom to pinch-hit/pinch-run for someone like Harris or Punto.
As to Cuddyer and Ruiz, I hate saying this, since I hate Cuddyer, but he’s got to be included over Ruiz. Gardy hasn’t given Ruiz nearly the ABs he would need to be comfortable in the playoffs. Add that to the fact that Ruiz won’t have seen nearly any of the pitchers they would likely face, and Cuddyer has to get the nod.
Nick Nelson (Nick and Nick's Twins Blog): I certainly do not think Cuddyer should make the playoff roster; he just doesn't seem to be in playing shape after missing so much time and being unable to rehab, and his foot continues to bother him. I'm not sure about Tolbert's eligibility for the playoff roster, but if he's healthy, I'd certainly prefer him over Everett.
Seth Stohs (Sethspeaks.net): Assuming nothing negative happens to Cuddyer through the remainder of the season, he must be on the playoff roster. He's proven over years in the big leagues that he can hit. Right now, he is one-dimensional due to injury, but Ruiz is one-dimensional as well, and not as good at that dimension.
Both Everett and Tolbert would be role players in the playoffs. Everett could help at SS and bunt. Tolbert can do those things, plus run, play 3B and 2B, and hit from both sides of the plate. That's an easy one too.
Marty Andrade: The short answer is no, Cuddyer and Everett shouldn't make the playoff roster over Ruiz or Tolbert. Though there's a strong case for Everett over Tolbert, I'd still stick with Tolbert. It hurts, but the guys I wouldn't bring with me to the playoffs are: Michael Cuddyer, Ryan Jorgensen, Eddie Guardado, Matt Guerrier, Adam Everett, Nick Punto, Bobby Korecky, and Boof Bonser.
All of these players are either superfluous or ineffective at the moment.
Andrew Kneeland (Twins Fix): I will make a case against Cuddyer. I do not think he should be taking at-bats away from other players such as Ruiz and Tolbert. As you all know, he is coming back from injury and hasn't swung in a major-league game for months. He is still getting back into the groove of things and shouldn't take time away from those who have the groove. At least, are supposed to.
Should the Twins be positioning their pitching staff for the upcoming series with the Sox? What three guys would you throw, keeping in mind that the series before (in Tampa) isn't exactly a series the Twins can afford to throw away?
DW: Perkins needs to be left out; he is breaking down before our very eyes. Slowey could easily sub in on short rest, or Bonser could make a spot start, either would be better than Perk.
Baker is the guy the Twins want leading off the series, which he is, so he stays. The question then becomes, do you bring Liriano back on short rest over Blackburn, since there is no way Liriano should be pulled from the finale in Tampa.
Blackburn will get one more start before Gardy needs to make the call, if he can keep the Rays in the ballpark, he can do it against the Sox and should be left to start.
If the Rays knock him around the way the Os did in his last outing, I’d rather have Liriano, even on short rest.
NN: I'd do whatever I could to throw Baker, Slowey, and Liriano in that series. It's going to be crucial.
SS: My opinion is that you just go with the rotation as you have all year. Altering it for three games could require other moves in other games that give you less chance in those games. Those are truly big games, but it's really too late to be doing that. If I had to pick three to pitch three big games against the White Sox, I would go with the Twins three good starting pitchers right now, Kevin Slowey, Francisco Liriano, and Scott Baker. They are the three pitching well, and they are the three with the biggest upside.
MA: I wouldn't change anything. You either win with the players and rotation you've gone too all year, or you admit you're not as good as your competitor. I'd consider changing out Perkins for a different pitcher (probably Bonser, though if they'd have called up Brian Duensing I would have gone with him) as Perkins hasn't been good as of late (.396 opp-ave in September) but otherwise, I'd do nothing.
AK: Baker, Slowey, and Blackburn will pitch against Chicago. I hesitate to leave Liriano out, but that cake was fried when he was brought up. Of course, this means that Baker will not pitch against Tampa, which isn't ideal by any stretch of the imagination.
Perkins hasn't been solid at all lately, and sending him against the Rays is already a painful subject. The White Sox play the Royals before coming to the Dome, which is also painful to think about.
However, Perkins and Liriano must pitch against one (and in one of their cases, two) of these teams, and the White Sox series holds more importance, so I would hold Baker, Slowey, and Blackburn for the Calcetines Blancos.
Assuming the Twins do pass the Sox, which other potential A.L. team do you think the Twins match up well against? Who would give the Twins their steepest challenge?
DW: A matchup against the Rays would be very strange, given all the former Twins on the Rays and vice versa. I still see them as the best matchup for the Twins, with Boston being the worst.
SS: The Twins would matchup best, obviously, against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays are a very talented team with excellent young pitching, so I would expect low-scoring games. They have fought with injury much of the last month.
The Red Sox and Angels can battle it out to see who gets to go to the World Series. I still think that the Red Sox would be tough to beat, but the Angels are probably the best team in the league.
MA: I would put the Twins down as a four-and-out team in the playoffs this year. I think we'd have our best chance against the Angels, but I don't see any likelihood of being able to beat neither the Red Sox nor the Rays.
AK: If we have to play in Boston, we're toast.
Last one: Target Field, aye or nay?
DW: I was pushing for 3M to make a bid and name it something really creative. That said, I’m pushing hard for the nickname of “The Spot” for target field. Twins/Sox AT THE SPOT now on ESPN. It’s got some zing to it.
NN: Not great, but it could be a lot worse.
SS: Eh. Doesn't do anything for me really.
MA: I haven't been in a Target in nearly a decade; I'd hate to start now. Naming rights to stadiums is one of those aspects of the modern game I dislike the most. I'd rather have no corporate naming rights at all.
Let them name it after a prominent Minnesota theme ("Mosquito Nest Field") or local landmark ("Garbage Incinerator Park") or even something cliché ("City of Lakes Stadium").
AK: Aye, but I think there were better options. Penny-Pinching-Pohlad Park is my personal favorite. I also think the Twins should have contacted Mars regarding rights to M&M Field. Lutefisk Park, Norwegian Turf, and Homer Hanky Housing all were decent possibilities as well.
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