The Twins cut five more guys yesterday - four that weren't surprises and one that is. Left-handed reliever Mike Venafro was reassigned to Rochester, and has three days to decide if he'll accept it or become a free agent. If he accepts it, he'll wait his turn as a left-handed reliever in the bullpen, possibly competing with Ricky Barret for that opportunity.
Venafro was a surprise because he had a chance of taking the last spot on the roster. Instead, there are now 29 players still in camp, and 23 of them can feel comfortable that they'll be able to watch the Opening Day festivities up close. The rest are at least nominally competing for two spots. Or rather, two are competing for one spot (the fifth starter), and five are competing for the last spot (the 25th man).
The fifth starter spot has been talked about ad nauseum. Carlos Silva has been absolutely awful, but it's more telling that Matt Garza hasn't even had a chance to be that. Instead, he's been relegated to pitch the late innings of games, after the other teams are inserting backups and prospects. If the Twins were serious about Garza, I suspect we'd have seen him with at least one start over the last week or so. Silva's trying his best to convince the Twins he belongs in Rochester, but he hasn't succeeded so far.
If the Twins do the right thing and keep Garza, they still have a decision to make about who the 25th guy will be. It would probably mean keeping Silva as a 7th bullpen arm, but does that do him any favors? If he really wants to recover, he likely needs to pitch as a starter and work through the problems that he doesn't seem to have in his bullpen sessions. Plus, it's not like he's going to walk away from his $4.35 million salary.
But if not Silva, who? JD Durbin has been similarly awful, needs work in AAA at least as much as Silva, and is also a long shot to catch on with any other club. Josh Rabe has had a nice spring, and I suppose that you could make the case that he could replace Lew Ford, but that just calls into question the wisdom of re-signing Ford - a light-hitting right-handed sixth outfielder who could just as easily be replaced by Rabe.
To be honest, I can't even figure out who the 29th guy in camp is. But the 28th probably has the best shot of breaking with the team besides Silva. That's Chris Heintz, who could be a 3rd catcher, which would supposedly allow Gardy to have Mauer bat more at designated hitter.
I'm tired of beating that dead horse, but I'll do it one more time. On the rare occassion that an injury forces a DH to become a catcher, the pitcher needs to bat. That's not an issue late in the game, when the Twins are usually switching relievers every inning anyway. It might be an issue early in the game, in which case you let the pitcher have one damn at-bat. Or have MAtt Guerrier earn his paycheck. This isn't rocket science, and nobody needs to burn a 25th roster spot to solve it. (Thwap. Neigh. THWAP! Silence.)
Unless, of course, there are no better options, and frankly, that's kinda looking like it's the situation. You could make the case that giving it to Silva or Durbin would hurt them more than it would help them. What the Twins could really use is a left-handed bat with some power off the bench, but they didn't even bring anyone like that into camp. (Unless you cound Garret Jones. And you really shouldn't.)
It's not the organization's finest hour, to be sure. The team couldn't find a backup shorstop, completely ignored any left-handed pop, and now has a roster spot for which they essentially don't need and aren't really going to use.
This organization prides itself on the little things, and generally they succeed. But now they find themselves with plenty of needs, an open roster spot, and no candidates to fill them. They'll take plenty of heat over the next couple of days about who they bring north. But maybe we should be looking a little closer on who they brought south.