September is the time in a baseball season when the major league rosters "expand". This is the time when teams "call up" minor league players to either help them in a pennant race or to give the players a try out for the next season. First I will describe the rules that govern this process as well as analyze potential consequences of different moves:
"Roster expansion" in September refers to the fact that from September 1st each team is allowed to play all the players in its 40-man roster in major league games. Prior to September only players who are in their 25-rosters (or "major league" rosters) are eligible to play. The 40-man roster includes minor league players that the team wants to protect from the Rule 5 draft, as well as players on the 15-day disabled list. Players on the 60-day DL do not take a spot on either roster. To be called up a player needs to be in a team's 40-man roster. If the 40-man roster is full, a player on the roster needs to be removed (designated for assignment, DFA) before a new player takes his spot.
Twins' fans have the expectation that potential bullpen solutions such as Robert Delaney and Anthony Slama as well as the future third baseman, Danny Valencia, Yohan Pino who has been pitching remarkable in Rochester in August, and the minor league leader in home runs, Justin Huber, will be wearing Twins' pinstripes in September.
How realistic is this?
Here are the players in the Twins' 40-man roster, currently not on the 25-man roster (and their status):
R.A. Dickey (AAA)
Armando Gabino (AAA)
Francisco Liriano (DL)
Kevin Mulvey (AAA)
Glen Perkins (DL)
Drew Butera (AAA)
Jose Morales (AAA)
Wilson Ramos (AA)
Brian Buscher (AAA)
Luke Hughes (AA)
Trevor Plouffe (AAA)
Deibinson Romero (A+)
Matt Tolbert (AAA)
Steven Tolleson (AAA)
Jason Pridie (AAA)
It is a safe bet that Francisco Liriano and Glen Perkins will be in with the Twins in September. It also a safe bet that Jose Morales will be also with the big team in September, as is Armado Gabino. Steven Tolleson, Jason Pridie and Trevor Plouffe have good possibilities to see action as well.
Anthony Slama, Danny Valencia, Yohan Pino, Justin Huber and Robert Delaney would need to replace 5 players in the 40-man roster to be called up. Another option is the fireballer Juan Morillo.
Who could those players be? In addition to the above, Bobby Keppel and Philip Humber are currently on the 25-man (and 40-man roster). It is possible that the Twins will DFA them to open 2 positions in their 40-man roster. There are 3 more positions needed to fit these players. And this is where it comes to hard decision time for the Twins:
Looking at the 40-man roster, the candidates for replacement are: R.A. Dickey, Brian Buscher, Matt Tolbert, Drew Butera, Jason Pridie and Luke Hughes.
I do not think that the Twins will give up on the last 3, since they are younger. So the tough decisions the Twins have to make are: who has a bigger future with the organization and do they want the future to start in September or in November (when these players would have to be added to the 40-man roster to protect them in the Rule 5 draft)
Yohan Pino/Anthony Slama/Robert Delaney/Juan Morillo or R.A. Dickey
Danny Valencia or Brian Buscher
Jason Huber or Matt Tolbert.
It is a hard decision. Danny Valencia will be added to the 40-man roster sooner or later and I hope that it is sooner. I do not see R.A. Dickey with the organization in 2010 and I would like to see what Yohan Pino can do in September. Also, Tolbert has been pretty much a failure and the presence of Alexi Casilla, Nick Punto and Brendan Harris, makes him unnecessary at this point.
My logic says that the Twins should go with all 5 younger choices here, esp. since this will give them a competitive advantage in September. My gut says that at least Buscher and Tolbert and probably R.A. Dickey will be up. This will allow only 2 (at most, if the Twins DFA Keppel and Huber) of the 5 deserving non-roster candidates to be up in September.
I hope that the Twins surprise me
What is your opinion? Feel free to comment.