September Call-ups for the Twins: Realistic Expectations

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.


Topper said...

Thry, good subject! I think your gut is probably right. Personally, I would DFA Dickey, Buscher, Tolbert, and Keppel. And, if the Twins truly believe they are out of contention, I think they should put Pavano and Crede on waivers to be released as well (I know it sounds extreme, but they aren't going to stick around after this year and why continue to pay them if we can send them to someone else and clear space for September?).

This would give us room to bring in Slama, Delaney, Pino, Huber, Valencia and Morillo and add them all to the 40-man to get them some time next month.

thrylos98 said...

Thanks, Topper.

I would go with the youngsters as well. I can see Crede having some value, but for as long as they are contending (unless they go 8 behind early next week) he and Pavano will stay...

They will both be gone next season, but Pavano might be a type B free agent so he could bring something beck potentially that way... Another mystery to me is Drew Butera. They have a lot of better catchers and at this point he is projected to never hit any better than his dad. He is wasting a spot...

Topper said...

Yes, true, if Pavano could bring us a supplemental pick that would be a reason to keep him.

And my suggestion of dropping him and Crede was only based on the idea that we absolutely weren't contending at which point they should consider that. Though as I'm sure most Twins fans do (and players, I hope), we still think there's a way even though it looks bleak.

I agree about Butera, I don't think he'll be much, but we might as well see how he looks in Spring Training as we don't want to lose both he AND Redmond -- in case something happens to Morales or Mauer we could use him as he's probably the most major league ready until Ramos finishes developing.

FYI enjoying your blog so much inspired me to try to start my own last week and I'd be honored if you ever have a moment to check it out!

thrylos98 said...


I checked out your blog last week and I really liked it (if you look to my list of favorite sites on the left, you will see that it is linked there since then ;) ). Saying that my blog inspired you to start your own is a HUGE compliment, thank you.

Welcome to the Twins blogosphere :)

Topper said...

Thanks for the support Thrylos!

Marv said...

Yes Topper - nice blog. I'll check in as time goes by.
So, Gabino starts for the Twins Tuesday? Guess you nailed that one.
I would really like to see Valencia.
Guys like Buscher, Tolbert and Dickey do not appear to be a factor in a new, improved Twins future. I wish them all the best, but cannot see a reason to keep them. Unless Trevor Plouffe is a truly great infielder that experiment doesn't seem to be going anywhere, either.
I see more potential value in Keppel than you do, what with the 1.15 WHIP in AAA this year being a huge improvement. He had 2 good outings prior to his Thursday adventure.
And I wonder why haven't we seen Tolleson. I wonder about a lot of things.
Should be fun to see who the Twins call up and how they do.

Another nice write-up, thry.

thrylos98 said...

Thanks, Marv.

Plouffe is very young. He is just 23. Most of the 23 year olds in the Twins' system are either in Ft. Myers or Beloit. I would probably give him the benefit of the doubt for a couple more seasons...