Restoring the rosters: No. 12 – Minnesota

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
12th place certainly isn’t bad, but the Twins would be far higher if, instead of coming up with teams based on players drafted and originally signed, these rankings went strictly by major league debuts. Johan Santana, David Ortiz, Francisco Liriano, Jason Bartlett and Cristian Guzman came up with the Twins, but all began their minor league careers elsewhere.
Rotation
Matt Garza
Scott Baker
Kevin Slowey
Nick Blackburn
Glen Perkins
Bullpen
Pat Neshek
LaTroy Hawkins
J.C. Romero
Grant Balfour
Jose Mijares
Peter Moylan
Jesse Crain
Moylan is the only one of the 25 players on the roster the Twins would lose if going to the “major league debut” standard. He was signed by the Twins in 1996, spent two years pitching in Rookie ball and then disappeared for eight years before impressing the Braves with his performance for Australia in the 2006 WBC and debuting later that season.
The rotation options are essentially the Twins’ current group, with Garza subbing in for Liriano/Carl Pavano. That looks like a net win for this group. Anthony Swarzak is the primary alternative to Perkins in the fifth spot. Kevin Mulvey wouldn’t be, since he was part of the Santana trade with the Mets.
The bullpen would be pretty strong with a healthy Neshek (he’s currently working his way back from Tommy John surgery). I’m throwing him into the closer’s role, given Hawkins’ lack of success in his most recent American League stints. Failing to make the cut was Eddie Guardado.
Lineup
LF Denard Span
C Joe Mauer
CF Torii Hunter
1B Justin Morneau
RF Michael Cuddyer
DH Jason Kubel
3B Danny Valencia
2B Matt Tolbert
SS Luis Rodriguez
Bench
C A.J. Pierzynski
INF Doug Mientkiewicz
INF Terry Tiffee
OF Jacque Jones
There’s hope for Valencia as the future at third base, but realistically, the lineup is only six players deep. Without credit for Bartlett, Guzman or even Alexi Casilla, the Twins just don’t have any adequate middle-infield options. Rodriguez and the disappointing Trevor Plouffe were the shortstop candidates, and second base came down to Tolbert and prospect Steven Tolleson. Mientkiewicz might actually be the superior choice there.
At least the top six is really nice. Mauer is about as valuable as anyone in the game, and Hunter and Morneau have also been among the AL’s best this year.
Summary
Of course, the Twins do deserve credit for finding and developing Santana and Ortiz, even if they may have actually held Ortiz back. The Twins under former general manager Terry Ryan were probably in the top five in baseball at scouting out and developing talent. Whether that’s going to hold true under Bill Smith remains to be seen, but the early returns aren’t especially encouraging. Whereas Ryan was a scout before becoming a GM, Smith is much more of an administrator. He’ll maintain the bottom line, but he may not pull off the coups that helped get the Twins to the playoffs four times in five years from 2002-06. He certainly hasn’t so far.

Marlins defeat the Mets, then pay their respects to Jose Fernandez on the pitcher’s mound

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: Miami Marlins players all wearing jerseys bearing the number 16 and name Fernandez honor the late Jose Fernandez before the game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on September 26, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Rob Foldy/Getty Images
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The Marlins were somehow able to muster up the strength not only to play Monday night’s game against the Mets, but also win it convincingly one day after losing Jose Fernandez in a tragic boating accident. The Marlins and Mets helped pay tribute to Fernandez prior to the start of the game as outlined here.

When the game started, the Marlins came out of the gate with a bang. Dee Gordon homered in his first at-bat, then the club hung a four-spot in the second inning. They tacked on two more in the third inning to chase starter Bartolo Colon and take a commanding 7-0 lead. The Mets chipped away for two runs in the fifth on an Asdrubal Cabrera two-run homer and tacked on one more in the eighth, but ultimately fell short by a 7-3 margin.

Gordon finished 4-for-5 with the homer and two RBI. Justin Bour went 3-for-3 with a single, double, triple, and a walk along with an RBI and two runs scored.

A.J. Ramos, who closed out the win, placed the ball on the pitcher’s mound for Fernandez. The Marlins huddled around the mound and said a prayer. The players huddled closer to the rubber on the mound, then left their hats behind as they retreated to the clubhouse as fans at Marlins Park chanted, “Jose, Jose, Jose.”

In a post-game interview, Gordon called his first-inning home run “the best moment of my life,” as NBC 6 Sports reports.

Indians defeat Tigers, clinch AL Central for first division title since 2007

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 7: Roberto Perez #55 of the Cleveland Indians hits an RBI single during the second inning against the Houston Astros at Progressive Field on September 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images
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The Indians beat the Tigers 7-4 at Comerica Park on Monday night, clinching the AL Central for their first division title since 2007. Starter Corey Kluber lasted only four innings before exiting with right groin tightness, but the Indians were able to overcome the adversity.

Coco Crisp gave the Indians their first two runs with a two-run home run in the second inning off of starter Buck Farmer. The Tigers would promptly tie the game on a two-run homer by J.D. Martinez in the bottom half of the inning.

In the fifth, an RBI double by Jason Kipnis and a sacrifice fly by Mike Napoli put the Tribe back on top 4-2. The Tigers answered once again with a Miguel Cabrera RBI single in the bottom half to make it 4-3.

Roberto Perez homered for the Indians in the top of the top of the seventh, and Cabrera answered with another RBI single in the bottom half to keep it within one run at 5-4.

The Indians tacked on another insurance run in the eighth on three consecutive two-out singles by Crisp, Rajai Davis, and Perez. Carlos Santana then hit what should have been the final out of the eighth inning, but J.D. Martinez botched the catch, allowing the Indians’ seventh run to score.

Cody Allen shut the Tigers down in the bottom of the ninth, protecting the 7-4 lead for his 30th save of the season.

The last time the Indians won the AL Central, their starting lineup featured a 28-year-old Victor Martinez, a 25-year-old Jhonny Peralta, a 24-year-old Grady Sizemore, and a 26-year-old CC Sabathia. It’s been a long time.

The American League playoff picture still isn’t set yet, so the Indians will be intently watching the final week of the season to see who will be their playoff opponent.