Diving into the depths: Minnesota Twins

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Minnesota Twins
Rotation
1. Scott Baker
2. Nick Blackburn
3. Kevin Slowey
4. Carl Pavano
5. Francisco Liriano
6. Glen Perkins
7. Brian Duensing
8. Anthony Swarzak
9. Jeff Manship
10. Mike Maroth
11. Tyler Robertson
12. Carlos Gutierrez
I had Liriano seventh when I did the depth chart for the draft guide a month ago, but I think there’s greater reason for optimism now following his successful stint in the Dominican Winter League. If Liriano does manage to walk away with a rotation spot, then a trade involving Perkins would become a more likely possibility. Maybe he’d fetch the backup center fielder the Twins need.
Bullpen
1. Joe Nathan
2. Matt Guerrier
3. Jose Mijares
4. Jon Rauch
5. Jesse Crain
6. Pat Neshek
7. Francisco Liriano
8. Clay Condrey
9. Brian Duensing
10. Glen Perkins
11. Anthony Slama
12. Kyle Waldrop
13. Carlos Gutierrez
14. Mike Maroth
15. Rob Delaney
16. Alex Burnett
17. Ryan Mullins
Liriano should round out the pen if he’s not in the rotation. Otherwise, it would seem to be a battle between Condrey and Duensing, though Duensing is another possibility for the rotation. Or maybe Crain will be traded if the relievers below him impress.


Catcher
1. Joe Mauer
2. Jose Morales
3. Drew Butera
4. Wilson Ramos
First base
1. Justin Morneau
2. Michael Cuddyer
3. Erik Lis
Second base
1. Orlando Hudson
2. Nick Punto
3. Alexi Casilla
4. Matt Tolbert
5. Brendan Harris
Third base
1. Nick Punto
2. Brendan Harris
3. Danny Valencia
4. Matt Tolbert
5. Luke Hughes
Shortstop
1. J.J. Hardy
2. Nick Punto
3. Matt Tolbert
4. Alexi Casilla
5. Brendan Harris
With Morales iffy for Opening Day after wrist surgery, either Butera or the 22-year-old Ramos could open the season as Mauer’s backup.
Left field
1. Delmon Young
2. Jason Kubel
3. Jacque Jones
4. Juan Portes
Center field
1. Denard Span
2. Delmon Young
3. Ben Revere
4. Jacque Jones
5. Rene Tosoni
Right field
1. Michael Cuddyer
2. Jason Kubel
3. Jacque Jones
4. Juan Portes
5. Rene Tosoni
Designated hitter
1. Jason Kubel
2. Jim Thome
3. Justin Morneau
With Thome, Harris and the backup catcher set to occupy bench spots, the Twins have just one spot open. A legitimate backup center fielder would be nice, but the team will likely go with either Casilla or Tolbert. While Casilla is the greater talent and has the advantage of being out of options, the organization seems to prefer Tolbert.

The Blue Jays and the Toronto press are fueding with each other

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 3:  Manager John Gibbons #5 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on from the dugout during the first inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 3, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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The Blue Jays are poised to make the playoffs for the second year in a row and are playing a critical series with the Orioles, the outcome of which will likely determine who gets to play at home for that one-and-done game next week. Big stakes! Must keep focused!

Or, alternatively, maybe it’s time to have a silly, juvenile feud with the press. Here’s Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun, asking why the Jays are doing stuff like this while fighting for the playoffs:

Why, for example, would the leaders on the team allow someone to put up on a wall photos of two Toronto sports writers with an ‘X’ scratched on their face and the a message written on top reading, ‘Do not grant them interviews’ (or words to that effect)? . . . Things like: Someone cranking up the music just when the media arrives to conduct pre-game interviews.

Not that the Jays have been treated wonderfully by the press themselves:

There was an incident the other night when a couple of journalists tried to corral struggling closer Roberto Osuna for an interview, but he kept blowing them off. Finally, one reporter followed him right into a private part of the clubhouse and told him off.

That’s . . . not what you’re supposed to do.

Still, there is zero point to get into silly feuds with the media. If they overstep their bounds, there are a TON of Jays officials and, I suspect, newspaper editors, who will quickly and eagerly discipline the reporter. You don’t have to make wanted posters and act like children. Partially because it’s just a bad look. But also, because it leads to news stories about it like the one in the Toronto Sun.

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 29: Rain falls during a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium on September 29, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights.

Oh, and here is my take on the idiotic ending to the Reds-Cardinals game which could potentially cost the Giants a playoff berth.

Nationals 5, Diamondbacks 3: Wilmer Difo hit his first major league homer. Pedro Severino hit his second. No National succumbed to season-ending injuries. So a rare success for Washington in these final days of the regular season.

Yankees 5, Red Sox 1: CC Sabathia allowed one run and four hits while pitching into the eighth inning. It was only his ninth win of the year — his first win in a month — but he lowered his ERA to 3.91. He strike out fewer guys than he used to, walks more and allows more hits. But the fact that he made 30 starts this year and made at least a modest return to form suggests that, maybe, Sabathia still has something in the tank. Not as an ace, of course, but at least as a guy who can give you some respectable innings at the back of a rotation. In other news, the Yankees were eliminated in the middle of this game by virtue of the Orioles beating the Blue Jays. Inevitable, but the mere fact that they staved off elimination until game 159 is pretty impressive given all that has happened this year.

Cubs 1, Pirates 1: You don’t see many ties in baseball. Unless it’s spring training. Or, like, 1912 or something and it gets dark. Thank Mother Nature for the game being called at 1-1. Thank this game having no playoff implications whatsoever for it not being resumed at a later date. It was the first tie in a regular season game since 2005.

Orioles 4, Blue Jays 0: Ubaldo Jimenez and two relievers combined on a three-hit shutout. Jimenez allowed one of those hits in his six and two-thirds innings. The O’s and Jays are tied in the Wild Card standings with Detroit (1.5 back) and Seattle (2 back) the only ones left who can break up their postseason party.

Braves 5, Phillies 2Freddie Freeman‘s 30-game hitting streak ended but the Braves won for the 10th time in 11 games. The Tigers play Atlanta in the season’s final series. A month or two ago that looked like a nice way to end things. Right now, however, there’s a decent chance that the Braves help end the Tigers season. If that comes to pass, please say a prayer for those Braves fans you know who are engaged to grumpy Tigers fans come Sunday. Not, um, that I know any of those.

Twins 7, Royals 6:

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Same.

Cardinals 4, Reds 3: Not sure what else there is to say at this point that I didn’t say here. I dunno, Yadier Molina and Jedd Gyorko hit solo homers. Wheeeeeee.

Rays 5, White Sox 3: Congratulations to Chris Archer for avoiding his 20th loss of the season. Pitcher wins and losses mean little about the skill or prowess of a pitcher, but it’s better not to be the answer to a trivia question like that.

Dodgers 9, Padres 4Joc Pederson doubled twice and drove in three as the Dodgers avoided a sweep. The Dodgers are two games behind the Nationals with three to play in the race for home-field advantage in their division series matchup. Between that and possibly keeping the Giants out of the Wild Card game, they have a lot to play for this weekend in San Francisco.

Mariners 3, Athletics 2: Mike Zunino hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning to keep the Mariners alive for at least one more day.

Giants 7, Rockies 2: Johnny Cueto started out a bit shaky, giving up two in the top of the first, but he settled down and didn’t allow anything else in his remaining six innings. It was close until the sixth when the San Francisco pulled ahead, thanks in part to an uncharacteristic defensive blunder by Nolan Arenado. The Giants control their own destiny in the Wild Card, standing a game ahead of St. Louis with three to play.

Indians vs. Tigers: POSTPONED: The leaves of brown came tumbling down

Remember in September in the rain
The sun went out just like a dying amber
That September in the rain

To every word of love i heard you whisper
The raindrops seemed to play our sweet refrain
Though spring is here to me it’s still September
That September in the rain