As part of the effort to get down to 25 players for their opening day roster, the Minnesota Twins have made their third round of roster cuts. With each additional set of roster cuts, more and more difficult roster decisions are going to be made and this round of cuts definitely had its fair share of difficult choices. At first glance, the list of the seven players that were cut doesn’t seem very surprising; but if you look more closely at one of these players, Chris Colabello, one may begin to wonder why he was sent down to the minors this early. The list of the seven players that were removed from the spring training roster on Sunday morning included first baseman Chris Colabello, catcher Eric Fryer, third baseman Mark Sobolewski, outfielders Brian Dinkelman and Clete Thomas, and pitchers Deolis Guerra and Shairon Martis.
A few names may ring a bell when you are looking through the list of the players cut, but the cut that surprised me the most was the demotion of Colabello. If you can remember an article I wrote earlier this week, I talked about the emergence of Colabello in the World Baseball Classic for Team Italy. I also talked about Colabello’s career path to the Twins and the hard work and patience that he has endured to get where he is today. Granted “feel good” stories don’t earn you a roster spot, but Colabello has done enough on the field to merit a roster spot on the opening day roster for the Twins.
Colabello led Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic with two HR and seven RBI while being used primarily as a designated hitter. During his time with the Twins in spring training, Colabello reached base seven times in 17 plate appearances and also drove in three RBI. With a team that is slated to open the season with not a lot of firepower off the bench, Colabello seemed to be a logical fit as a pinch-hitter on the Twins. Unfortunately, the Twins didn’t agree with my perception and have sent Colabello to Triple-A to start the season.
This doesn’t mean that Colabello won’t work his way back into a role on the big league club, but it does mean that the Twins—as they are currently constructed—don’t have a lot of big hitters to produce off of their bench. Does this signify that the Twins are still interested in bringing in someone like Jim Thome to fill in that role? That remains to be seen, but the Twins seem content to enter the season with a bench that doesn’t offer a lot of “pop”. If the team is to contend, they will need to address this shortcoming at some point in the season.
It was easy to send Colabello down because he still has minor league options left and can be sent down without having to pass him through waivers, but Colabello did not deserve to be demoted. A player like Joe Benson deserves to be demoted, but is out of minor league options which has allowed him to remain in camp so long. There are many more difficult roster decisions yet to be made for the Twins, but the demotion of Colabello may have been the first to raise eyebrows during spring training 2013.