The Twins have all but wrapped up the division and for the last week both the team and fans have been looking ahead to the postseason roster. Twins players are not only playing for playoff positioning at this point, they are defining their own roles come October. There are even a few players who are now auditioning for next season. For Kyle Lohse, Jason Kubel, Jacque Jones, J.D Durbin, Mike Restovich and Cristian Guzman the end of the season is a time to prove they are worth keeping around next year.
Kyle Lohse –
Lohse is an enigma. He entered the season as the third starter and has struggled the entire year. He has occasionally shown flashes of the stuff that made people think so highly of him. Up until a couple of weeks ago there was still hope that he would emerge as the third starter in this years playoff run. After all, he still has better stuff then his competition but he has been too erratic using it. Lohse’s problems are mental; he is afraid of his fastball and as a result has often gotten behind in the count. That is a recipe for disaster and high pitch counts.
This season is no longer salvageable for Lohse and he may not have a spot on next year’s club with Scott Baker and Durbin set to make the rotation. In the final weeks Lohse needs to get a head start on improving for next year. He needs to show Gardenhire that he is willing to listen and stop frustrating the coaching staff. If he can rebound even a little he has the inside track on the fifth starter spot. If not, next year there will finally be options to replace him and he may find himself in the minors or another organization.
Jason Kubel –
Kubel was called up early so that he would be eligible for the playoff roster. So far he has not been wide eyed in his first taste of the majors. Few players have better minor league seasons then Kubel had (Forgive me, I wanted to include his stats here but for now I’m just lucky to get this post up with the way my internet is performing). In the final weeks of the season into the playoffs he will show whether he wants the right field spot right away or if he needs a little more seasoning. This is his chance to erase any doubts that he is ready and spare himself the same fate as Justin Morneau the last few seasons. Should Kubel struggle he may start the year in the minors barring a great spring.
Jacque Jones –
There is no chance Jones will be on the team next year. There are too many options to replace him and he will cost too much to keep. Jones had a good, albeit occasionally frustrating run with the team. For him, the final weeks are an audition for the rest of the 29 teams in the league. How he performs will only help to determine his market in the off-season.
The “Real Deal” Durbin –
Finally Durbin gets a chance to show if he really is the real deal. It’s been an up and down year for a guy many expected to be in the rotation at some point during the season. First he was injured early and later he struggled upon his promotion to AAA. He remains the team’s top pitching prospect and is unlikely to pitch anywhere but the big leagues next year. A couple of good outings would go a long way toward penciling him in.
Mike Restovich –
Restovich is quickly becoming one of the prospects that did not pan out. He will not see many at bats in the coming weeks and that will make it even harder for him. He has failed to make the Twins find a role for him. Next year he will be 26 and will have to stay with the big club. Now is the time for him to prove that he still might reach his potential. If Kubel needs more time, Restovich may find himself sliding into an opportunity to play and produce.
Cristian Guzman –
Finally there is Cristian Guzman. Statistically Guzman is having an above average season batting .279 with 27 doubles and 67 runs scored while playing good defense. The team has an option for next year somewhere in the 5 million dollar range. The coming weeks will help influence the team on whether he is worth all that money or if its time to cut bait. Guzman can at times play like the best player on the fields and then there are the instances where his head fails him. He is an unimposing hitter at the plate. No doubt the Twins will think long and hard about keeping him when they compare the rest of the players at his position in the league. In the end it may come down to how much money is left over after signing Brad Radke and perhaps Corey Koskie. Now is Guzman’s chance to leave a lasting impression and change some minds.