Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The move to make room for Glen Perkins: The demotion of Jesse Crain.
This is a surprise in the sense that I didn't think he had options left. Also in the sense that he makes $1.7 million, and I doubt that at this point he was on a split contract. That they got him off the roster, at this point, is hardly shocking. That happens to pitchers with ERAs in the eights.
So ... Now the Twins have 11 pitchers, six of them in the bullpen (Joe Nathan, Jose Mijares, Matt Guerrier, Luis Ayala, Sean Henn, R.A Dickey). Even with seven relievers, Ron Gardenhire was piling up the appearances for Guerrier, Mijares and Henn. Crain's ineffectiveness had made him unusable, so in a sense dropping to six doesn't change anything.
But something has to. The Guerrier overuse, in particular, mirrors last season and threatens to fulfill a definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.
One of two things has to happen: A) a seventh (reliable) reliever is added, or B) Gardenhire stops using two or three relief pitchers to pitch two innings and goes to using one set-up man a day. I wrote several weeks ago about the now-bygone technique of a relief rotation.
There are some obvious parallels between the people in this bullpen and the core of the 1987 pen.
Nathan equals Jeff Reardon. Mijares is a lefty version of Juan Berenguer — chubby power arm. Ayala and Guerrier are somewhat comparable to George Frazier and Keith Atherton. Then there's Henn to provide a lefty fill-in and Dickey for the long man role.
This can work. But it would be a real shift in the way Gardenhire and pitching Rick Anderson have handled dividing the bullpen workload, and I don't really expect them to try it.