Sunday, June 14, 2009

Swarzak, the roster shuffle and other things

The hook to the game stories from the Twins' Saturday's 2-0 win over the Cubs: Anthony Swarzak throws seven shutout innings, gets shipped to minors. Which is both accurate and easy to write, and paints Twins management as a little dimwitted, which isn't accurate.

Swarzak made five starts while filling in for Glen Perkins. Two were quite good, two were lousy and one was mediocre — in terms of runs allowed. The stat line — 2-2, 3.90, 10 walks and 18 strikeouts — is quite acceptable, especially for a fifth starter. In terms of process, not so much.

Zero in for a moment on a sequence of hitters Saturday. Swarzak dispatched the first hitter of the third inning (Ryan Theriot) on three called strikes. Then he fell behind Aaron Miles 2-0; Miles singled on the 2-1 pitch. Rich Harden, the Cubs pitcher, was up to sacrifice, but Swarzak threw two balls to open the at-bat before Harden bunted the 2-0 pitch. Then he fell behind Alfonso Soriano 2-0; Soriano tapped the 3-1 pitch to short to end the inning. Swarzak went 3-1 on Mike Fontenot to lead off the third; Fontenot also grounded to short.

At that point, I wouldn't have given a dime for Swarzak's chances of getting through the fifth inning. And Cub manager Lou Piniella was probably regretting that he hadn't had Harden take a strike before bunting.

To be fair, Swarzak's ball-strike ratio for the day was pretty good — 63 strikes, 37 balls, and first pitch strikes to 16 of the 26 men he faced. But I suspect the Cubs lack of plate discipline had something to do with it.


The Twins are now in the odd situation of having two catchers on the bench (Mike Redmond and Jose Morales) and no outfielders.

The Twins play this afternoon in Wrigley. They have Monday off, and Perkins is supposedly to start Tuesday. So Morales, called up to take Swarzak's place on the roster, might be there just for one game.

Much depends on the health of Denard Span and/or Michael Cuddyer. If either is to go on the DL, Perkins can be activated to fill the roster spot. If not, Morales goes back to the Red Wings.

The Twins have just one outfielder in the minors on their 40-man roster. That's Jason Pridie, who is not having a good season so far for the Red Wings (.280 OBP, .333 SLG). Rather than call him up, the Twins will apparently use either Nick Punto or Matt Tolbert in the outfield if need be.


The results of the 3300-game-winner poll: 15 votes. Maddux was the choice of 9 respondents (60%). Clemens and Johnson got two votes each (13%) and Glavine one (6%). I'm surprised Glavine got that much support. A great pitcher, but ... the others were clearly better.

Next poll up.

The Hoffmann watch: NUN Jamie Hoffmann had one pinch-hitting appearance last week and made an out. He's now at .182 with the Dodgers.

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