The Twins sent Brian Buscher to Triple A Rochester on Saturday to make roster space for Orlando Cabrera, their new shortstop.
Follow me as I explain how this affects the in-game moves Ron Gardenhire has available.
Shortstop Cabrera is just that — a shortstop. He hasn’t played any other position since 2000.
Brendan Harris is a utility infielder deemed by his manager to be too inadequate defensively to play at second base.
Nick Punto and Alexi Casilla can play second or short, but neither has hit (whcih is why the Twins traded for Cabrera).
Buscher can hit, at least against righties — his on-base percentage as pinch hitter for his career is .500 — but he’s limited defensively to the infield corners.
Imagine that the Twins had demoted Casilla (again). Punto becomes the regular second baseman — but Gardenhire will be afraid to pinch-hit for him, because that would leave him with Harris playing second.
Instead, Buscher lost his roster spot, removing the best left-handed pinch-hitter. Gardenhire will be able to pinch hit for either Punto or Casilla, whoever starts at second, but probably less effectively, since the bench on most days now consists of Delmon Young (right handed), Harris, Mike Redmond and one of Punto and Casilla.
Gardenhire has gotten good mileage from Buscher and Jose Morales as pinch-hitters, but neither is now on the roster.