Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Who needs Rich Harden?

Had the Twins traded for Rich Harden, as was much imagined/desired/dreamed of during the weekend, he would have started Tuesday's game against the White Sox, not Jeff Manship.

Had Harden pitched Tuesday against the White Sox as he did on Monday against the Houston Astros — five innings, five runs allowed — the Twins probably lose that game.

Manship only went five innings too, but he had an excuse; he's been pitching garbage relief since he got called up from Triple A Rochester almost three weeks ago. He didn't get the "W," but the Twins did, and he darn well ought to get another start. Five innings of one-run ball was everything the Twins could have hoped for.

And four runs better than Harden did the night before for the Cubbies.

This is not to say that Manship is better than Harden. It is to say that sample size matters, and when you're only dealing with five or six starts — or one start — there's no guarantee that reputation and established ability will win out.


Jose Morales — No. 58 in the celebration photo above — is the second Jose Morales to be a reserve catcher/pinch hitter for the Twins.

The first one was a favorite of Gene Mauch, both in Montreal and then in Minnesota, and was a catcher in name only. What he really was was a specialist, a right-handed bat who could come off the bench cold and hit line drives. He appeared in 733 games in 12 seasons, 1973-84; 486 of them were as a pinch hitter and 265 others were as a DH.

As a pinch hitter, Jose Morales 1.0 hit .276; his 123 career pinch hits is eighth all-time.

Now we have Jose Morales 2.0. This one's a switch hitter, and a more reliable defensive catcher than 1.0 (which isn't saying a whole lot). He has been shuttled between Minnesota and Rochester, and has now four pinch hits in 10 tries.

None of them bigger than Tuesday night's game winner. Kid can hit.

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