Friday, May 21, 2010
The truffe on Plouffe and other matters
Thirteen pitchers no more: Jeff Manship sucked up four outs in what passed for a long-relief stint on Thursday and was immediately returned to Rochester, with shortstop "prospect" Trevor Plouffe getting the call.
Plouffe (pictured) was the first of three or five first-round picks (depending on how you count the "first-round supplement" picks) the Twins made in 2004. He was pushed through the system a rung at a time, never really standing out at any level but getting legitimate credit for holding his own while generally being one of the youngest players in the league.
That's not the case any more, although he's not yet 24 years old. This is his third season at Triple A, and maybe something's started to click -- he's hitting over .300 for the first time in his minor league career, and showing some power as well, and he did get a hit the other day against Steven Strasburg. Of course, it's only 170-some plate appearances.
Plouffe's callup will please Seth Stohs, at least; Stohs, who keeps pretty close tabs on the Twins farm system, was pretty displeased that Matt Tolbert got the original call-up when J.J. Hardy went on the disabled list.
I have my doubts how much Plouffe will play these next few days. Brendan Harris isn't doing much, but Alexi Casilla has looked pretty good to these eyes. If Plouffe were still seen as the shortstop of the future, they'd clearly play him at whatever level he's at, but I doubt he's as well regarded now as he was six years ago.
Stohs is critical of the decision to option out Manship rather than Jose Mijares or dumping Jesse Crain, but it's the right move. Manship was up purely for a long-relief outing. He's a starter, not a bullpen guy, and needs to be ready to step into the Twins rotation if and when injury strikes.
Francisco Liriano through May 2: 4-0, 6 earned runs allowed in 36 innings, a 1.50 ERA.
Liriano since then: 0-3, 13 earned runs in 16.2 innings, 7.02 ERA.
He threw 123 pitches on May 2. Ron Gardenhire had reason to stretch him out that day -- the bullpen was in bad shape -- and one cannot say conclusively that the heavier use led to the slump, but it's another data point for the pitch count advocates.
We'll see if Bert Blyleven ever notices.
The Twins demoted a handful of prominent prospects this week -- Joe Benson, Chris Parmelee, Estarlin de los Santos -- and both Stohs and the Star Tribune's La Velle Neal were struck in particular by the demotion of Benson, who, at least by the stats, had recovered from a horrid start and was producing.
Something had to give. The New Britain (Conn.) team -- the Twins Double-A affiliate -- is just 9-29 this season, this despite having been loaded with a goodly percentage of the organization's top prospects.