With Michael Cuddyer gone for the rest of the road trip — he's on bereavement leave after the death of his father-in-law — the Twins filled his roster spot not with an outfielder but with a third baseman, Danny Valencia (pictured).
Valencia has been called the Twins third baseman of the future, but he's 25, is not a notable defensive player and hasn't hit a homer yet this season in Triple A. His future isn't all that promising.
Still, it's a pretty good bet that he'll start every game that he's up for.
A few other thoughts:
- Who's the fourth outfielder? Nick Punto? Matt Tolbert? Ugh. This team is even more vulnerable now to an outfield injury or ejection.
- One reason to call up Valencia rather than an outfielder: There are no minor league outfielders on the 40-man roster. The Twins aren't going to waive somebody else to bring an outfielder up for four games.
- Another reason: As unimpressive as Valencia's minor league numbers appear on closer examination, with Cuddyer out for the next four games, the Twins badly need some right-handed thump, especially against Oakland. Today's game is against a right-handed starter (Felix Hernandez); no real problem with having Jim Thome DH with an outfield of Delmon Young-Denard-Span-Jason Kubel. Oakland, however, has a lot of lefties in its rotation, and two of them (Dallas Braden and Gio Gonzalez) are scheduled to face the Twins this weekend. Neither Thome nor Kubel hit southpaws all that well. Cuddyer will be missed in those games.
- Unlike Trevor Plouffe, who got a brief stretch in the lineup in J.J. Hardy's stead, Valencia plays a position at which the Twins cannot be satisfied with what they've gotten so far. If he hits, might he displace Punto and Brendan Harris? (If he does, Tolbert loses his spot again when Cuddyer returns next week.)