Friday, March 30, 2012

COPOP III: The injury factor

Kyle Waldrop's
chances of making
the 25-man roster
are pretty much gone.
The Twins open the 2012 season a week from today. I believe that the bullpen would be settled now, if not for the injury factor -- not merely among relief candidates themselves, but in the starting rotation.

Kyle Waldrop, who I figured was most likely to emerge with the final middle relief slot, is battling a sore elbow. LaVelle Neal said today the soreness was on the inside of the joint, and that gets my attention.

Then there are two putative members of the starting rotation whose status is up in the air: Scott Baker (elbow) and Jason Marquis (family emergency). Marquis has been out of camp for roughly two weeks now after his daughter's injury.

This may not have a lot of impact on the bullpen as the season begins. The Twins have an off day scheduled during their first turn through the rotation, and Liam Hendriks is likely to be Plan B if and when the Twins need to fill in for one of the starters. They won't necessarily need to get to Matt Maloney or Anthony Swarzak until the second week of the season.

So I'll leave Maloney and Swarzak in their places, and go with Jeff Gray in the spot previously filled by Waldrop:

Jeff Gray pitched
Friday against the
Red Sox and gave up
a two-run homer to
Cody Ross.
Closer: Matt Capps
Setup 1: Glen Perkins
Setup 2/Middle Relief 1: Jared Burton
LOOGY1/MR2: Brian Duensing
MR3: Gray (Alex Burnett, Casey Fien)
MR4/L2: Maloney
Long Man: Swarzak

I'm not particularly thrilled with Gray, but 

  • Gray's been pitching earlier in games than Fien;
  • Burnett has been ineffective;
  • Gray, who is on the 40-man roster, is out of options.

Terry Ryan said in the wake of the demotion of Tsuyoshi Nishioka, that options would not be a factor in who makes the team. I do not give that full credence. Options matter. They may matter less this spring than in some previous ones, but they matter.

1 comment:

  1. I think the key to Blackburn's career was the knee injury he sustained in the minors that required surgery.

    My theory:

    He starts out relatively sound each season health wise but over the course of a long season his knee eventually bothers him & Nick loses it physically each year. It resulted in arm/shoulder woes from 2010 and his sinker flattening out /elbow problems in 2011. It all stems from his knee barking at him each season.

    He is not a good risk health wise. Poor gamble to lock him up for 4 seasons back in 2010. It is not like he has outstanding stuff to start with. If ever there was a pitcher to go year to year with it was him. He doesn't miss bats.

    Maybe if he starts out strong this season they can flip him and get out from under that crappy contract before he breaks down again. If the Red Sox are looking at Blanton and his 8M from the Phils maybe Nick's $4.75 million in '12 and $5.5 million in '13 will not scare them off if they get desperate. Hendricks should be getting those innings that are being wasted on Blackburn and his limited ceiling.