Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Goodbye, Swarzak

Anthony Swarzak
has a career ERA
of 4.48.
The Twins on Tuesday outrighted Anthony Swarzak to Triple A. That move took him off the 40-man roster and gave the former second-round draft pick the right to declare free agency, which he is expected to do.

It was time for the Twins to move on. Swarzak has averaged more than 90 innings of work in each of the past four seasons, and he's been unable to establish himself in any sort of truly useful role.

In what Baseball Reference defines as "high leverage" situations over his career, Swarzak has allowed a batting average of .308 and an OPS (On-base Plus Slugging) of .823. In "low leverage" situations, those numbers improve to .262 and .724.

Yes, Swarzak ate up a lot of innings in long relief. But they were innings that didn't matter in terms of winning games, innings that he worked because the starter failed. Good teams -- the kind of team the Twins want to be -- don't need 90-plus innings of mop-up work. And Swarzak never worked his way out of that role. Given a chance to start, given a chance to pitch in game situations, he almost always faltered.

And now, going into his second year of arbitration eligibility, he figured to get a salary around $1.4 million if retained. That's way too rich for a mop-up guy. They can fill that role with somebody cheaper.

The Twins now have 39 players on the 40-man roster. The open slot might be used in the Rule 5 draft in a couple of weeks. Or it might be filled with a free agent signing.


The Twins also on Tuesday officially announced the hirings of Neil Allen, pitching coach, and Eddie Guardado, bullpen coach, moves already widely reported. They also announced that Joe Vavra will be retained from the Ron Gardenhire staff; he'll be the bench coach.

This was not anticipated at all. I had expected that the bench coach would be a elderly ex-manager assigned to whisper strategic advice into Paul Molitor's ear. Or, alternatively, a young, analytics-savvy up-and-comer. Vavra doesn't fit either stereotype.

Adding to the bafflement was that Vavra's duties will apparently include catching instruction. Vavra's playing background was as a middle infielder. He certainly hasn't the catching pedigree of Terry Steinbach (who will not be retained). And if Steinbach couldn't smooth out Josmil Pinto's defensive flaws, I doubt Vavra can.

There remains one coaching job to fill, first base coach/outfield instructor.

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