Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Lots of moves, lots of criticism

The Jaime Garcia trade finally went down Monday. The trade itself is OK, with one curious aspect. The roster ramifications of adding the veteran lefty starter have, in my opinion, been mishandled.

I discussed in the Monday print column why such a trade was a logical move. Two (to three) months of Garcia will cost the Twins Huascar Ynoa, a 19-year-old Dominican signed in 2015 for a $800,000 bonus. He has to this point put up a 5.26 ERA at Elizabethton (25.2 innings), not that Appy League stats matter. Ynoa is a strong armed project who might make it and might not, a genuine lottery ticket. The major league team has a chance at a playoff spot and it desperately needs competence in the back of the rotation. Giving up Ynoa for Garcia is sensible.

Plus it probably saves me from having to learn to spell Huascar Ynoa.

Less obvious is the addition of "Quadruple A" catcher Anthony Recker. He's 33, he has accumulated 630 major league plate appearances over seven seasons, he landed on the 40-man roster via the trade and I don't really see the point. I would not only rather have Chris Gimenez than Recker, I'd rather have Mitch Garver. (At this point, I might rather have Garver than Gimenez, but that's another matter.) The Twins now have five catchers on their 40-man roster, which seems excessive (Jason Castro, Gimenez, Garver, Recker and John Ryan Murphy).

The Twins, as noted in Monday's post, pushed Craig Breslow off both the active roster and the 40-man roster after Sunday's game. I had expected that they would fill the 25-man spot by bringing back Rule 5 pick Justin Haley from the disabled list. Instead they recalled Alan Busenitz and returned Haley to Boston. Nothing against Busenitz, but I don't care for abandoning the Haley project at this point, even though they almost certainly would have to carry his Rule 5 restrictions over to next season.

Dumping Haley does open a second 40-man roster spot, and they needed that to accommodate the addition of Recker -- assuming that they needed to add Recker. Meanwhile, it's worth noting that last winter the Twins exposed catcher Stuart Turner to the Rule 5 draft and lost him to Cincinnati; in a very real sense, this series of roster moves amounted to trading Turner for Recker. Turner hasn't done much for the Reds, but he's still there, and he's about eight years younger than Recker.

Recker, at least for now, is assigned to Rochester. Garcia, obviously, needs to be on the 25-man roster. And the Twins got there by optioning Kyle Gibson to Rochester for the second time this season. They're going to stick with Bartolo Colon in the rotation.

I've little good to say about Gibson's pitching this season. He remains a highly frustrating pitcher. But if it's a binary choice -- I have to start either Gibson or Colon -- I'd go with the guy with the 6.08 ERA on the season (94 innings) over the guy with the 8.00 ERA (72 innings).

Pedro Martinez, who knows more about pitching than I ever will, backs his countryman Colon:

I will say this for Colon: He made his first two starts against some stiff lineups, the Yankees and the Dodgers. Those were not cupcake assignments. Gibson's seven shutout innings in his most recent start came against a much softer lineup (Detroit).

I would go with Gibson over Colon, which is not claiming that either is an optimal choice.

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