Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Roster issues

Nick Punto (left) made it through all nine innings Monday, which suggests that the infielder isn't headed to the disabled list.

This may be bad news for third-string catcher Jose Morales, who is the likely loser if, as appears likely, the Twins revert to a 12-pitcher roster with seven relievers.

They've been carrying 11 pitchers for more than a week, partly because they had nicked-up position players and partly because they had the six-game interleague road stretch, which means no DH, which means more need to pinch hit.

(Never mind that National League teams, who typically play without the DH, also typically carry 12 pitchers; every year, Ron Gardenhire wants the extra bat available. for those games.)

Now that stretch is over, and the question arises again: Are the Twins better off using the 25th roster slot on a position player (specifically a third catcher) or a pitcher?

Morales was useful in the interleague games as a pinch-hitter; now his value largely lies in allowing Gardenhire to pinch-run for Mike Redmond in those games in which Joe Mauer is the DH. (Morales is arguably a better player than Redmond right now, but Gardy has been quite emphatic the last few days that Redmond is the No. 2 catcher.)

The value in a seventh reliever would be to spread out the workload. R.A. Dickey on Monday made his third straight appearance; while Gardy is fond of claiming that Dickey can pitch everyday, it's not a good idea to actually do that, knuckleball or no. After getting a week off, Jose Mijares has now pitched three times in four days. Matt Guerrier, who led the AL in appearances last season, is leading again this season.

The problem is that these guys are getting the ball in close situations, in winnable games. Sean Henn can't be trusted — he hasn't had a perfect outing (no baserunners) since June 8. Bobby Keppel had a superficially good debut during the weekend (three walks in four innings isn't encouraging); he hasn't earned key spots yet, and probably never will.

A 12th pitcher is only going to be truly helpful if he's capable of taking some of the workload off the setup men, not the long man or the mopup guy. Of the in-house candidates, that sounds most likely to be Jesse Crain, but he walked five men in his first 5 2/3 innings in Triple A.

He ain't fixed yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment