Thursday, May 10, 2012

Shake it up

Wednesday's game followed an all-too-familiar pattern for the Twins: The starting pitcher (in this case Carl Pavano) gave up multiple runs early, the bullpen did a decent job (one run allowed in five innings), the hitters got some men on base but failed to fully capitalize on the opportunities, and the Twins lost.


P.J. Walters inherits
Francisco Liriano's
slot in the starting
What came after the game wasn't the same old, same old. Some significant moves were made — both in terms of roster and roles. Let's sort through the carnage:

Pitching: Francisco Liriano to the bullpen, P.J. Walters brought up to start on Saturday, Matt Maloney designated for assignment.

The attempt to reset Liriano by skipping a start didn't work, and so the next step is taken.

Liriano figures to get low-leverage innings — long relief and mop-up chores. Which is basically what Maloney was doing. Maloney's minor league stats intrigued me from the day the Twins claimed him on waivers from Cincinnati, but he didn't pitch anywhere near well enough to keep his job, much less find an expanded role.

Walters is a right-hander who has gotten 51 major league innings, mostly with St. Louis, and was signed as a minor-league free agent with more of an eye on improving the Rochester staff than the major league staff. He's done pretty well in Rochester (3-1, 2.70), so he got the call. I'm not sure he's any better than Anthony Swarzak.

Darin Mastroianni
got into one game
for the Blue Jays
in 2011, going 0-for-3.
Position players: Danny Valencia optioned to Rochester, Darin Mastroianni called up.

Valencia was 0-for-May. His slugging percentage had fallen below .300. And his defense at third is still nothing to hang his hat on.

Mastroianni is yet another fourth-outfielder type — runs well enough to play center, throws well enough to play right, doesn't have enough thump to be a regular.  He was hitting .365 in Rochester with 10 steals. He's played a little at second base, but I doubt he's proficient at it.

One of the beat writers said on Twitter that Alexi Casilla, Jamey Carroll and Trevor Plouffe would split time at third base. I think it's more likely that Carroll will play second and Casilla will get the bulk of the time at third. In a sense, this replicates the 2006 infield configuration after the Twins axed Juan Castro and Tony Batista: Luis Castillo at second, Nick Punto at third and the rookie Jason Bartlett at short.

Mastroianni may platoon with Erik Komatsu in right field, at least until Justin Morneau returns from the disabled list and forces Ryan Doumit out of regular DH duties.

If Valencia's job wasn't safe, Plouffe's can't be either.

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