Friday, December 6, 2013

Phil Hughes in, Liam Hendriks out

Phil Hughes wore 65 with the Yankees, but with the
Twins he'll take number 45 off Scott Ullger's back.
Phil Hughes' contract was finalized Thursday, which meant that the Twins had to clear room on the 40-man roster.

The move: Liam Hendriks was designated for assignment.

It seemed the obvious move to me; I had predicted it Monday. But my Twitter feed had a brief eruption from people -- notably Twins prospect guru Seth Stohs -- unhappy that Hendriks was targeted.

Here's the thing, though: Hendriks simply hasn't been good at major league baseball.

Thirty MLB games, 28 starts, 156 innings -- and a 2-13 record with a 6.06 ERA.

I've been critical the past two years of the Twins' handling of Hendriks. I've argued that they were too impatient, especially in 2012, when he dominated the International League in between sporadic opportunities in the American League. I've noted, repeatedly, that many pitchers -- even some great ones, such as Greg Maddux -- struggled to find their way in their first season in a rotation. (I call it the Rule of 30 -- that one should judge a pitcher's stats on what he does after 30 major league starts.)

Even now, Hendriks hasn't gotten to 30 starts. I think it's possible that the Aussie will eventually emerge as a competent back-of-the rotation starter.

But that's the ceiling: A fourth or fifth guy. And the Twins have other arms who have come closer to achieving that status than Hendriks has -- Vance Worley, Scott Diamond, Sam Deduno, Andrew Albers. In that crowd, Hendriks was surplus inventory.

Mike Bernadino of the Pioneer Press figured Hendriks' future might be in the bullpen. Well, again, the Twins have no shortage of arms for that role. Hendriks might be a good long man, but the Twins have Anthony Swarzak already.

The Twins have 40 on the roster. If they're to play in the Rule 5 draft next week, and they almost always do, they'll need to clear another player off the deck.

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