Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hello, Cotts

The Twins announced after Friday's win that they had acquired left-handed reliever Neal Cotts from Milwaukee for the always popular player to be named or cash. My guess is that it will be cash.

Cotts is a 35-year-old LOOGY who's bounced around the majors on and off since 2003 and a key component in the bullpen of the 2005 World Series champion White Sox. He had a three year gap, 2010-12, in his major league service; he's had better walk and strikeout rates since his return. Lefties this year are hitting .185 (OPS .576) against him; righties are hitting .284 (OPS .847). Like I said, LOOGY -- Left-handed One-Out GuY.

Cotts is a free agent after this season, so there's no commitment beyond this year.

The Twins had an open slot on their 40-man roster, they returned A.J Achter to Rochester to make room on the active roster. That surprised me a little, not that Achter had a significant role, but my initial expectation was that it would be Ryan O'Roarke who got dropped. He and Cotts are essentially limited to the same role. You don't want to have either face a right-handed hitter that matters. Two of them is at least one too many. That second LOOGY seldom gets the ball in important situations, and O'Roarke has pitched with only one lead since coming up about six weeks ago.

So .. does Cotts supplant Brian Duensing as the primary lefty specialist? Probably. Duensing has actually had reverse splits this season (lefties are hitting about a hundred points higher). That certainly doesn't fit his career profile and doesn't involve enough at-bats to be predictive of future results, but managers have made these decisions on less evidence before.

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