Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The roster shuffle

As expected, the Twins made several moves Monday, but not all the moves they intended.

Pitcher Alex Meyer was recalled to add some depth to the bullpen, which was hard-used in Sunday's 16-inning affair. (And on Monday night, even though Tommy Milone didn't get through the fifth inning, Paul Molitor was unwilling to use Meyer. He instead ran through Trevor May, Fernando Abad, Ryan Pressly and Kevin Jepsen.)

Utility man Danny Santana was brought off the disabled list; he started in center field, hit ninth, went 1-for-3 and had no misadventures in the field.

Demoted were the two best center fielders on the roster, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler. The outfielding chores will presumably be split up among Miguel Sano, Santana, Oswaldo Arcia and Eddie Rosario, with Santana and Rosario being the center field options.

This is probably the best offensive group of four outfielders the Twins can concoct out of their 40-man roster, and pretty close to the weakest defensively (Adam Brett Walker is on the 40). Any outfield with Sano and Arcia in the corners does the pitching staff no favors. Buxton has been overmatched in a majority of his at-bats, and Kepler has barely played since spring training, so there is a good argument for their demotions; I still prefer having one of them in center on a regular basis.

But at least David Murphy partially spared the Twins from themselves. The day after the Twins lost catcher John Hicks on waivers -- a move Terry Ryan said Monday was made to clear a roster spot for Murphy -- the veteran decided he would rather go home to his family, and the Twins released him Monday.

I wouldn't trade a 26-year-old optionable catcher for Murphy, but the Twins handed Hicks over to the Tigers in order to activate him. Now they have neither Hicks nor Murphy.

At least the roster isn't cluttered with a 34-year-old fading corner outfielder. If the Twins aren't going to give at-bats to Buxton and Kepler, they should at least give them to Arcia and Rosario; they might amount to something.

More moves should be expected soon. The Twins have 14 pitchers active and just 11 position players. Monday's bench was Rosario and John Ryan Murphy. That's not a sustainable situation.

But ... they can't send down Tyler Duffey (bruised right shoulder) until he's cleared to pitch, and they don't want to put him on the DL. They don't want to put Ervin Santana on the DL either. And apparently they don't want to waive Michael Tonkin (out of options), even though he has a much better chance to clear waivers than Hicks did, and they are loathe to punish Ryan O'Rourke for his impressive outing Sunday by kicking him to Rochester. They have individual reasons not to make a move with any of those four, and an overall reason why they must with at least one of them.

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