Friday, March 31, 2017

Park banged

13 pitchers and what do you get?

Not, to the apparent surprise and consternation of those around Twins training camp, ByungHo Park:

A few thoughts from one who would have kept Park:

* If the Twins are opening with a 13-man pitching staff, they're almost certain to maintain a 13-man pitching staff all season.

* We probably should have seen a 13-man staff coming. On Wednesday Ervin Santana, the obvious opening day starter, couldn't get through five innings. Hector Santiago, who starts today against the Triple A squad, has all of 13 Grapefruit League innings. The post-surgical Phil Hughes has struggled more than impressed this month. And the Twins have few off-days in their early April schedule.

Bottom line: The Twins right now can't expect that their starters are going to eat innings.

* That said, there was an obvious alternative to sending Park to Triple A: dumping Danny Santana.

Park may be a one-tool player, but that tool -- power -- plays. Santana does nothing well enough to put him in the game to do it.

Park isn't on the 40-man roster, and Santana is out of options, so doing it this way keeps both in the organization. But I don't see a lot of value in keeping Santana around. He's third-string everywhere.

* A co-worker was jeering Thursday evening at the notion of Robbie Grossman as the base DH. It's not as ridiculous as Grossman's play in left field as 2016 wound down, and it's what I expected to emerge when spring training opened.

Grossman lacks Park's power, but he does get on base, and that was a significant failing in the Twins lineup last season.

* This does leave the lineup vulnerable to left-handed pitching, with no significant right-handed alternative to Joe Mauer, Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler, each of whom struggled against southpaws last season. Two of them were going to play against lefties even with Park around; now all three will. And if Paul Molitor is as reluctant to platoon Jason Castro as I suspect he will be, that will make four exploitable lineup spots for lefties.

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