Thursday, March 23, 2017

The four Twins on Puerto Rico

Paul Molitor was making noises of impatience earlier in the week about getting the four Twins on Team Puerto Rico back into camp. And now that the tournament is over, the Minnesota manager will get his wish.

How did their absence from spring training affect the four? There are, no surprise, four answers.

For Eddie Rosario, the World Baseball Classic had to be a net plus. He played regularly in right field and he impressed with big hits and big throws. He left Fort Myers the presumptive left fielder; he returns the same, only having raised the question in the minds of many: Why is he the left fielder with an arm like that?

For Hector Santiago, it was neither a detriment nor a springboard. He pitched, oddly, exclusively out of the bullpen and fared well, although he did walk a few hitters -- which is Santiago's M.O. It's possible that the Twins would have liked him adding to his pitch count, but he left camp with a rotation berth and he returns with a rotation berth.

For Jose Berrios, it was possibly a minor impediment to his ambitions of making the opening rotation. He pitched twice -- a start against Italy in the first round and a relief outing in the championship game Wednesday night that showed both his impressive talent and his flaws.

That wasn't enough work to help his cause -- but his cause was probably doomed from the start. I doubt that the Twins ever wanted Berrios to open 2017 on the big club. Giving themselves means of filling the rotation without him was part of bringing the now-released Ryan Vogelsong to camp.

For Kennys Vargas, the WBC was unquestionably a problem. He was glued to the P.R. bench, and without playing time and at-bats not only could not make strides toward winning a job with the Twins but couldn't give scouts a chance to see him.  Byungho Park is now the front-runner for the DH job, and Vargas is almost certainly destined for Triple A once again.

For the Twins as a whole, their absences were probably beneficial. Other pitchers got a chance to show their stuff with the starts and innings vacated by Santiago, Berrios and Ervin Santana. The men competing for a reserve outfield job got more at-bats with Rosario gone.

And nobody got hurt, at least as far as we know. Overall, more good than bad for the Twins out of this.

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