Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Ryan LaMarre and the opening roster

The Twins played their final exhibition of 2018 on Tuesday, beating the Washington Nationals in D.C. Of more importance, they set -- presumably -- their roster for opening day on Thursday.

Phil Hughes went on the disabled list with his strained oblique. This allowed both Gabriel Moya and Rule 5 pick Tyler Kinley to make the roster. There seems to be some skepticism on Twins twitter about the validity of Hughes' injury, in no small part because he's sidelined for a period in which the Twins don't need a fifth starter. I'll deploy my skepticism for people who assume that an athlete is faking an injury.

Anyway, that was one of the final decisions. Another, as noted here Monday, wasn't much of a decision. Kennys Vargas was indeed put back of waivers as soon as the Twins reclaimed him. This time he cleared, and the Twins outrighted him to Triple A. This isn't good for Vargas, who would probably benefit from a new organization, but there are 30 big-league teams and none of them want to use a 25-man roster spot on him.

The final decision may not be fully decided. The Twins optioned out Zack Granite, which presumably means Ryan LaMarre will be on the 25-man roster as a reserve outfielder.

"Presumably" because

  • the Twins haven't officially put him on the 40-man and 25-man rosters and
  • they are presumably aware that the Los Angeles Dodgers designated Trayce Thompson for assignment on Tuesday, and there may well be other right-handed hitting outfielders available this week.
LaMarre, 29, had a great spring training; he hit .475/.500/.775 and looked good at all three outfield positions. There is nothing more he could have done in Florida to win a roster spot.

The problem for LaMarre is his track record. Not so much his .054 career major league batting average; that's only 40 plate appearances and is meaningless. Nobody's as good as his spring training stats, and nobody's as bad as his major league numbers.

It's what he's shown in the upper minors in a variety of organizations. LaMarre has more than 950 PA in Triple A and has compiled an OPS at that level of .723, which isn't that impressive.

LaMarre hits right-handed, and as I've been noting all spring, that fits the Twins' specific roster needs better than the lefty bat of Granite. But Granite is the better player; if the Twins should need somebody to play everyday for a couple weeks or more, Granite is a better choice. LaMarre makes the team for a specific role -- if he indeed makes the team. That has yet to fully play out.

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