Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Baker Down, Tiffee Up

As I suggested would happen in the last post, the Twins today sent down struggling starting pitcher Scott Baker. I discussed my feelings on this in the last post, and so am going to focus instead on the second half of this transaction.

I indicated last night that if the Twins made a move, it would probably involve calling up Pat Neshek to be a twelfth pitcher. The Star Tribune apparantly thought that Shawn Wooten, a Catcher/First Baseman who would have allowed Ron Gardenhire to rest a little more easily when using Joe Mauer as a DH and Mike Redmond as a catcher, would get the call. Instead, the Twins went with Tiffee, restoring the roster to the more traditional (for the Twins) 14 position players and 11 pitchers.

Of the three players involved, Neshek is having by far the best year. That said, from the standpoint of bench flexibility, I prefer a 14/11 split to a 13/12 split, and so am glad that the Twins chose to call up a position player. That being said, I'm also quite glad that the Twins chose Tiffee over Wooten.

My primary reason is that I can't stand the logic behind carrying 3 catchers. Once every 3 or 4 days, Ron Gardenhire likes to give Joe Mauer a day off from catching, while keeping his bat in the lineup. As a result, he uses Mauer as the DH and gives Mike Redmond the start behind the plate. If an injury were to occur to Redmond, Mauer would have to move behind the plate and the Twins would lose the DH for the remainder of the game. Hence, Gardenhire would like a third catcher on the roster.

Ummmm...what? You want to carry a player on the roster who essentially serves no purpose other than to make you feel better once every 3 or 4 days? When, exactly, is this catcher going to play? Frankly, he isn't going to take any playing time away from Mauer, who is having an All-Star season; I also don't want him taking playing time away from Redmond, who is hitting around .420 and calls a solid game. Yes, IF an injury were to happen, it would be inconvenient for a game, and the team would be at a disadvantage. But, (1) it wouldn't mean the game was automatically lost, and (2) whatever DID happen would only affect one game, since a catcher could be called up in time for the game the next day. So, carrying a third catcher is, simply, a complete waste of a roster spot.

It looks as if Terry Ryan agrees with me, and that eliminated Wooten (who, to top it off, is hitting .218 for Rochester this season) from consideration for a call-up. Tiffee and Bartlett were probably the options that were seriously considered. It should come as no surprise that Tiffee got the nod, with his ability to play 1B (a position where the Twins currently have no actual back-up) and 3B (a position where Tony Batista seems to be on the edge of losing his job). Bartlett would have just served to take time away from Juan Castro and Nick Punto at SS, and they've been ok if not spectacular.

And so, now the real question is, who will be sent down when Shannon Stewart is called up? The biggest beneficiary of today's move, other than Tiffee, is probably Jason Kubel. If he can play reasonably well over the next 7-10 days (until Stewart is ready to come back), then he'll probably keep his roster spot. Tiffee and Luis Rodriguez seem to be the candidates for demotion when Stewart is ready. And, one can't discount the suggestion of Patrick Reusse in his article today that Rondell White's time with the team may be limited as well, if he can't get it going soon. My guess: Luis Rodriguez will find himself in Rochester in less than two weeks.


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