Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bonser Down - Neshek Up?

News tonight that the Twins have optioned Boof Bonser to AAA Rochester, with a decision to come tomorrow or early Thursday on who will be called up to take his place.

This isn't completely surprising considering that in Bonser's last couple of starts he's been on a short leash. While he had an excellent start about a week ago, his start yesterday and two starts ago were both just over 3 innings long, with the Twins going to Kyle Lohse to relieve the struggling Bonser both times.

The justification for sending Bonser down is that the Twins won't need a fifth starter until July 17, and the Twins would like to see him get a chance to pitch on a more regular basis. This makes sense to me. I'm also encouraged to hear that the Twins won't be giving the fifth starter job back to Kyle Lohse, who is clearly done with the team. Ron Gardenhire said that he "likes Lohse right where he's at," and that some of the younger guys will get a chance to compete for the job. That means, essentially, that Bonser and Baker will be in an open competition for the next 12 days to determine who will get recalled. My money is on Baker, but we shall see.

As for the immediate roster vacancy, it sounds like the Twins are finally going to call up Pat Neshek, the right-handed sidearmer who has been having an amazing season in AAA. While that would deprive the International League of it's number one All-Star vote getter, it would be a positive development for the Twins. I've been waiting to see how Neshek can do at the Major League level since spring training, and now the opportunity might be here.

This would be a good move for another reason: with Kyle Lohse likely to be traded soon before the deadline, the Twins will need someone to fill that roster spot. With Matt Guerrier improving every day, he might be able to return to the roster by the end of July. If he does, however, it would be better for him to replace Willie Eyre, who has struggled and will likely be sent down. That would let Neshek fill the vacancy created by Lohse. I suspect that this is how things will play out.

Finally, news that Rondell White's return might not be as imminent as it sounded like when he was sent down on the "rehab assignment." The Twins are now saying that they are unsure of when he'll be returning, instead of having him scheduled for a return right after the All-Star break. I suspect this is a stalling tactic until they figure out how best to part with Rondell. I would be very surprised if he put on a Twins uniform again this year.

UPDATE: Directly contradicting the article on the Twins official site, this Star Tribune article suggests that Kyle Lohse is the Twins' first choice to return to the rotation. If that's the case, I ask only "Why?" I agree with Gardenhire's comments that it makes more sense to give a young guy the chance to pitch in the rotation rather than turn it back to Lohse. And if the idea is to "showcase" Lohse to set up a trade, I submit that would backfire. Lohse has not shown any ability to start this year. Putting him in the rotation will only drive that point home to any potential buyers, and I imagine there already are very few of those. It's interesting that there are two completely different conclusions here. I'm hoping that the Trib just didn't dig deeply enough.


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