Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Recent Transaction Thoughts

In what may be an impending sign of the apocalypse, the Twins were forced to purchase the contract of veteran Howie Clark from Rochester yesterday after Matt Tolbert went on the 15-day DL with a torn left thumb ligament. As La Velle Neal put it in his Strib column, "the pickings [in Rochester] were slim" since Alexi Casilla was already up and Matt Macri is on the minor league DL.

I don't completely disagree with La Velle -- the pickings are indeed slim in the Rochester infield -- but I think that, for the reasons I've mentioned previously, the Twins didn't necessarily need a middle infielder. Brian Buscher could have been called up if the Twins had decided to go in that direction. I don't think that Clark gives them all that much more flexibility than Busher would have. Tolbert, of course, is flexible enough to play 2B, 3B, or SS as needed. Clark is pretty much a 2B/3B guy, while Buscher is known more as a 1B/3B. With Alexi Casilla on the roster and able to play 2B or SS as needed, however, I wouldn't be all that worried about having yet another 2B on the team.

Clark is a perfectly serviceable minor league backup, I suppose -- he's a career .262 big league hitter -- so I probably shouldn't complain so much. Buscher, after all, isn't a major prospect who is somehow being harmed by spending time in the minors. I'm just not all that excited about the possibility of a Mike Lamb/Adam Everett/Howie Clark infield. That said, I hope he performs well while he's with the team, and until Tolbert knows the extent of his injury, who knows how long that will be?

Finally, La Velle also noted that the Twins recently claimed Sergio Santos off waivers from the Blue Jays. My first reaction is "why," and my second reaction is "holy crap, the roster is back to 40 guys!". As to the "why," Santos is a career .249 hitter in the minor leagues, and I'm not so sure he's ever going to improve on that. He also doesn't appear to have any real speed -- he's been getting about 2 steals in 400+ AB's the last few years -- so he's not an asset there. His fielding percentages don't appear to be all that outstanding, but I'm sure many of you are aware of how difficult it is to actually measure fielding, so I'll leave that one alone. This just seems like a perplexing waiver claim, on par with the claim of Chris Basak from the Yankees last year. While Basak is still in the organization, he's playing poorly in Rochester and is unlikely ever to really contribute. It seems the Twins higher-ups are of the opinion that the team is lacking infield depth, and is grabbing players like Santos to try to remedy that. It should also be noted (for those of you who care) that this is Santos' third option year. He was originally added to the D'Backs 40-man roster in November 2005, and was then traded to the Blue Jays in December of that year. He has subsequently been optioned in 2006, 2007, and 2008.

As to the roster, it's been a bit surprising that the Twins have gone for weeks with just 38 guys on the 40-man roster. That is no longer the case, with Clark and Santos being added. As has been pointed out elsewhere, however, that doesn't mean the Twins don't have some flexibility if needed -- Pat Neshek can be placed on the 60-Day DL whenever (and if ever) the team needs to open up another roster spot.

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