Twins Need to Make Moves

2 May

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On Twitter yesterday, I put the over/under on number of transactions that the Twins would make before playing the White Sox on Tuesday at 2.8. Not many listened live to my Sunday Night Minnesota Twins podcast last night due to some non-baseball news that came out about 15 minutes before my show!

It gets harder and harder to discuss the Twins and write the same things every day, but we trudge ahead. So, what moves should be made right away? I still refuse to do any massive overhauls. I still have hopes to see the Twins regular lineup and hopefully soon before doing that. But clearly something needs to happen.

The Twins are currently at 39 players on the 40 man roster. Here are the moves that I would make today:

  1. Option Matt Tolbert to Rochester. Recall Trevor Plouffe. Make Plouffe the starting shortstop for the next month. Make Alexi Casilla the utility infielder for the next month, a role he handled just fine last year. No, I don’t believe Plouffe is a long-term answer, but at this point, what harm does it do to give him an opportunity? I would keep Luke Hughes up because he can play three infield positions and can be a good right-handed bat off the bench. I think that Tolbert and Casilla are pretty much equals. Casilla has much more talent, but Tolbert makes a few less mistakes.
  2. Option Dusty Hughes to Rochester. Add Chuck James to the 40-man roster and promote him to the Twins. James appears to be ready to come back to the big leagues for the first time since 2008. He still profiles as a starter in my mind, but with Glen Perkins and Jose Mijares, James can be a long-man as well.
  3. Option Alex Burnett. Take Kevin Slowey off of the Disabled List. If Slowey is going to be extended in an Extended Spring start, this maybe should not happen until Wednesday or even Thursday. Slowey could work in long-relief or take over a starting spot. I hope Francisco Liriano has a very good start on Tuesday night because I think that if Liriano is removed from the rotation, that pretty much ends hopes for 2011. At that point, lots of changes and transactions might as well happen.
  4. Likewise, Delmon Young is likely to come off of the Disabled List Wednesday or Thursday and at that point, Rene Tosoni will head back to Rochester. Don’t give up on Tosoni… Remember that he has played just 19 games above Double-A, and that he missed 2/3 of the 2010 season with shoulder surgery. He will be a very solid player in the big leagues.
  5. I think a friendly call to the agents of Bengie Molina’s agent, Bobby Crosby’s agent, maybe even Khalil Greene’s agent might be good. Maybe there are other free agents yet to consider. Maybe a call to the Washington Nationals’ GM to ask about Jesus Flores.

I would keep Jim Hoey up here for now, even with his struggles, just because of his fastball. I would stick by the plan to keep Kyle Gibson in Rochester for one more month.

So, what do you think? Who would you trade, and for what in return? You can say that you would trade Player X, Player Y and Player Z, but be sure to say for who (or what type of package). What do you think?


48 Responses to “Twins Need to Make Moves”

  1. Doug Koebernick May 2, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Seth – great post as always. I would agree with you on every point, especially on the need for Liriano to have the good start. If he doesn’t get on track this will be a very long season. I played some pretty mean catcher in my Legion ball days and am sure that I can accidentally get a hit 1 out of every 38 times at bat so maybe I can get signed to a contract.

    If the Twins don’t start winning soon you will be writing about who the Twins get rid of before the trading deadline – I hope we don’t get to that point but if we do I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on that.

    • Jeff Olson May 2, 2011 at 10:56 am #

      That list should contain Kubel, Cuddyer, Thome, Nathan, and maybe Liriano or Delmon. Time to blow it up and try again.

  2. Jeff Olson May 2, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Sounds about right…too bad our wonderful manager didn’t see that Casilla, Tolbert, Butera, Manship, Burnett, and D.Hughes were not major league players BEFORE they all actually failed. So frustrating being a fan of this team.

    • patty May 2, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

      Gardy should option Barnett and Manship should be called back up to the big leagues.

  3. DB May 2, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    I agree with most of the points, but I don’t think you give Plouffe the starting job until your ready to throw the season away. We need to do something to improve SS. Not give a tryout to another AAA infielder.

    Your comment about Liriano is a crucial point. Our bullpen needs Slowey right now. He is probably our best option for a 8th inning righty. If he has to start, our pitching gets that much weaker on both ends of the game. Same goes for Blackburn.

  4. SoCalTwinsfan May 2, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    I don’t think sending Liriano down would end all hopes if the plan is to take the pressure off him and allow him to work on his mechanics in a low-pressure situation. He could go down for a month and get straightened out and be back to give the Twins a lift and dominate the rest of the way. He certainly isn’t helping them right now. James definitely needs to be called up the way he is dominating right now (20/5 K/BB in 14 innings). I doubt the Twins will make a move for a catcher unless Mauer has a setback.

  5. Tom Olson May 2, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    Seth, I agree with your suggested moves. After listening to your podcast last night I think it is time to bring up Danny Lehmann as well. Holm is currently batting .118 and Butera .106. How much more of that can a guy take?

  6. mike wants wins May 2, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    I’d cut Casilla. As long as he is here, some scout that trusts his eyes more than the stats will try to convince our GM that he’s better than the numbers suggest. I’m not sure what else to do there but to give Plouffe the job for the entire year and see what happens.

    I’d cut Butera, but I said that last year and you disagreed with me. He’s awful. One of the worst players in all of MLB. There is no amount of catcher defense that can make up for that bat, even as a backup. Like Casilla, they’ll always be bizarrely tempted to keep him up here as long as he is in their system. I don’t care who he is replaced with, frankly.

    The decisions around SS and catcher have been a disaster, going back last year’s decisions.

    I agree with your pitching suggestions, except for Slowey. I think he should be a starter over Blackburn (as he should have been at the beginning of the year) and Liriano. At some point, maybe over Pavano.

    Dusty Hughes was a mistake from the beginning. Sending him to AAA is fine with me.

    I’m struglling to find a decision this offseason that in retrospect was the right decision (though I agreed with signing Pavano for a “reasonable” number, and in not trading Liriano).

    I’m dropping my prediction to 81 wins, down from 90 at the beginning of the year.They’d have to go 72-63 the rest of the way. Frankly, that seems optimistic right now. That is a season long pace of 87 wins or so….

  7. jjswol May 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    Jesus Flores? He would be a great pick-up if the Twins could get him cheap. A good hitter with decent pop in his bat and he is OK behind the plate. The big problem with Flores is he can’t seem to stay healthy.

  8. TT May 2, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Panic! Its not a pretty sight.

    The truth is Hughes doesn’t play three infield positions. He doesn’t play even one all that well. As long as Cuddyer is playing second, Hughes has no position.

    Kubel and Span are the only Twins hitting over .235. That needs to change, but trying to do that by switching out catchers and middle infielders is kind of silly. The offense needs to come from the corners and DH. Kubel is the only one of those players that is doing anything.

    As for the bullpen. We are seeing what happens when you wear the bullpen down. The Twins will probably option out Burnett again and call Hacker back up. Hopefully the day off will help. But if the starters don’t start pitching deeper into games, the bullpen problems are not going to go away.

    • mike wants wins May 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

      No panic from me, I thought Butera and Casilla should be off the roster last year. There were bad before, and are bad now. This isn’t about panic, this is about getting rid of players that are bad, and have proven in the past to be bad. Heck, I’d cut Casilla even if they were 19-9 right now. He’s just a bad MLB player.

    • mike wants wins May 2, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

      I do agree, as long as cuddeyer is being a bad 2B, Hughes has no position (and, I’m not sure Hughes has a position whether Cuddy is here or not, but we don’t know that yet).

      • TT May 2, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

        Right now it looks like Gardy would rather have Cuddyer at second and Tosoni or Repko in the outfield than Cuddyer in the outfield and Hughes at second.

        Cuddyer is not a good defensive second baseman. It does not appear they think Hughes is an improvement. Although, it may be they just think Repko/Tosoni is a huge improvement over having Cuddyer or Kubel in left.

      • mike wants wins May 2, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

        I agree, I think Gardy thinks Cuddy is a better all around 2B than Hughes. Hard to argue that so far. This is really mostly on Smith and Ryan and the scouts, more than it is on Gardy (though the baserunning and fielding, that has to be partly on Gardy and the coaches).

  9. TT May 2, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    Its apparent the Twins were not ready to play coming out of spring training. They had Morneau, Cuddyer and Mauer, three of their big bats, who spent most of spring training watching instead of playing.

    Since then, they have lost their number two three and five hitters to injury. Thome’s career may be over. Kubel is the only big bat in the lineup who was prepared to pick up the slack.

    They lost Slowey, who was supposed to be a solid arm in the bullpen. Nathan isn’t fully recovered.

    The future success of this team does not depend on any “moves” it makes. It depends on the players who are here already getting healthy and playing up to their ability.

    If that doesn’t happen, then the only option is to start making moves for future seasons. But it is pure panic to suggest that point has been reached just yet.

    • mike wants wins May 2, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

      Casilla is playing up to his ability. That’s where you and I disagree. Cuddy, this may be his ability now. He’s not aging well. Dusty Hughes is playing up to his ability. This is Joe Nathan’s ability this year (at least for several months – that is the history of TJ pitchers). Butera is playing up to his ability. Tolbert is playing up to his ability. This is who these guys are – bad baseball players.

      • TT May 2, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

        The players you list are basically irrelevant when Morneau, Mauer, Young, Pavano, Liriano and virtually everyone else are doing extremely poorly. The only exceptions are Capps, Perkins, Duensing, Baker, Kubel and Span.

        I don’t know what the problem is people are having with Dusty Hughes. He has struggled the last week. So what? The idea of sending him to AAA based on that is pure panic.

      • mike wants wins May 2, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

        The starting SS is irrlevant? You shoudn’t try to fix any problems, because there are other problems? That makes no sense at all.

      • mike wants wins May 2, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

        Dusty Hughes had a 0.0 WAR in 2009, and a .3 WAR last year. This year he has a negative .2 WAR. So, for 2+ years, he is basically replacement level. I’d rather they try out a young player and roll the die on a young player, then use a replacement level veteran. I understand that not all agree with that.

      • TT May 2, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

        “You shoudn’t try to fix any problems, because there are other problems? That makes no sense at all.”

        The shortstop and catcher aren’t the problem. Of course you were convinced Butera and Casilla were lousy and there poor play has confirmed it in your eyes. The rest of the team playing poorly is apparently self-correcting because you thought they would do better. The problem is that you may have been wrong on both counts and you may still be proven wrong.

        You will notice, I am not suggesting they get rid of Valencia. But he has certainly contributed to the Twins slump. And, as a corner infielder, his lack of hitting is a lot bigger problem than Casilla or Butera. Not to mention fielding and base running which frankly aren’t as important as Butera and Casilla’s.

    • Ed Bast May 2, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

      “The future success of this team does not depend on any “moves” it makes.”

      Absolutely disagree. This team as currently constructed has no chance of winning a playoff series. Remember, that was everyone’s goal in spring training. Not good enough to get swept again. Largest payroll in team history. Year 2 of this gleaming new stadium. Not good enough.

      We know, it’s a loveable bunch of guys. It would be really mean to demote/trade/release them. But a lot of these guys are performing their jobs terribly right now. There needs to be a sense of accountability in this organization. By not “shaking things up”, it sends the message that this sort of putrid performance is acceptable. It wouldn’t be acceptable at the office, and it shouldn’t be acceptable on the field.

      • TT May 2, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

        Ed –

        Not good enough for who? Go back to watching football, basketball and hockey where the “second season” is the only one that matters because half the teams and more are going to still be playing. In baseball, the goal is to still be playing in October when there are only 8 teams left. The regular season actually means something.

        If you are so worried about the playoffs, why do you care how the Twins have played the first month of the season?

        “It wouldn’t be acceptable at the office, and it shouldn’t be acceptable on the field.”

        I’m glad I don’t work at your office. That kind of attitude is for losers trying to puff themselves up by pointing fingers at others.

      • Ed Bast May 2, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

        Where to start…not good enough for the fans, who funded this stadium under the premise that the Twins would be able to compete with the big boys…not good enough for the players, such as Pavano, who said before the season that 1st round sweeps are unacceptable…not good enough for the front office, who said before the season that the goal is advancement in the playoffs…not good enough, basically, for those of us who realize a) a market like Minnesota does not have a legitimate shot at a world series year in and year out. b) We are going through a 2-3 year such window where we have the talent, the resources, everything in place to be able to legitimately compete for a World Series. c) This window is closing fast.

        “Why do you care how the Twins have played the first month of the season?”

        You’re not one of those “fans” who think games in April mean less than games in September, are you?

        You don’t work at an office where you are judged based on your performance? Man, I’m glad I don’t work in your office. You must have a lot of dead weight getting in the way of raises, promotions, things like that.

        Anyway, have you backed off your prediction of 110+ wins yet?

      • TT May 2, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

        Ed –

        The “fans” didn’t fund the stadium, the taxpayers did. The Twins owe you nothing for that as a fan and the benefit to the non-fan public from the Twins winning some games in October is pretty limited.

        The games now don’t count at all in October, which apparently is the only criteria for success in yyour estimation. So why watch them. Wait until October and if the Twins are in the playoffs you can complain then.

        As for your office, there are lots of ways to hold people accountable when appropriate. Pointing fingers at every mistake is not what builds a winning organization.

  10. PK May 2, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    I agree it is time to make some moves, but I suspect if any happen today they will only be pitching moves. Dusty Hughes optioned for James makes sense, but I think unlikely. Burnett for Hacker or even Hughes for Hacker also is a possibility. I doubt if Plouffe will be called up quite yet. My guess is the Twins will only be ready to do that when they finally are ready to give up on Casilla. I give it another month to six weeks and then expect he will be designated for assignment. If they lose him as a result, so be it. I’d be very surprised if any team wants him bad enough to agree to a trade, so I expect if he is not picked up on waivers, Rochester gets a guy who appears to love hitting there based on how well he has done there in the past.

  11. Matt May 2, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    The Twins definitely need to bring in a catcher because their cupboard at that position is bare. I’d be OK with Molina, but I’d prefer to look to trade an outfielder or a pitcher for a catcher.

  12. TB May 2, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    I don’t think those moves will result in any change of substance. We need injured players to soon return, our inadequate offense to return to potential, and our inadequate pitching to return to potential. That alone will return us to the top of the division. If a move must be made, only one would really be necessary in that case…trading for a solid ace for our rotation.

  13. mj May 2, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    making some moves would at least show they are TRYING something.

    Drew Butera never deserved to be promoted beyond AA ball.

    He had a .217 career avg in the MINORS!

    Did they really think he had any realistic chance of succeeding in the majors?

    I was always under the impression that players had to earn their spot on a MLB roster.

    With Butera… his spot on the team is an unexplainable gift.

    His BA will drop below .100 on this roadtrip.

  14. Tim S May 2, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    Twins should seriously consider outrighting Joe Nathan to low minors to work on mechanics, command, & confidence. Nathan cannot work thru his issues pitching once or twice a week in low leverage situations up here. Give Kyle Waldrop or Anthony Slama a chance to contribute at the major league level.

  15. Scruffy Rube May 2, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    I like the idea of improving from within, but (and please note that I’m simply posing this as devil’s advocate line of questioning) if trying to improve the bullpen and middle infield from within over the offseason has contributed to our shortfall so far, is there any reason that would change with newer, equally unproven players?
    I don’t have any solid answers, but I appreciate reading the thoughts and opinions of those who do. The team may not be as satisfying to watch, but being a part of Twins Territory keeps me entertained and engaged.

  16. TT May 2, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

    “Anyway, have you backed off your prediction of 110+ wins yet?”

    Looks a bit doubtful doesn’t it…

    • Ed Bast May 3, 2011 at 8:05 am #

      Well looking back it appears I was in an especially cranky mood yesterday – just overly frustrated at my favorite club I suppose. Apologies for that. Anyway I still can’t believe this team isn’t going to turn it around and win the division. Crazy? I don’t know, but this division still seems ripe for the taking. Optimism!

      And Seth, I agree with all of your suggestions for improvement – and would stress the “let’s get a real backup catcher” suggestion too. Given what we (don’t) know about Mauer’s situation this thing could fester for months.

  17. Seth May 2, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

    Finding myself agreeing with 90% of what TT is writing here. What’s going on? Kind of scary!! 🙂

  18. Han Joelo May 3, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    I agree with comments that point to the production of the corner guys/Mauer as being the biggest problem. Scapegoating Casilla won’t fix the team. That said, I’d give Plouffe a shot soon, maybe look into a guy like Jack Wilson.

    I do agree with calling up Molina. He’s a proven veteran that may just provide a spark on offense and a little confidence in the pitching staff. As a pitcher, when you see the guys you were pitching BP to in spring training, well, you maybe regress to throwing like its BP.

    • mike wants wins May 3, 2011 at 8:35 am #

      No one (I don’t think) is saying that the only problems are Casilla and Butera. No one is saying that Casilla is the biggest problem. But, you can’t fix the Mauer problem. You aren’t going to cut Morneau. You have to wait for Young to get healthy. OF THE MOVES YOU CAN MAKE right now, replacing Casilla is one of them. He’s also an everyday player, so there is an effect. Of course replacing Casilla with an average or slightly below average SS does not make this team all better.

      But playing with a SS that is AWFUL in over 1000 plate appearances, that just doesn’t make sense, no matter how good or bad the rest of the team is. I’m not sure I understand how standing pat with a horrible player, just because the other players are good to great makes any sense at all. You should always be trying to make every position better (within the constraints of your budget and roster space).

      • TT May 3, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

        “playing with a SS that is AWFUL in over 1000 plate appearances”

        Who are you talking about? It certainly isn’t Casilla. In 2008, he hit .281/.333/.374 in 487 plate appearances. In 2010, he hit .276/.331/.395 in 170 plate appearances. Is there some reason we should “wait for” Young to hit like last year and not Casilla?

        You apparently have repeated that assertion so many times you actually believe it. It isn’t true. Casilla had a bad year in 2009 and he is struggling now. But He has also hit successfully in the past, including last year when he hit better than Hardy did.

      • USAFChief May 3, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

        “Who are you talking about? It certainly isn’t Casilla. In 2008, he hit .281/.333/.374 in 487 plate appearances. In 2010, he hit .276/.331/.395 in 170 plate appearances.”

        And from 2006-2011 he ‘hit’ .246/.303/.324. With the added bonus of shoddy defense and bad baseball instincts.

        This is too easy.

      • TT May 3, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

        “And from 2006-2011 he ‘hit’ .246/.303/.324. ”

        Right. I agree. Casilla was a lousy hitter in 2006-7. So what? Hardy was a better hitter than Casilla in 2006-7. He wasn’t last year. And people who evaluate 26 year old players based on how they played four and five years ago shouldn’t criticize anyone’s “baseball instincts”.

        The fact is Casilla HAS been inconsistent. But that isn’t really that unusual in young players. Sometimes they work through it, sometimes they don’t.

        But it is hardly bad judgment for the Twins to rely on last year’s performance rather than how he played four years ago.

      • USAFChief May 4, 2011 at 7:08 am #

        “But it is hardly bad judgment for the Twins to rely on last year’s performance rather than how he played four years ago.”

        Then why did you bring up 2008?

        And just for the record, Casilla did not have 487 PAs in 2008, as you claimed.

  19. Jack Steal May 3, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    I am absolutey shocked right now that the Twins front office has not made any roster moves. There is no way you can blame manager Ron Gardenhire for this mess. Did I just say that out loud. Well, I am being very honest with you that this is all GM Bill Smith’s fault. Pretty tough to blame the players for their disasterous play on the field. Casilla has no business being a starter, Dusty Hughes was a bad waiver claim, Jim Hoey was part of a bad trade, four unproven arms in the bullpen.

    • mike wants wins May 3, 2011 at 10:01 am #

      It’s largely Terry Ryan and scout’s fault. The minor league system is mostly built on players pre-Smith.

      Now, the roster decisions about trades and who is up amongst the choices, that is all on Smith.

      • Kunza May 3, 2011 at 10:22 am #

        And Gardenhire. I don’t think it’s a secret of Gardenhire’s love and hate relationship with players. Gardenhire forced the hand of Bill Smith with Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza, JJ Hardy, Orlando Hudson, Orlando Cabrera, Nick Punto and others. If you didn’t fit what Gardenhire wanted, you were gone.

  20. R Hobbs May 3, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    “Buty” is in the Show for one reason; he is one of Gardy’s boys (see my rant last week). If Mauer is healthy though it is irrelevant. Plouffe is about as much of a major league shortstop as Cuddyer is a major league second baseman. To elevate him to an everyday player is just raising the white flag. Cuddy is at second because we have picked our utility players poorly too. Tolbert and Hughes are apparently a part of Gardy’s gin rummy club as well.

    The Mets are going to lose $70mm this year and Jose Reyes is a free agent. Anyone who thinks he is not available thinks Gardy has a steely dispassionate eye for talent.

    • mike wants wins May 3, 2011 at 10:35 am #

      I don’t see how Mauer being healthy makes having the worst hitter in all of baseball on the roster irrelevant. He just should not be in the majors, even 20 games is too many for him to play.

      I don’t know if Gardy forced all those guys out. I think the payroll had something to do with Hardy and Hudson, but I could be wrong on that. We just don’t know.

    • gobbledy May 3, 2011 at 11:05 am #

      you see the hair reyes has? ever see a twin look like that? not the twins kind of look!

  21. Drew May 3, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    If this season continue at this pace I say gut the team. I’ve never liked an outfield of Span Cuddy and Young, nor have I ever been truely sold on Kubel. If you could get a nice young SS/power pitching prospect who could contribute in 2014 I’d take it for any/all of them. I don’t think this is the team that will bring a championship to target field, but with an outfield of Benson, Revere/Hicks, Arcia by 2014 coupled with Valencia, an acquired SS, Yoshi, Mourneau and Mauer you have a chance, especially if you can get one power pitching starter paired with Gibson, most likely Wimmers and a few of the other prospects and select two fast moving college pitchers in the 1st rounds the next two years like the Twins obviously like to do. I’d be more likely to bet on 2014 than any season before it.

  22. toby May 3, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    Agree with your moves, Seth.

    Plouffe: He is not a future all-star. But he’s going great this year on the back of an ISO surge of a type (if not sustainable degree) not unheard of for an age 24/25 season (following a moderate increase last year).

    If he can ISO .200 in MLB (which I believe he now has a significant chance to do) and play reasonable, good-arm but on a whole below-average shortstop defense, he is a MASSIVE upgrade vs. Casilla’s likely future output (which to be fair to Casilla is better than his 2011 output to date).

    What he absolutely will NOT do is fit into the red-faced buffoon’s myopic idee fixe of what a shortstop “should” be (see fate of Hardy, JJ), and unless Bill Smith for once in his life has the guts to issue a “play him” edict to his field managing subordinate, one cold streak/adjustment period/bad error will consign him to the bench. If that happens, they share the blame.

    Dusty Hughes: his signing on the basis of a handful of PAs against Twins lefties alone (and in the face of every other piece of data available, statistical and otherwise) was all the evidence needed to successfully prosecute an indictment of the Twins Way re: MLB player evaluation. The guy’s a flat-out crappy pitcher who’d probably have to drop down to AA to dominate long-term. James appears to be back, so you make the switch. Or some other switch. But you bail on Mr. Hughes, absolutely.

    Butera: MLB now has a book on how to pitch Butera, and we’re seeing the results. It’s possible his true hitting talent at this point is a sub. 200 (yes TWO hundred) wOBA: off the charts, unspeakably bad. He could never, ever allow a passed ball or wild pitch and lead the league in CS% and still not be a viable MLB backup. Cut him now. Thank god they get to pay Capps $7 mil, though, right? Totally worth Wilson Ramos.

    Luke Hughes: I believe his hitting talent is at least Cuddyer’s equal at present. (That sentence is equal parts Hughes endorsement/Cuddyer critique.) He’s competently below average in the field at second base, as opposed to the sad joke that is the dimpled Clubhouse Leader. He should be starting at second base. Cuddyer should never be allowed near the infield save in an emergency. Again, it would probably take a B.S. dictat to force Gardenhire’s hand, and given that that won’t happen, I’m happy to again blame them both for the ongoing Cuddyer-at-second mess.

    Liriano: If Liriano’s next start is a disaster, they MUST figure out whether the drastic shift in his release point from last year (see Hageman’s [sp?] stuff) is mechanical or injury related. If it’s mechanical, they need to claim injury and send him to Florida or whatever to get his release point back down where it belongs. Unfortunately, I have no confidence in the Twins coaching staff’s ability to do so.

    Valencia: I cannot overemphasize how NOT worried about his offense I am. Anecdotally, I’ve seen him smoke a whole bunch of balls for outs this year. Statistics back it up: his K/BB % have BOTH improved (BB: 10.4%, K: 13.7%: that’s freakin’ GREAT) and his BABIP is only .225 despite a spiffy line drive percentage of 20.7%. His hitting is fine. His defense, OTOH, has looked nothing like last year’s. On balance, though, he is fine.

  23. mj May 3, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    you’re being generous, and diplomatic regarding Butera.

    MLB now has a book on how to pitch to him? That’s something that might apply to a case like Valencia, a .311 to .211 drop in avg.

    Butera couldn’t hit in the minors… he couldn’t hit in the majors last year… and he can’t hit in the majors this year. And he never will.

    the book on him is “throw strikes, and he’ll go 0 – 4 every day.”

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