You wouldn’t believe how long it took me to think up that horrible pun in the title, and it’s not even funny. Then again, it’s not as if the bullpen performances by Luis Ayala for the Twins this season have been full of mirth and glee.
In a not particularly surprising turn of events, Minnesota designated relief pitcher Luis Ayala for assignment. I’m not sure what kind of assignment exactly. Maybe a “learn how to throw a pitch” assignment. OK, I’m being mean now, because admittedly, if you put me up there, I’d barely be able to chuck it 10 feet, but then again, I don’t get paid $1,300,000 to do my job.
In his place, the Twins called up one Bobby Keppel from Triple-A Rochester. I don’t know much about Bobby Keppel, but I am glad to see the Twins making an effort to do something about the struggling bullpen, especially as the AL Central is still wide open, and Minnesota has as much chance as anyone of winning it.
As I’ve probably mentioned numerous times before, I feel less aggrieved (though, of course, not exactly delighted) when a younger, inexperienced pitcher makes the odd
mistake or gives up a lead as it’s usually a learning experience for
them. What irks me more is when supposedly ‘experienced’ hands (who
the Twins pay millions for) come out onto the mound and throw like
Good luck Bobby, you’re gonna need it. Sean Henn? Better watch your back, dude.
On this off-day for the Twins, I don’t have much to say, but I’ve read some interesting blog postings and articles lately and wanted to link to them here.
Firstly, Tim Kurkjian in ESPN Magazine has written a really nice article about Michael Cuddyer and the character he brings to the Minnesota Twins organization.
Next up, I’m not too savvy when it comes to graphs and stats, but I thought this article from the Tenth Inning Stretch blog was an interesting look at how costly Minnesota’s “small ball” game might be.
I thought Nick’s blog posting about why the Twins insist on playing Delmon Young was insightful, but perhaps a little too much ‘conspiracy theory’. It turns out Aaron Gleeman has some similar thoughts about the Carlos Gomez v Delmon Young situation.
This one provided me with a much needed laugh this morning.
Finally, I’m not sure how this one passed me by, but I’m thinking the Cincinnati mayor might be a good choice for the Twins bullpen…
I’m having a hard time understanding this ‘magical’ 100 pitch count that managers seem to insist upon. Nick Blackburn had pitched a great game, and the Twins had a 2-0 lead, but in the eighth inning the bullpen came in and royally screwed it up. I won’t waste everyone’s time again explaining what happened, but it was certainly ugly.
Sure, the Twins had secured a series win, but they were pretty much set for a sweep, and I’m positive Blackburn could easily have thrown a few more pitches. If Minnesota lose the division race by a single game this year, it’s going to be decisions like this that will haunt them.
Trouble is though, the Twins will have difficulty remaining competitive throughout this long season, unless they sort out their pitiful bullpen, or Ron Gardenhire begins to allow his starting rotation an extra inning or two, especially when they’re ahead.
Then again, last Sunday, Gardy could be criticized for not taking Scott Baker out soon enough. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t… who’d be a manager, eh?
As expected, struggling switch-hitter Alexi Casilla has been sent down to Triple-A Rochester, while infielder Matt Tolbert has been recalled. I think Gardy gave Alexi enough chances to prove himself, but apart from his poor batting (.167 in 24 games), he’d also been having problems defensively, and is evidently lacking the confidence required to play with the big boys. I feel bad for poor Alexi, but he had it coming unfortunately.
Brendan Harris will probably be back in the line-up, batting in the second spot, especially against right-handers, but I’m also hoping Carlos Gomez gets a few more opportunities to prove himself too.
Sadly, I don’t think this will be the last roster move the Twins will make this season. Unless things really pick up for Minnesota over the coming weeks, I’d expect a few pitching changes unless the struggling bullpen redeems itself. Of course, the capabilities of the bullpen depend so much on the offense being hot and starting pitching being solid, but right now, there may be a need for future roster changes if the bullpen can’t pull its weight.