January 6, 2006
J.C. Romero being traded to Los Angeles and Mulholland officially exiting leaves the Twins without an established left-handed pitcher in the bullpen. I don't really think having a lefty reliever is absolutely necessary (the Angels in recent years being a good example), but my guess is that the Twins do. At this point it looks like the job will be between Dennys Reyes and Gabe White, who have both signed minor-league contracts with the Twins that include invites to spring training.
Neither player excites me much. Reyes has pretty good raw stuff, but he's 29 years old and has never really been able to consistently throw strikes. He has a career ERA of 4.80 and posted a 5.15 ERA and 35-to-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio while pitching in pitcher-friendly San Diego this year. Meanwhile, White is a strike-throwing machine, but he is also an extreme fly-ball pitcher who gives up an extraordinary number of homers.
I have little doubt that either guy could do a passable job as a true LOOGY, but Ron Gardenhire has shown no indication that he will use someone in that role. Romero faced a ton of right-handed hitters during his time in Minnesota, and while Mulholland surprisingly shut down lefties in 2005, he faced enough righties for it to cancel out. Not messing around with relievers who face only one batter at a time is generally a positive thing for a manager, but the problem is that if Reyes and White are used in the same way they will struggle.
I like how Gardenhire runs a bullpen, but the team's apparent commitment to carrying a lefty at all costs goes against his style. A smart manager will take a good righty over a mediocre lefty just about every time, and the Twins have the correct assortment of right-handed arms in their system to make that work. Rather than mess around with guys like Reyes or White, who might be decent in defined roles but probably won't even be used that way, I'd rather they filled the back of the bullpen with guys like Willie Eyre or Boof Bonser.
Restovich has hit .254/.333/.408 in 127 career games, including .281/.336/.467 against left-handed pitching. The amusing thing about him signing with Chicago is that he could hypothetically end up platooning with Jacque Jones, which is the role I kept hoping for him to take over while with the Twins. Of course, that would assume that Dusty Baker believes any more in platooning than Gardenhire did, which is pretty doubtful.
Of course, as anyone who has read the Minneapolis Star Tribune for any length of time knows all too well, Hartman saying something makes it no more likely to come true than, say, the lottery numbers that can be found within a fortune cookie leading to millions.
Nothing will happen as far as Corey Koskie coming back to the Twins until spring training, according to a person who knows what is going on. At that time, if Toronto hasn't dealt Koskie, look for Twins owner Carl Pohlad to go out of his way to get Koskie back here if Toronto will pick up a good share of that big contract.
UPDATE: Koskie has been traded to the Brewers. I'll have more on this Monday. Probably.
Pick of the Day (161-143, +$1,555):
Houston +2 (-110) over Toronto
Washington +2.5 (-110) over Tampa Bay