June 25, 2010

Twins send Brendan Harris down to Triple-A and call up Jason Repko

This winter the Twins signed Brendan Harris to a head-scratcher of a two-year contract, oddly committing $3.2 million and multiple seasons to a thoroughly replaceable 29-year-old bench player with a substandard glove and .267/.324/.396 career hitting line. Yesterday they passed Harris through waivers unclaimed, removed him from the 40-man roster, and demoted him to Triple-A, calling up outfielder Jason Repko from Rochester to replace him.

Repko is the same age as Harris and is no great shakes himself, hitting just .226/.297/.371 in 478 trips to the plate spread over various stints with the Dodgers. However, most of that poor production came when he was a 24-year-old rookie in 2005 and Repko has hit .289/.357/.461 in 382 games at Triple-A. He's a decent enough right-handed bat to warrant some playing time over Jason Kubel against lefties and rates as a good defensive center fielder.

Harris has always been a tweener, because his glove isn't strong enough to be a viable option at shortstop or second base and his bat isn't good enough to be an asset at a less demanding position. And that was true before he hit .157 in 120 plate appearances this season. Normally the Twins would've simply cut him loose, but because they're paying him $1.45 million this year and still owe him another $1.75 million for next year Harris will remain in the organization.

Between the Harris move and another ugly start by Nick Blackburn, yesterday wasn't a great day for handing out unnecessary multi-year contracts to players who were under team control anyway. I'm curious to see if Ron Gardenhire is willing to actually use Repko versus lefties or to at least give Denard Span days off, but either way a legit fourth outfielder was needed more than ever now that Michael Cuddyer is apparently MLB's worst-fielding third baseman.

18 Comments »

  1. Finally another outfielder! About time. I loved Duesning’s “audition” to replace Blackburn in the rotation, too. How many more times can Gardy allow him to function as gasoline?

    Comment by Chris — June 25, 2010 @ 1:09 am

  2. What decision was worse, Aaron?

    Signing Harris for two years? Deciding to carry three utility infielders for nearly half the season? Signing Crain as your 6th best reliever at the time he was signed, with Slama and Waldrop in AAA (why not have your 6th best reliever be a minimum salary guy)? Signing Blackburn (my choice, he was under control, his seconday numbers weren’t all that good, and there we no reason to sign him)?

    Comment by mike wants wins — June 25, 2010 @ 8:45 am

  3. The Twins are still deathly afraid of giving younger guys a shot when there’s a crappy veteran who can carry the load instead. These moves aren’t quite in the Livan Hernandez/Ramon Ortiz/Ruben Sierra/Sidney Ponson mold, but they’re close.

    Comment by Jason w — June 25, 2010 @ 8:48 am

  4. What a depressing post! Aaron, are you sad today?

    Comment by rachel — June 25, 2010 @ 9:02 am

  5. I would add the Punto signing as well. $4mil a year for the worst starting (not reserve) infeilder in the game? And to add to Jasons comment, I think it is more that Gardy is unwilling to play younger guys. Plouffe played better defense than Punto at SS (to my eyes, ignore the numbers) and I bet with more playing time, wouldve gotten better at the plate. Am I hatin’ on Punto? Yes sir I am. In these NL games, hes been an automatic out just like the pitcher.

    Comment by Scott — June 25, 2010 @ 9:18 am

  6. You really think Cuddyer will be the worst fielding third baseman in the MLB if that becomes a regular position for him? Yeah he struggled there in 2005 but he also struggled at that plate that year and the issues were clearly more mental than due to a lack of physical ability.

    Clearly he’ll be a step down from Punto and others but I bet he could be an average third-base man given regular playing time there. He was fine at 3B in the minors and was moved to OF because of Corey Koskie, not because of his occasional errors.

    Comment by AJ — June 25, 2010 @ 11:16 am

  7. I think the Rays should demote Bartlett just to make things fair.

    Comment by SBG — June 25, 2010 @ 11:35 am

  8. Interesting question, which decision was worst. I always enjoy comparing bad contracts. It inevitably raises questions about criteria. Are you comparing total dollars overspent, or ratio of cost to benefit?

    For instance, the Mets probably overpaid, in terms of total cost and benefit, for Johan Santana; those years at the end will probably not pay back their investment in salary. But it’s nowhere near as laughable as their signing of Luis Castillo. The total years and dollars were less, but the ratio of cost to value was ludicrous, so I’d call that a worse contract. But total dollars wasted have to be considered, too.

    Blackburn’s contract commits $14M to a guy who showed clear signs of walking on a tightrope that he could fall from any time. They had him under team control anyway, and got almost no discount by locking him up, so they assumed a lot of risk for basically no reason. In terms of total dollars at risk, this is the highest, and the risk to reward is pretty low too.

    With Harris, they must have thought, we’re giving him a chance to be our starting third baseman, and if that works out, he’ll be a great deal. He’d never really gotten a shot at a starting job before, and maybe they thought he’d blossom. For sheer bafflingness, this still might be my number one. He was a below average fielder and a below average hitter; was there such a great danger he’d blossom into a ten-million-dollar star?

    Crain was still regaining his form after an injury; the dollars were not that high; hard to see that he should be let go for nothing, when the cost of seeing how he did was not that high. I don’t bewail that signing. He’s not the guy who blocked Slama, Burnett and Duensing did; and it’s hard to argue with those decisions.

    I’d have to say, Blackburn. Neither his nor Harris’s contract locked in huge savings in relation to their potential upside, so I’d go with the total dollars here.

    Comment by By Jiminy — June 25, 2010 @ 11:36 am

  9. For what theyre making, id rather have harris than punto as the reserve infielder. at least harris can play all four positions whereas punto can only play 2B

    Comment by Scott — June 25, 2010 @ 11:54 am

  10. For what theyre making, id rather have harris than punto as the reserve infielder. at least harris can play all four positions whereas punto can only play 2B

    Scott — the strib called and wants your inanity back on its page

    Comment by SBG — June 25, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

  11. This is a good day because it means we have reached the point in the season where the Twins have realized that some of offseason roster moves aren’t working out and that its time to cut bait. It happens every year, and it usually means good things will follow. Hopefully Crain is next, and get Neshek back up. Blackburn probably isn’t going anywhere because of his contract, but let Duensing start and have Blackburn do the mop up work, at least until Blackburn figures out how to get guys out.

    Comment by Dan — June 25, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

  12. I love the picture of Harris.

    That is all.

    Comment by Breaker — June 25, 2010 @ 2:14 pm

  13. Worst contract? Didn’t the Twins give Mike Freaking Lamb a two-year deal?

    Comment by Neil — June 25, 2010 @ 4:49 pm

  14. SBG, all im trying to get across is that punto can no longer play short, whereas harris still has the range to play. they desperately need hardy back in the field.

    Comment by Scott — June 25, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

  15. my setiments exactly, The Nick Blackburn contract was unnecessary at least the Harris deal was for less years and money but they’re both bad deals at the time and have gotten worse since…

    Immediately i was like wow Blackburn essentially makes even money per year as Baker.. does well wow

    yeah hopefully the Twins are MUCH more carefull of who they shell out multi-year deals toooooooooooooooooo

    Comment by Steve — June 26, 2010 @ 11:45 am

  16. Blackburn has pitched poorly but but I would not take him out of the rotation just yet, give him a couple of more games to right the ship, he will be OK. Harris had to go, he was contributing nothing. What I don’t understand is the Twins desire to play Cuddyer at 3B, he has proven he is not a 3B and has stated in the past he does not like to play there. They have Valencia on the roster but play him sparingly, why bring up your best 3B prospect and pick and choose when to play him? Valencia has not impressed me so far but you have to play the guy to find out if he has any future.

    Comment by jjswol — June 26, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

  17. I wouldn’t say Cuddy has proven in the past that he can’t handle third base. Although his defense there wasn’t great he was young and getting jerked around a lot by Gardy at the time. I’m not optimistic that he will turn into even a slightly less than league average defender there but I think the quality of his bat – the lack of quality of his glove still work out to be better than Punto or Tolbert. I’d greatly prefer that Valencia gets a chance there for an extended period of time after Hardy gets back. I have no numbers to back it up, but I highly doubt that trying Cuddy at third base for a little while won’t have that great of an impact on wins and losses over the course of a season.

    Comment by jason — June 26, 2010 @ 12:31 pm

  18. On the other hand, offering bringing Pavano back is looking like genius. Seven or more innings in 12 of his 15 starts, including consecutive complete games, and only two starts lasting less than six innings. Almost every outing is solid and keeps the Twins within reach. Solid and consistent. Nice investment.

    Comment by Ted — June 26, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

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