July 2, 2003

Joe and Johan, Roberto and Carl, Jay and Dave

Lots of stuff on my mind, so I'll get right to it...

Last week I talked about the struggles of Minnesota's starting pitchers and begged the Twins, once again, to FREE JOHAN SANTANA! I also presented Joe Mays as the #1 candidate to lose his spot as a starter.

Then I saw this in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune yesterday:

Twins Notes: Mays to stay in rotation

CHICAGO -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, relying on advice from pitching coach Rick Anderson, decided to keep struggling starter Joe Mays in the rotation despite his season-long struggles.

"That's what 'Andy' wants to do, and he's my pitching coach, so that's what we're going to do," Gardenhire said.

Gardenhire admitted that he will move reliever Johan Santana into the rotation if he thinks a starter needs to be replaced, and Mays has struggled more than anybody else in a rotation that compiled an ERA of 6.01 in June.

"Everybody knows we have a safety valve," Gardenhire said. "The next guy into the rotation is Santana. Everybody knows he can go into the rotation if that's what we need. If this continues, then we have to make moves. But we're looking at this from the positive perspective."

Maybe this is me just being optimistic for once in my life, but I really get the feeling this thing I have been talking about for the last year or so is finally going to happen - Johan Santana is finally going to become a full-time starting pitcher for the Minnesota Twins. It's about a year too late as far as I am concerned, but now is better than never.

Joe Mays is struggling and he has been struggling for the last 2 years. Yet, the Twins continue to give him a ton of slack and keep in the rotation. Now, I understand if Roger Clemens has a horrible stretch and you stay with him or Pedro Martinez struggles and you keep him in the rotation, but this is Joe Mays we're talking about. And, more importantly, this "tough stretch" for Mays is a pretty long one.

This is Mays' 5th major league season:

Year      IP      ERA

1999 171 4.37
2000 160 5.56
2001     234     3.16
2002      95     5.38

2003 94 6.30

Okay class, which of those things is unlike the others?

At some point the Twins need to realize that 2001 was a fluke and that Joe Mays, even with one incredibly good and fluky season, has a 4.62 career ERA and has been a completely worthless pitcher for the last 2 years.

Of course, the way things have gone with the Twins and Santana, Johan will finally be put into the rotation to replace Mays, he'll go like 7-1 with a 2.12 ERA in the second-half and then Eric Milton will come off the DL and Ron Gardenhire will stick him back into the rotation and put Johan back into the bullpen. You laugh, but let me assure you that Gardenhire and the Twins are perfectly capable of doing just that.

I like Joe Mays. He seems like a good guy whenever I have heard him interviewed and it's not his fault the Twins gave him a massive long-term contract on the basis of one good season. But the fact is that he simply has never been able to strike anyone out and, over the last couple years, he has given up homers at an alarming rate. Those are not things that, when combined, lead to successful pitching.

Meanwhile, there is a guy in the bullpen that many people, myself included, feel could be one of the best pitchers in all of baseball - right now. He is 24 years old and over the last 2 years - while Mays has had a 6.00 ERA - he has proven that he can pitch at a high level in the major leagues. Why not stick Johan in the rotation, put Mays in the bullpen for a while and let's see what happens. What's the worst-case scenario? Johan sucks as bad as Mays and you have to switch them back? Even then, at least you find out if Johan can be a full-time starter (which is certainly a lot better than trying to find out exactly how many souvenir baseballs Mays can distribute to the fans in the outfield seats).

It's a no-brainer and if Rick Anderson is the guy keeping it from happening, then that, along with the fact all of his current starting pitchers stink, is a reason for him not to be in a position to make such decisions. You've got greatness waiting for a chance to shine, don't keep it locked in the bullpen because of Joe Freaking Mays!

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