April 15, 2010

Twins Send Burnett Back to Minors, Call Up Mahay

Following yesterday afternoon's loss to the Red Sox the Twins optioned Alex Burnett back to Triple-A and called up Ron Mahay, transferring Joe Nathan to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster for the veteran left-hander. Even at 39 years old Mahay should be a decent middle reliever and the Twins will use him primarily as a lefty specialist, pushing Jose Mijares into more of a pure setup role (if he gets on track) and Brian Duensing into long relief.

Burnett looked good in his first taste of the big leagues, flashing a low-90s fastball with the type of quality off-speed stuff you'd expect from a former starter, but at 22 years old and with a grand total of just 57 career innings above Single-A he'll likely benefit from some additional seasoning at Rochester. In calling up Mahay the Twins once again bypassed Anthony Slama, and unlike with Burnett the 40-man roster situation can't be blamed.

Mahay obviously fills a different role than Slama would and apparently the Twins feel strongly about needing a third left-hander in the bullpen, but it'll be interesting to see what happens once Clay Condrey is ready to come off the disabled list. Burnett initially replaced Condrey and he or Slama could have simply been sent back to Triple-A when the time came, but there's no such option with Mahay, who'd have to clear waivers and accept an assignment to the minors.

Perhaps when Condrey and his $900,000 salary are ready to return the Twins will keep Mahay as the bullpen's second lefty and send Duensing to Triple-A to work as a starter, but short of that or simply releasing Mahay if he doesn't impress right away I'm not sure what the plan is now. And then of course there's the issue of whether a seventh reliever is even more useful to the Twins than a fifth bench guy could be, although they seem committed to a 12-man staff.

Certainly there are times during a 162-game season when the extra bullpen arm comes in very handy, but more often than not it's tough to find consistent work for 12 pitchers when not so long ago the average staff had 10 or 11 guys. Burnett was with the Twins for 10 days, during which time they had just one off day and the starters had a fairly light workload of 6.1 innings per outing, yet he was called upon for just 2.1 innings and a total of 38 pitches.

Whether used on a pitcher or a position player the 25th spot on the roster won't have much of an impact, but with Drew Butera and Alexi Casilla extremely limited in their usefulness and Jim Thome more or less strictly a pinch-hitter the Twins' current four-man (or maybe 3.5-man) bench could probably make better use of an extra body than the bullpen has so far. Along with Burnett barely seeing action in 10 days, Mijares and Duensing have combined for 5.1 innings.


  1. I agree that another bat on the bench would be helpful, but that bat needs to be able to play CF. This is where, as a Twin’s fan, I’m supposed to endorse Jacques Jones, but I’m just not a believer in the comeback story. His spring training production was a small sample size against pitchers that aren’t exactly MLB talent. I don’t think the Twin’s are believers either seeing as how they chose not carry a true back-up for Denard. So I guess what I’m getting at is that I feel until an opportunity presents itself in which a reasonable big-league CF becomes available, use the 25th spot on a reliever and keep guys fresh. As the old saying goes, you can never have enough pitching.

    Comment by Marc — April 15, 2010 @ 1:54 am

  2. I would hate to see Duensing go down to AAA while Mijares is faltering. Twins need a good lefty for spot roles, plus Duensing has shown he can go a lot more than one inning. What other arm in the pen could walk out there in the third inning and pitch the next five? Plus, if any of the starting five gets hurt, Duensing’s already there, ready to go. If anybody gets sent down it should be Mijares. He’s lost his mojo and needs to get it back.

    Comment by jimbo92107 — April 15, 2010 @ 10:14 am

  3. Yesterday’s 8th inning three run double by Hermidia – would Ben Revre have caught it? It appeared Span got a bad jump on it and was a step short of catching. As much as it hurts to say I think Gomez catches that ball without a dive.

    Comment by pk — April 15, 2010 @ 11:57 am

  4. Should the Twins go with 11-men in the pitching room? If the starters can consistently go 6 innings…not five like Slowey did, then perhaps they can…but who goes. That’s the magic question.

    Mahay and Duensing are on the bubble, as will be COndrey when he returns. Mijares still ahs options, so he could take a trip back to Rochester. Neshek, too. But Pat will be dynamite and wants to stya so bad.

    Again,m better to be pitcher heavy than pitching poor.

    And Condrey won’t be throwing again until this week at the earliest, and after he shows some improvement, the Twins can keep him in the minors for, what, 21-days?

    Yes, another player on the bench would be wonderful. Actually, someone else at third with Punto and Harris as the bench guys would be even more wonderful.

    Comment by Joel T. — April 15, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

  5. Mr. Gleeman,

    Valid point on the position player. Name which one you would want to see called up.

    If #12 pitcher is only going to get short and spotty work, then it makes sense to have that be Mahay. Let Slama get consistent work in the minors and continue his development. It is a long season with injuries, waivers and trades yet to happen.

    Comment by Brian — April 15, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

  6. Gleeman is the reason I jumped on the Slama bandwagon last year, and his stats seem to warrant him strong consideration. I had never seen Slama pitch before the opening exhibition game at T.F., and when I saw him run out of the bullpen, I felt like I understood why the Twins have been giving him a slow ride through the system. That guy is skinny as a toothpick, and looks more like a DIII college pitcher than an MLB one. I am not saying that should matter to the Twins, just that it might. He is about as unimposing on the mound as a pitcher can be; at least before a pitch is thrown. He obviously has skills, so he will get his chance eventually. I just can’t help wondering if the Twins are judging him by his size. I think Duensing should go be a starter in the minors, since we know he can pitch at this level anyways. That way his arm will be stretched out when we need him, and we will need him.

    Comment by (the other) Neil — April 16, 2010 @ 12:53 am

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