Roster roundup: Finding room for Doumit

April, 16, 2012
4/16/12
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Please think these things through: The Twins might be bad on offense, but Ron Gardenhire’s being a worrywart over having Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit in the same lineup is a way to make a bad lineup worse. The issue is that Mauer and Doumit are his two backstops, and there’s that old-school concern that if your starting catcher has to come out you want to have a guy on the bench to back him up. If Doumit is the DH, that swap might hurt the Twins’ offense because they’d lose the designated hitter.

But you'll hurt your offense when you play Clete Thomas over Doumit because he might have to come in and catch a couple of innings if Mauer needs to come out.

That might seem silly to bring up when Thomas is the hero of the hour in the Twin Cities. The recently discovered bit of waiver bait did just hit a home run, after all. But nice first impression aside, don’t forget that this is the same Thomas who was projected to deliver a .660 OPS or so via Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS before the year. Maybe that looks good in Minnesota, but it’s no reasonable solution, even for this lineup.

Speaking of which: Thomas just got Pittaro’d, a legacy that Tigers fans might remember well from the days of the immortal Sparky Anderson back in the ’80s:
  • Sparky on Chris Pittaro: "He's going to be a great ballplayer, and that's etched in cement." Pittaro wound up with 102 PAs in the major leagues, hitting .249/.299/.323.
  • Leyland on Thomas in February 2011: "Clete, he’s one of our favorites, really. He’s a four-tools guy, he’s got a lot of tools." Favorite or not, Thomas spent 2011 in Toledo, and I’m sure the Tigers will be glad to get the occasional postcard from Minnesota.
Putting the word 'rotate' in your rotation: Speaking of Sparky, Leyland and the Tigers, remember those "Tigers romp" predictions of 10-12 days ago? Well, take another page out of history, because right now the Kitties’ rotation looks a lot like those mid-’80s Motor City squads. That was a rotation that had Jack Morris, a good sidekick or two (Dan Petry and Frank Tanana), and … a cast of dozens that could not hold the lead for a heavy-hitting lineup.

Fast forward and you’ve got Justin Verlander flanked by frustrating/promising Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello, and ... well, we’ll see won’t we? It depends on how long Doug Fister is out, but the Tigers are being sensible and cautious with the strike-throwing beanpole.

The camp battle for the fifth starter was supposed to be an amusing sidelight to the Tigers’ season-long stomp to first place. Adam Wilk and Drew Smyly are getting first crack at replacing Fister. In reality they’re still essentially battling over who gets to stay once Fister is ready to return. Andrew Oliver's shot at re-entering the race probably hasn’t been helped by his nine walks in 9 2/3 innings pitched for the Mudhens.

Rotate times two: You might also pity the Padres, if you please. Dustin Moseley's shoulder looks bad, so he may not get to reap the benefit from pitching in Petco, while Tim Stauffer recovers from an injured triceps. In their spots, Bud Black gets to use righties Anthony Bass (15 minor-league starts above A-ball) and Joe Wieland (14).

That might seem like the Padres are pushing things, but they don’t want to call up top prospect Casey Kelly and add him to the 40-man roster any sooner than they have to -- not when they can push off his arbitration eligibility for another year. Bass is an interesting enough utility pitcher who could figure out a changeup and stick as a starter, while Wieland’s upside is that he eventually turns into a nice strike-throwing fourth-starter type -- a lot like Moseley.

Pleading the fifths, and at third: As the schedule starts to hit its regular rhythm, fifth starters Jerome Williams (Angels), Ryan Vogelsong (Giants), Drew Pomeranz (Rockies), Charlie Morton (Pirates) and Ted Lilly (Dodgers) all showed up and pitched over the weekend. So if you were hoping for anything really unconventional, guess again.

One of the things lost from that bit of scheduled shuffling? The Rockies’ commitment to multi-corner substitute Jordan Pacheco didn’t last. In broad strokes, Pacheco might seem like a perfect bench weapon. He switch-hits, plays catcher, third and first, and he has a career .803 OPS in the minors. But three starts in eight games, and see ya -- the Rockies’ hot corner belongs to Chris Nelson. The 2011 season was the first year in the last four that Nelson didn’t lose significant time to injury. Given that Nelson is also projected to deliver just a .714 OPS (again, thanks to Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS), he isn’t a great option for Colorado at third base even if he stays healthy. I suspect Dan O’Dowd’s not going to let this ride any longer than he has to.

Christina Kahrl covers baseball for ESPN.com. You can follow her on Twitter.

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