Confirming my fears of a few days ago, the Twins finalized their 25-man roster today and will indeed be keeping backup-backup(-backup?) catcher Corky Miller rather than any type of left-handed pinch-hitter. For one thing, this deeply worries me about the condition of Joe Mauer's knee. If the team had any faith whatsoever in Mauer to be healthy for the length of the season then they would cut the mediocre Miller loose and bring up Rob Bowen in an emergency situation. But nope, they feel it is necessary to have three guys on the roster ready to fill in behind the plate should Joe falter. This seems idiotic for a number of reasons. Even if Mauer is unable to play catcher, Mike Redmond would certainly be as adequate a starter as Henry Blanco was for last season's division champion team. I doubt he will have too terribly much trouble batting over .206. And should he need a day off, Matt LeCroy can play catcher if needed. Granted, he's not the best defensive backstop, but it is the guy's natural position. Moreover, by keeping Miller, the Twins leave themselves without a left-handed pinch-hitter. Ron Gardenhire downplays the issue by claiming that Mauer can pinch-hit on days when he is not starting... but what if his knee is hurt and he can't play, or what if he IS starting? Who are we going to bring in to replace Luis Rivas or Jason Bartlett against a dominant right-handed pitcher? Nick Punto? Ick... this is a dispicable move.
Another move that I question: keeping righty Matt Guerrier as the team's final relief pitcher rather than lefty CJ Nitkowski. Sure, Guerrier has had a solid spring and by leaving him off the 25-man roster we would've likely lost a pretty effective right-handed pitcher who was out of options, but let's look at this from a standpoint of how we are helping the team. We already have a guy who can come in and eat up innings in Terry Mulholland, and we already have at least two guys who can come in and retire right-handed hitters in Jesse Crain and Juan Rincon. So what, exactly, is the purpose of having Guerrier around? If JC Romero falters (which is none too unlikely considering his past and his performances this spring), we have nobody who can come in and get out left-handed hitters without Nitkowski. Should be fun when Travis Hafner steps into the batter's box late in a game for the Indians.
Gardenhire still needs to regain my trust after some extremely questionable decisions in last year's playoffs, and decisions like these are certainly not helping his status in my book.
I would also like to bid farewell to Mr. Michael Restovich, who, after dwelling in the Twins' minor league system for a long time, has finally departed for (hopefully) greener pastures, as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays claimed him off waivers yesterday. Restovich, a native of Rochester, Minnesota, was a hometown favorite who had good power but was never really a good enough all-around player to make a lasting impression in the big leagues. I had always hoped he would go somewhere else where he would get a real chance, since the Twins have been overloaded with outfield talent the past several years, but Tampa Bay seems to me like a poor fit. That team is already stacked in the outfield, with Carl Crawford, Aubrey Huff, and Alex Sanchez slated as starters; plus Rocco Baldelli will return to center field once he is healthy and the acclaimed speedster Joey Gathright sits waiting in the minors to be called up. Good luck Resto, it's too bad we were never able to give you a real chance here.