Friday, February 02, 2007

Another Lefty?

As every Twins fan surely remembers, a pudgy lefty joined the team last with what seemed to be a very small chance to make a good contribution. However, Dennys Reyes did a pretty good job beating expectations, as he had a 0.89 ERA while striking out nearly a batter an inning and cutting his walks.

However, in recent weeks, Terry Ryan and others in the Twins organization have mentioned a desire for another lefty in the bullpen. Obviously, Ryan is giving opportunities to the likes of Mike Venafro and Randy Choate for a reason. He believes that there may even be a chance that Reyes starts. I think that's highly unlikely, but his want for another lefty sparks an interesting discussion.

Ricky Barrett (26 this March) was a 7th round draft pick in 2002 out of the University of San Diego. Barrett has been on a steady development since then, with solid stops at the Rookie league, low Single-A, high Single-A (his most impressive stop), Double-A, and then finally at Rochester the past two seasons. Barrett initially struggled there in 2005, going 4-4 with a 6.71 ERA in 63 innings, but he was far better out of the bullpen last year, going 5-1 with a 3.42 ERA in 47 1/3 innings, with the highest K rate of his career at 9.32/9 IP.

Barrett is not particularly well-known in the system, as many prospect lists throughout the blogsphere and on major sites don't mention him, but he appears to be a solid lefty reliever ready in the system. And unlike Willie Eyre last year, Barrett can strike out enough hitters to be effective, though, like Eyre, he is rather old for a prospect. That means its probably a good time to give Barrett a shot.

The good news is that, along with high-level prospects Oswaldo Sosa, Alexander Smit and Jose Mirajes, Ricky Barrett was recently added to the Twins 40-man roster. That at least suggests that the Twins could be considering using him over retreads and ineffective pitchers like Choate or Venafro.

However, this debate overshadows another major issue: who does this second lefty replace on the pitching staff? What it means is that J.D. Durbin, a once highly touted prospect, may have troubles getting on the Twins staff and that's unfortunate. Losing Alex Romero to the signing of Ramon Ortiz may have been a silly loss, but losing Durbin so that Sidney Ponson or another lefty can be on the roster is questionable, considering Durbin's talent. What's worse, once again, is wondering why the Twins won't consider trading someone like Juan Rincon to make room for their talented youth.