Usually, I don't read much into what MLB.com Twins beat writer Kelly Thesier says, unless its a funny mailbag question or something she wrote that just doesn't look quite right. However, she does provide plenty of quotes from the inner circle that controls the Twins. And manager Ron Gardenhire has had plenty to say lately.
J.D. Durbin was yesterday's hot topic and that continues to be, but more in the sense that it is becoming increasingly unlikely he will be on the team come next week. According to Thesier's article yesterday, Gardenhire sees the last roster battles as one between Carlos Silva and Matt Garza for the fifth spot in the rotation and one between Josh Rabe, Chris Heintz and Durbin for the final roster spot.
As for Durbin, Thesier says that his lack of options are "an issue with the club hesitant to lose a power arm like his," but Gardy has "made clear his preference earlier this spring to keep 11 pitchers and go with an extra bench player." In other words, Durbin is probably done. And that is because we are seeing a repeat of 2005.
As fans surely recall, the possibility of Joe Mauer getting hurt in 2005 freaked out Gardy so much that he decided to keep Corky Miller on the roster for a third-catcher. Miller managed 12 at-bats with an amazing .000/.000/.000 line before getting sent down for good. (Miller, for those tracking, holds an astounding .190/.285/.310 career line. Have to be excited about that 0.95 Isolated Discipline. This guy is patient!) By keeping Miller, the Twins were forced to part with Michael Restovich.
Restovich has a career .286/.367/.500 line at the minor-league level, with 155 homers. He had several great years in the Twins' minor-league system, including a great year at Triple-A in 2002 when he hit .286/.353/.542 with 29 homers and 98 RBI. In other words, he had the potential to be a great outfielder for the Twins and was just as good of a prospect as Durbin is, if not better.
Despite this, Restovich was never really given much of a chance by the Twins to prove himself at the major-league level and like Durbin, he struggled with injuries the year before he was released. He was easily disposed of so that Gardy could sleep at night. It appears Durbin will meet the same fate and once again, it will be for questionable reasons.
Restovich never latched on with another team, only to come back and hit home run after home run against them like a certain former Twin. Likewise, it isn't all that likely that if he is picked up, Durbin will join a team and destroy the Twins every time he faces them. But that isn't the point. The point is it would be a silly move to keep Heintz on the team and let go of a talented arm like Durbin's.
Many talented arms don't bloom until later. Spring training stats aren't meaningful enough to determine letting go of Durbin. And if keeping him means that Rabe or Heintz might be lost, it isn't as bad a loss Durbin.
As for the Silva and Garza battle? No use in wasting breath. Everyone knows the sad answer to that fiasco.