Much to no one's surprise, the Twins re-assigned Matt Garza to minor-league camp yesterday, assuring Carlos Silva the fifth spot in the rotation to start the season. Garza pitched well this spring, posting a 1.50 ERA while allowing nine hits, walking five and striking out seven over 12 innings. Silva was of course horrible, posting an 11.02 ERA while allowing more than two base-runners per inning.
I feel bad for Garza. He came into this spring with the mindset that a spot in the rotation was his, and he wasn't going to do anything to lose it. And really, he didn't do anything to lose it. He pitched well. Of course, the Twins didn't really give him much of a chance to prove he belonged. He started only one game (Silva will make his fifth start tonight) and never pitched more than three innings in an outing.
As much as this move frustrates me, I can see how it is at least somewhat defensible. The fifth starter for the Twins will probably only make three starts in April, and Garza needs regular action early in the season. Furthermore, if the Twins had gone with Garza only to have him struggle badly or run into an injury, they would lack options to replace him since Silva would be gone and Kevin Slowey and Glen Perkins probably need a little more time in the minors.
I realize I'm toting the company line here. Don't get me wrong, I think you need to go with the guy that gives you the best chance to win, and without question that would appear to be Garza. All I'm saying is that this probably isn't the worst thing in the world, assuming the Twins don't handle the situation the way they handled the Castro/Bartlett debacle last year. If we reach the end of April and Silva is getting shelled while Garza is tearing up Triple-A, and the Twins do nothing, I'll be furious. But every indication is that Silva's leash is fairly short at this point. It seems that Ron Gardenhire has backed off from heaping the absurd praise on Silva that he's given him in the past and that he gave Castro early last season. Gardy has said that if Silva continues to struggle, the team will "make an adjustment." Hopefully that's the case
As it stands though, the Twins will apparently open the season with a potentially disastrous rotation. Behind Johan Santana, we'll be watching Boof Bonser, Ramon Ortiz, Sidney Ponson and Silva. I'm hoping the latter three can find a way to recapture the form they showed earlier in their careers. Even more, I'm hoping that if they can't, the Twins will not stand idly by and watch their 2007 season go to waste.