Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Blind Loyalty

When Michael Cuddyer suffered a fractured foot after being hit with a line drive during a rehab stint in the minors in early August, it seemed time to chalk 2008 up as a lost season for the right fielder. The best-case scenario had Cuddyer returning with just a few weeks left of the season, and with no minor-league seasons still going on, he wouldn't be able to get back up to speed at a lower level before joining the team. The success experienced by Denard Span after replacing Cuddyer in right field made it seem all the more likely that Cuddyer was done contributing this season.

Yet, for whatever reason, the Twins have been aggressively pushing to get Cuddyer back into action here in the final weeks of the season. He came on as a pinch-hitter in games on Saturday and Sunday, and just a day after saying that Cuddyer was not an option to start because he couldn't run on his foot, Ron Gardenhire inserted him as the starting designated hitter last night. My question is, why?

Prior to his pinch-hit appearance in Saturday's game, Cuddyer had not taken a major-league at-bat since late June. As aforementioned, he wasn't able to go on a minor-league rehab stint before returning to the team this time, so he hasn't experienced live game action since he hurt his foot. He's gone 1-for-5 and hasn't looked good at the plate. He can't run well because his foot is still bothering him. Furthermore, Span has done an excellent job of filling in in right field while Randy Ruiz has been solid as a right-handed bat off the bench. There is essentially no reason to be giving at-bats to Cuddyer at this point other than blind loyalty and commitment to his newly minted contract. With the Twins a game out of first place with 12 games left to play, their priorities should be arranged a bit differently.

6 comments:

Dwade said...

My normal antipathy for Cuddyer aside, I agree with you completely. I can abide the argument that Ruiz has no experience in high pressure situations, but realistically Cuddyer should have little to no impact on the race.

He's a decent bat to have off the bench, especially with Pridie available as a runner/defensive sub, but inserting him as DH after two mediocre at bats in Baltimore just proves that Gardy plays favorites to the detriment of the team.

Twins Fix said...

Agree with both of you. He would be used best as a bench bat, and a good one at that.

To waste at-bats with him up there getting back in the grove on things with just a few short weeks of regular season is just silly.

beth said...

To be fair, it's not like the Twins were hitting well last night and Cuddyer hit poorly. It's just as likely that whomever the Twins had DH would've also gone 0-3. But I am biased, too...

SethSpeaks said...

Not a big deal to me. If he can hit, his upside as a DH against a left-handed pitcher is certainly higher than Randy Ruiz! And as a pinch hitter, I'd take my chances. He's been taking BP. Again, when the next best RH hitting option is Randy Ruiz, Cuddyer sounds like a just-fine option to me!

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