Notepad Scribbles, 5/19/10

If any of you follow @thrylos98 on Twitter, you probably know his favorite word.

Nepotism: Patronage bestowed or favoritism shown on the basis of family relationship, as in business and politics (

Now, are there any two players within the Twins organization that come to mind when you think of nepotism? Hint: One had his father play for the Twins in the past, the father of the other is the current Twins manager. That should be enough to figure out that we’re talking about Drew Butera and Toby Gardenhire. Plenty of people are already upset with Butera being on the roster, with some going so far as saying that Butera is on the roster because his father, Sal, played for the Twins in the past. I think that’s a bit of a stretch, considering that Butera is a far superior defensive catcher than Jose Morales, and although Wilson Ramos is more promising, he deserves to play every single day, something he would not do in the majors. Besides, Butera has only played in 8 games this year, and a handful of those were as a replacement for Joe Mauer in blowout games. Although many Twins fans have blamed Butera for a few losses this season, his impact on the team is not much considering how little he’s played this season.

As for Toby Gardenhire, I mention him because he was recently promoted to Triple-A Rochester, despite sporting a .225/.295/.250 batting line at Double-A New Britain. His promotion seems curious to a fan that doesn’t follow the minors very much, which likely would turn curiosity into anger, and like Thrylos, would instantly jump to the “Oh, his father is the manager, that’s why he got promoted” argument. However, do you remember what position Toby plays? How about the position he took up in spring training? Although he’s a middle infielder, he started catching this spring in order to become an emergency catcher. With Rochester starting both Wilson Ramos and Jose Morales every game, it becomes clear that they would need an emergency catcher if either Ramos or Morales became hurt, depending on who was catching that day. There certainly are other catchers that could be on Rochester’s roster, but the defensive flexibility that Toby provides is probably why he was promoted. Even if you still believe his promotion happened just because he’s a Gardenhire, remember that he’s still only in Triple-A. If he ever does make it to the major leagues, it will likely be only as a September call-up, and even then he’ll probably only come in as a defensive replacement or pinch-hitter in blowout games.* In his 2009 Prospect Handbook, Seth Stohs even said that he expects Toby to be a September call-up some day.

* Though I can imagine the complaints from fans if he ever does make the major league roster, regardless of how he’s used.

My second comment comes from yesterday’s 11-2 loss to the Blue Jays. Carl Pavano simply did not have a good game, as he gave up 6 earned runs and 10 hits in only 4 innings. To start the 5th, Ron Gardenhire chose to bring in lefty Ron Mahay, despite the fact that Mahay should strictly face only left-handed batters. Here was who Mahay faced, their handedness when batting in parentheses, and what happened in the game.

5th inning

Lyle Overbay (L) grounds out to 2nd base (1 out)

Alex Gonzalez (R) strikes out swinging (2 out)

Jose Bautista (R) grounds out to 3rd base (3 out)

Clearly, no issues with the first inning of work, even though 2 of the 3 hitters were right-handed.

6th inning

Edwin Encarnacion (R) struck out swinging (1 out)

Jose Molina (R) singled to center

Fred Lewis (L) singled to left, Molina to 2nd base

Aaron Hill (R) homered to left, Molina and Lewis score

Adam Lind (L) pops out to 2nd base (2 out)

That’s 5 righties and 3 lefties that Mahay faced yesterday. Since Brian Duensing has experience as a starting pitcher, thus has faced many right-handed hitters, especially recently, I thought that he would have made sense to eat up an inning or two from the bullpen. Even though he didn’t pitch the game before, he stayed in the bullpen for all this game while Mahay was sent out to face the most righties he’s ever seen in a single appearance since he was with the Kansas City Royals last year. Perhaps Duensing is now higher on the LOOGY (Left-handed One Out Guy) depth chart than Mahay, which Dan Gladden and John Gordon suggested during yesterday’s game. Even if that’s true, I feel that if both pitches are available for a blowout game, it makes more sense to use Duensing, especially when you need an inning or two. Instead, Gardenhire turned to Mahay yesterday, who couldn’t make it through 2 innings. There shouldn’t be any serious consequences from this move (unless you count Jesse Crain providing more evidence that he should be designated for assignment), but I feel that using Ron Mahay for more than one inning in a blowout game is not the right choice.


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