During Spring Training, it was my opinion that Brian Buscher should have come north with the club and been the starting third baseman. A March slump combined with the presence of Mike Lamb’s Contract to ship Buscher off to Rochester, leaving us to endure Lamb’s .224/.263/.302 performance at the plate for a few months.
A 27 year old with suspect defensive ability and a poor minor league track record, Buscher never got much love from the stat communities. He began his career by posting a .630 OPS in low-A ball, followed by a .772 in high-A, and a .714 in AA. Those simply aren’t good numbers, especially from a corner infielder. But since joining the Twins in 2007, Buscher has done nothing but hit: he’s now got a .908 OPS in 93 total games at AAA split over two seasons, showing respectable discipline and power.
He was recently called up to splt a 3B platoon with Matt Macri, in replacement of Lamb’s abysmal performance — and has continued to hit, though his discipline and power haven’t found there way from Rochester just yet. He’s also played a role in the Twins’ recent streak of scoring a few runs — he’s driven in 8 runs and scored 4 of his own in just 8 games since being called up.
The other half of the platoon, Macri, has shown even more with the bat, hitting .367/.406/.500 in his 14 games. These two players combining to absolutely crush Lamb’s performance is a definite boost for the offense, and the Twins should start seriously thinking about seeing what they can get for Mike Lamb in a trade. It won’t be much — but at least he’ll be off the roster and we won’t have to pay him to imitate a large Nick Punto.
This performance should be working to cement Buscher and Macri on the roster, but it’s yet to be seen if it will. Gardenhire famously dislikes players who show any sign of having talent — and his middling showing in the minors continues to hurt them. But I’m not so sure it should. Should the possibility that players can learn and improve be completely ignored?
Frankly, I’m glad to see both Buscher and Macri getting at bats, and I’m glad to see them both hitting well; I hope it continues. I wonder, though … did Mike Lamb’s proven mediocrity really warrant waiting until mid-June to make this change? His career 93 OPS+ isn’t exactly the kind of thing that really stands out among third basemen.
This platoon should have started much earlier.