Joe Christensen just brought us an update from the GM meetings in Chicago,* noting that we’ve lost Armando Gabino to the Orioles on waivers, that we’ve placed Juan Morillo on the 40 man roster, and that Justin Huber cleared waivers and is on his way back to Rochester.
* Before I say anything about these moves, I just want to point out that I really would have liked to try to crash these meetings, and was hoping I could figure out where they were happening and maybe sneak in. Could have been fun. Except, as it turns out, they’re holding the meetings at O’Hare airport, which is absurdly far out of my way and is very, very inconvenient. Couldn’t they have gotten a hotel downtown? Is the economy really that bad? Oh well, I guess I’ll just be reporting on the GM meetings from afar, as usual.
First, the Gabino news. He was a mid-level prospect for us the last few years, posting acceptable strikeout rates (consistently around 6.5 K/9 throughout the minors) and low walk rates (2.8 BB/9 in the minors). Basically, he’s exactly the sort of strike throwing machine who can’t strike very many people out that the Twins ostensibly value highly. His problem, though, within the organization is that he’ll be entering his age-26 year, and thus is no longer really a prospect with a huge amount of upside; compound that with the fact that he’s the same age as (or older than) the other pitchers in our rotation — who happen to be the same type of pitcher but more talented than Gabino — and it’s pretty clear he has no place in the future of the organization.
Add to that the fact that Gardy apparently hates his guts, and it’s really no surprise he’s gone. He was called up this year because the team was woefully short of pitchers — and Gardy let him into one game as a reliever and one game as a spot starter, before letting him rot in the bullpen for the rest of the season, refusing to call on him regardless of how badly Keppel and the others were ruining the game. And if there’s one thing we know about the Twins, it’s that if Gardenhire doesn’t like you, you’re going to ride the bench until you’re off the team.
Gabino is not a big loss.
Morillo, of course, continues to be interesting. He posted an excellent 11.7 K/9 this year at AAA, but still can’t harness his blazing fastball as he also posted an abysmal 6.9 BB/9. Apparently the Twins still think they can do something with him, because they’ve decided to protect him from the Rule 5 draft by putting him on the 40-man roster. Either that, or they’re simply astounded by the speed of his fastball, the likes of which the Twins have probably never seen before.
If Morillo winds up playing a significant role in the Twins’ bullpen this year without demonstrating increased command in the minors, it means the Twins are in trouble.
Huber was another guy who Gardy simply didn’t care for; despite posting a reasonably impressive .273/.356/.482 line in AAA, with 22 HR, 22 2B, and an 84/51 K/BB ratio in 506 PA, Gardy apparently couldn’t find more than two plate appearances for the 2B/3B in over a month of service time. I will point out, of course, that Gardy found plenty of work for Matt Tolbert at both of those positions. Once again, September call-ups just meant that Gardy’s doghouse gets bigger.
Normally I’d be a little bit surprised that nobody decided to take a flier on Huber, but this isn’t a normal time. We haven’t seen what to expect from the free agent market this year — it’s possible that prices will be severely dampened by the effects of the economy on baseball teams (most of whose owners simply have no money beyond the massive loans that allow them to call themselves wealthy), and by the glut of free agents on the market. This situation could well be exacerbated by Buster Olney’s prediction that up to dozens of talented arbitration-eligible players will simply be non-tendered rather than offered a contract, further increasing supply in a demand-starved market.
As a result, teams probably wanted to see what happens, as there will presumably be plenty of available players who are simply better than Huber. Perhaps the Twins will be watching, waiting for such an option to pounce on.3 comments