After Carl Pavano accepted arbitration, the Twins found themselves in a brand new bind — they had 41 players on their 40 man roster. So they had to get rid of someone, and there were certainly plenty of options.* But they chose to cut Boof Bonser, and I can’t say I understand the decision.
* Tolbert if you want to cut the worst player, Keppel if you want to cut the worst pitcher.
Boof pitched poorly enough in 2008 to lose his job, then missed all of 2009 with an injury. The Twins, it’s worth noting, gave him the typical Twins medical advice when he began having shoulder problems during 2008; rest and rehabilitation to waste a few months, then major surgery when it becomes clear rest & rehab never could have actually solved the problem. Hey, it worked for Neshek! So Boof ended up getting the Jesse Crain Special* and missed the year. Of course, he got a year of major league service time for that — just like Liriano and Neshek did — which means Boof would have been arbitration eligible this year, and would almost certainly have cost over $1M.
* That’s the “rotator cuff and torn labrum” surgery that all Twins pitchers seem to need after spending enough time with Rick Anderson. What? Did I say that out loud?
So yes, maybe the move was predicated on money, but it’d only be half a million more than Bobby Keppel makes, and I don’t see a reason to think that Boof couldn’t have bested Keppel’s 91 ERA+ in a long-relief/mop-up role. And given Boof’s arm and stuff and propensity for strikeouts, he certainly had more upside; a pitcher like that could have success as a 7th/8th inning setup man.
I don’t think this move was about money — there’s just not enough of it involved. And I don’t think it’s about talent either — even Gardenhire must know that Keppel’s no great shakes. I’d be somewhat surprised if we haven’t replaced Keppel by the time Spring Training ends.
I think this move indicated something else; that the Twins have soured on Bonser, perhaps much in the same way that they’ve soured on Perkins. I don’t know why they might have given up on him … maybe he put a bunch of weight back on, maybe his velocity is down, maybe he’s not taking well to his workout program, maybe he’s being an asshole, maybe the Twins are being assholes, there are plenty of options. But Boof’s stock has tanked over the last 18 months, and it can’t all be because of performance. (He’d need to have either gotten on the mound, or indicated that he can’t get back onto the mound, for it to be solely or primarily for performance reasons.)
It remains to be seen if there’s any interest around the league. How many teams have a roster spot available for a high-upside strikeout pitcher in his 20s on a minor league contract? Would they be willing to take the risk given his injury history?
If nobody wants Boof, the Twins can keep him at AAA, which is probably what they’re hoping for. But I can’t imagine any reason to take this risk given the option of simply cutting Keppel loose.
What do you think the reasoning here was? Are you happy to see Boof go, or not?21 comments