Part III — The Durbin factor, etc.

Posted on February 24th, 2007 – 4:00 PM
By Joe Christensen

Here’s the last of this week’s 10 questions. Thanks to your help, I think we’re off to a good start with this. Let’s do it again every now and then throughout the season. 

8. Matty asks: With Garza, Perkins, and Slowey looking like the strongest options should Ponson and/or Ortiz falter early, is there any sentiment in camp to consider Scott Baker and/or JD Durbin as bullpen options? It looks like a long shot for either to crack into the rotation and they have too much potential to just let their options run out.

In Part I, I offered my thoughts on Baker, and as for Durbin, he’s a total X-factor for me. Watched him throw in the bullpen Thursday, and he has some eye-opening stuff. It’s a shame he got injured last season (nerve damage in his right biceps) because he had a 2.33 ERA at Rochester before getting shut down for the season in late June.

I bet you this: The Twins won’t just cut him and lose him to waivers. They’ll either put him on the roster or trade him. He could be part of a package deal, with one of their relievers and another minor-league pitching prospect for something pretty good, maybe a veteran starter to plug into the rotation if others are stumbling.

9. Tony asks: What are the chances that LeCroy actually gets a spot on the Twins roster and possibly being the DH? A few years ago he had so much potential everyone talked about and if he gets the chance to play everyday could have some serious power.

I think LeCroy will go to Rochester, where he’d be available as a right-handed bat if the Twins needed him. What a luxury for this organization to have him working with their prospects, a la Crash Davis, mentoring the likes of Perkins, Garza, Kevin Slowey, Denard Span and Alexi Casilla. Someday soon, LeCroy will be a minor-league manager, working his way back to the bigs.

10. Justin asks: Tyner or Ford? I believe one or both need to go. Sweet Lew seems to have taken several steps backward and I believe Tyner is cheaper.

I see the point you’re making, especially if Jason Kubel’s knees prove healthy enough this spring for him to start playing outfield again. For now, it looks like both Tyner and Ford will make the roster, which would give the Twins six outfielders, including Rondell White, Torii Hunter and Michael Cuddyer. With Tyner’s emergence, I was surprised the Twins kept Ford, who was arbitration eligible and wound up getting a raise from $425,000 to $975,000. The Twins are convinced they can get Ford turned around, closer to his 2004 form. I’m not as convinced, but if they’re right, he’d be another potential trade chip.



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