More thoughts on Ty Wigginton and Brandon Lyon

Posted on December 17th, 2008 – 12:26 PM
By Joe Christensen

Some follow-up thoughts after hearing the Twins won’t aggressively pursue Ty Wigginton but have expressed interest in Brandon Lyon:

(*) Wigginton does not play third base well enough to be the everyday guy for the Twins. Brendan Harris is a better defensive third baseman and equally versatile. Both bat righthanded. Harris will make about $500,000 next season. Wigginton will make at least $6 million.

Wigginton was a force at Houston’s Minute Maid Park last season and finished with an impressive batting line: .285/.350 (OBP)/.526 (SLG). But after June 17, Harris quietly batted .300/.362/.495.

As La Velle has noted, the Twins finished with 91 RBI from their third basemen last season, even with Mike Lamb chewing up all those early season at-bats. A Harris/Brian Buscher platoon might not be perfect. There are reasonable questions about whether Buscher can repeat his performance against RHP from last season: .316/.362/.432.

But the answer is not Wigginton, who isn’t a 500 percent upgrade over Harris.

(*) Lyon’s best pitch is his breaking ball. He is not overpowering but mixes his pitches well, not unlike Matt Guerrier. I know some readers will write him off after that comparison, completely forgetting Guerrier’s 2.35 ERA in 2007 and 2.83 ERA through June 7 last year.

Why add Lyon if the Twins already have a version of him in Guerrier? Lyon has been a closer and an eighth-inning guy. He was 26-for-31 in save opportunities last season. The Twins might not be upgrading, but they’d be adding depth. The presence of a pitcher with late-inning experience could really help Guerrier, Jesse Crain and Jose Mijares get comfortable in their roles.

Through July 18 last season, Lyon held opponents to a .238 batting average, but they hit .392 off him the rest of the way, as he lost his closing job with Arizona to Chad Qualls. His agent, Barry Meister, said Lyon is fully healthy.

In 2007, Lyon was terrific in a setup role, going 6-4 with a 2.68 ERA. He made $3.125 million last year. There is some thought that he’d take a one-year deal to rebuild his value before hitting the free agent market again next fall.

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