Twins make Kevin Mulvey their No. 12 pitcher

Posted on July 15th, 2009 – 12:38 PM
By La Velle

The Twins have selected the contract of righthander Kevin Mulvey from Class AAA Rochester and have optioned catcher Jose Morales to Rochester.

Mulvey was 3-6 with a 3.93 ERA in 17 starts with the Red Wings. He lost his last start on July 9 against Syracuse but held the Chiefs to one run over eight innings on seven hits and a walk.

That was an example of how strong some of his outings have been. But Mulvey has struggled to be consistent all season. He gave up five earned runs in two separate outings before he faced Syracuse. He threw a complete game shutout on June 11 but was knocked out on 3.2 innings after that.

Mulvey is one of four players the Twins received for Johan Santana before the 2008 season and is projected to be a mid-to-back of the rotation starter.

The Twins have gone the last month with a 11-man pitching staff. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said part of the reason was that no one has stepped up from the minors to deserve a call up. If that’s not enough motivation to go hard after a reliever from another organization, I don’t know what is. The Twins have shown interest in Matt Capps and John Grabow from Pittsburgh and have called Toronto about their relievers (Scott Downs? Jason Frasor? Brandon League?) Where’s the follow-through?

Morales finishes his third stint with the Twins this season. He’s been up primarily as insurance on the days Joe Mauer and Mike Redmond are the lineup. It’s too bad the Twins couldn’t work his bat into the lineup a little more. The switch-hitting Morales batted .343 in 32 games, but it’s become obvious that it’s a delicate situation with Morales and Redmond on the same roster.

Redmond is respected in the clubhouse, is more familiar with the staff and has better catching skills than Morales.  I’m sure that’s a big reason why Redmond got the nod on the days Mauer DH’d. You also got the sense that Gardenhire didn’t want to touch a nerve with the veteran. Redmond is batting .236 and is at his best when he shoots the ball through the hole on the right side of the infield when there’s a runner on first.

Experience vs a young hitter. The numbers scream for Morales but you can’t measure what it means to have a savvy guy on the bench who’s popular in the clubhouse.

Morales was originally a second baseman but couldn’t cut it and was moved to catcher. He still takes grounders and second, and sometimes at third, but would have been used in the field only if the Twins were in an emergency situation. If he could still play in the field I’m sure it would be easier to keep him.

My guess is that we haven’t seen the last of Morales. They way the ball finds Redmond, the Twins probably will have to recall Morales before the season is over.

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