Friday, March 25, 2005

Laffee Tiffee

I guess word must have filtered down to Fort Myers that Stick & Ball Guy is bored with the spring training bit. So just to add a little more spicy drama to the final two weeks of exhibition baseball, Gardy now tells Mark Sheldon at mlb.com that Terry Tiffee is mos def a primary contender to play 3rd base or make the club as the lefty bat off the bench.

"I'm not stuck on sending him to Triple-A if he's not one of my starters," Gardenhire said. "If he looks like he's going to be one of the better players down here and I can use him off the bench, I would do that with Terry Tiffee. It's not set that he has to go to Triple-A to play every day."

Tiffee may have felt his nerves yesterday as he muffed a couple choppers at the hot corner in the 3rd inning, but he compensated by going 3-for-3 at the plate, including a double, and scoring two runs. It's really the potential usefulness of that bat coming off the bench that Gardy is evaluating anyway, right?

In that regard, Tiffee has little competition stacked against him so far. The man who was brought in possibly to fill that role of backup corner infielder and lefty pinch-hitter, Eric Munson, has yet to make an impression in camp, and Michael Ryan is scuffling, while Tiffee is hitting .308 and offers the appealing versatility of being a switch-hitter. Of course if he could win the fulltime job at 3rd base and move Cuddyer to 2nd, he'd deserve my deepest thanks for finally bumping Tattoo Louiee to the bench... but I know I'm getting ahead of myself.

The bad news is that if both Jason Bartlett and Tiffee make the Opening Day roster, it's almost certainly the end of the line for Michael Restovich in a Twins uniform. Juan Castro has to be a roster lock because of his two-year contract, and if Gardy is thinking that Nick Punto is in the mix to start at 2nd base then he must have decided that he wants him at least as a utilityman. Factor in Matt LeCroy and Mike Redmond, and if Bartlett is the regular SS, there can only be room for one more player on the bench. If it is Tiffee, or it has to be a lefty bat, then Resto has to go.

It's sad that Restovich, formerly a blue-chip prospect and yet blocked on the organizational ladder even by the likes of Dustan Mohr, would finally have to get the boot because Gardy has a fetish for stockpiling futility infielders. I don't care that Resto did have a poor season in AAA last year. The upside to keeping a solid righthanded bat who can play OF is still greater than the benefits of keeping Nick Punto (or Juan Castro, or Luis Rivas) hanging around. But there it is. Throughout the season, every time you see Jacque Jones flailing at a lefty slider in the dirt, and the only late-inning substition option may be to bat LeCroy for him once then play the rest of the game with Punto in his spot, bow your head and think about the decision they're about to make here.

8 Comments:

At 3/25/2005 11:26 AM, Blogger Third Base Line said...

Perhaps Gardy is overly fond of futility infielders because he was one?

 
At 3/25/2005 1:52 PM, Blogger frightwig said...

I'm sure of it. People tend to have a soft spot for others who remind them of themselves.

He's said at least once that he'd like to give a player a second or third chance because he remembered how it felt when he was a struggling player hoping for a break himself. The other day he also referenced himself when saying that he didn't mind starting the season with a rookie SS, because the Mets did it with him at one time.

I don't know if he sees the irony in that he hit .240/.279/.312 as a rookie starter in 1982 and lost his job the next season, or if it occurs to him that as a player he didn't merit a special break any more than Punto or Ojeda probably do. I'm guessing not.

 
At 3/25/2005 7:02 PM, Blogger Leslie Monteiro said...

Hey, fright. Good to see you in the blog industry. I always enjoyed reading your takes on the Twins and baseball in general. Looking forward to talk to you this spring.

I got three questions to ask you if you don't mind.

1) Will Joe Mauer be healthy?

2) Will Joe Mays be a difference-maker?

3) Will Scott Baker be a fact in August?

Take care and I will bookmark your blog.

Leslie

 
At 3/25/2005 7:05 PM, Blogger Leslie Monteiro said...

I meant to say will Scott Baker be a factor in August like how Noah Lowry was for the Giants last year in his callup.

 
At 3/26/2005 10:31 AM, Blogger SBG said...

It worked. My interst has gone back up! :)

 
At 3/26/2005 8:08 PM, Blogger frightwig said...

Leslie, where have we met before?

I'm hoping to see Joe Mays make 30 starts and post an ERA in the mid 4's, but most of his showings in camp indicate that he already may be sharp enough to do better than that. We'll see.

I believe that Scott Baker already is more fact than fiction, but if he is a major player for the Twins this August it will mean that somebody else went down to injury. In that light, I hope we just get a look at him in September and he doesn't have to join the rotation until 2006.

 
At 3/26/2005 8:55 PM, Blogger Leslie Monteiro said...

Fanhome, fright.

I used to post as Twins4Ever last year, but I did not post much. I normally post at www.addictsports.com or www.baseball-fever.com

I figure Scott could be in the rotation if Kyle or Joe Mays stink. I have zero faith in Kyle Lohse. I am dissapointed he is with the Twins along with J.C.

Thanks for responding

 
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