May 21, 2009

Swarzak called-up, Breslow released, Ayala next?

On Monday, I dug into Joe Christensen's speculation of Luis Ayala (or another reliever) potentially being released in the near future to add another reliever. That reliever of course would come in and try to help aide the Twins disastrous bullpen. My thoughts were that Craig Breslow would make more sense to be let go, but somewhat lightened up to the thought of seeing Ayala gone.

When the Twins placed Glen Perkins on the disabled list and called up Sean Henn, the writing was on the wall for Breslow. The 28-year-old southpaw was 1-2 with a 6.28 ERA and has been having problems all season throwing strikes. He had 11 strikeouts to go along with 11 walks. He's leaving the Twins the same way he came in, through waivers. Just under a year after being claimed off of waivers by the Twins, Breslow was again claimed off of waivers yesterday by the Oakland Athletics. It was the third time in the last 14 months that Breslow has been claimed off of waivers.

Taking his place on the roster will be Anthony Swarzak. As I wrote yesterday, Swarzak has been absolutely sensational since his promotion to Triple-A last year and really deserves this chance. With Perkins out for at least the next two weeks, Swarzak should have enough opportunities to give the Twins a reason to keep him on the roster when Perkins is ready to come back. That of course could mean a couple things. A current starter could be sent to the bullpen, although that seems highly doubtful as the Twins really don't like to go that route. The more likely scenario is that Swarzak could be competing for one of the current relievers roster spots in the bullpen (yes, I am somewhat contradicting my first statement of the Twins not liking to convert starters into relievers). Other than Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier and to a lesser extent; Jose Mijares, nobody's place in the bullpen is guaranteed (Crain could be in that mix, but I'm not sure how many more options he has remaining, if any).

Regardless, Swarzak will make his Major League debut on Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers. He'll have his work cut out for him as the Brewers are one of baseball's hottest teams, winning 13 of thier last 16 games.

There will probably be a lot of people questioning why Ayala wasn't the one to go. After all, Breslow is cheaper, left-handed, under team control for a few more years, and has had recent success. On the other hand, Ayala hasn't been the same since undergoing Tommy John surgery in the Spring of 2006 and costs more while he isn't under team control past this season. But thankfully Ayala pitched well last night, needing just over 3 pitchers per batter to get through 10 hitters through three innings. We'll see if this can be a sign of things to come. But that's highly unlikely.

In the meantime, hopefully the Twins continue using Ayala exclusively in non-pressure situations until he's proven that he isn't a complete liability. If he doesn't turn things around, he could follow Breslow sooner rather than later.


Infielder Nick Romero has been promoted from Single-A Beloit to Advanced-A Ft. Myers despite carrying a .640 OPS and being tied with Luke Hughes and Deibinson Romero for an organizational worse with 8 errors. The Snappers have also placed pitcher Shooter Hunt on the disabled list with a strained groin muscle while releasing Henry Reyes. Taking their places on the roster, pitchers Mike Tarsi, Blake Martin and Curtis Leavitt have all been activated from the D.L. All three have been on the disabled list since the beginning of the season.