The Twins have spent the season confusing fans and analysts with their moves. Some they’ve made have been quite defensible and intelligent. For instance, picking up Darin Mastroianni on waivers has worked out quite well, as he’s played good defense and has hit .287/.349/.426 with 14 steals in 115 at-bats so far. Mastroianni may even end up getting a shot at second at the end of the season and with his ability to contribute some offensively, that’s not such a bad thing. Scott Diamond was a pickup from last year who has turned out well, the only real positive story in the rotation, with fantastic control (1.3 BB/9) allowing him to overcome a meddling strikeout rate (5.04 K/9) to produce fine numbers (3.81 FIP/3.69 xFIP, 2.0 fWAR). And Jared Burton and Casey Fien have been good scrapheap pickups in the bullpen.
However, they’ve always given shots to likes of Luis Perdomo, P.J. Walters, and yes, Sam Deduno. Deduno is baffling, as anyone walking more than they strikeout is not likely to maintain any positive level of success, but he has so far. But if Deduno, a 28-year pitcher with long-time control issues with his third club, gets a shot with good enough statistics at AAA, why not give that shot to Vasquez, who arguably has much more impressive stats over significantly more innings? Vasquez is also 28, has also had control issues to go along with impressive strikeout numbers, but was also a reliever the last few years and has seen his move back to the rotation come with improved control. 3.4 BB/9 still isn’t great, but when combined with a 8.9 K/9 rate, it may be enough.
In 88 1/3 innings at AAA, Vasquez has a 2.85 ERA, having allowed 65 hits while striking out 87 and walking 33. Yesterday, he struck out 10 in one of his best performances of the year. Vasquez is just the kind of player the Twins should be giving a shot to. When you are willing to give someone like Walters, a 27-year old who’s never really impressed in multiple seasons at AAA, several starts, it’s a little confusing why Vasquez is not getting the same chance when the Twins rotation is historically bad. I’d ask the same question about Cole De Vries, though I recognize that the local angle had to have played a role in his shot at the rotation. My point is more that if De Vries gets a shot, shouldn’t another older non-prospect get a shot when he has significantly better numbers at AAA?
Of course, this is a overall problem. The Twins seem to have this issue with Anthony Slama too, who’s now 28 and has produced great numbers again (back from injury, he has a 0.73 ERA in 24 2/3 innings with 41 Ks and 13 BBs) but is passed up in favor of the likes of Fien (who’s, as mentioned, been fine at the majors, but he was rather mediocre at AAA, with a 4.30 ERA in 46 innings, 42/14 K/BB ratio) and Perdomo (28-year old, 0.93 ERA in 19 2/3 innings at AAA, 18/2 K/BB ratio, though he’s now been sent down again). Arguably they are having that issue now with Chris Parmelee.
Today, it was confirmed that 31-year old veteran outfielder and minor leaguer Matt Carson was getting the call up over Parmelee. Though frustrating, this is actually likely the right decision by the Twins. Carson isn’t really a good hitter, as he’s hit .277/.339/.443 this year in 405 ABs at AAA with a 102/33 K/BB ratio. Over 5 partial AAA seasons and 1846 ABs at AAA, he’s hit .280/.342/.500 with a 430/152 K/BB ratio. He’s nothing impressive, but for a bench bat, he may provide some power. And while Parmelee has been nothing short of a revelation at AAA this year (putting up numbers not seen at Rochester before of .346/.465/.676 in 185 ABs), bringing him up again to sit on the bench as they did earlier this year would be even more frustrating. The team is better off for the future bringing him up to give him a real shot at regular starts in September. Ultimately, they’ll have to make a move they’ve been putting off for whatever reason–namely trading Justin Morneau–to give him a long-term shot he’s earned at this point, but for now, this is probably the right move.
The Twins have been maddeningly inconsistent in their roster maneuvering this season, sometimes understanding the long-term needs of a rebuilding club and other times being way off the mark. They’ve been perfectly right to give lots of opportunities to older, non-prospects in a awful rotation and to give guys like Mastroianni shots on the bench. But they need to be more consistent. While that doesn’t mean not calling up Parmelee right now is an error, it does mean that if guys like Deduno get a shot, so should Vazquez. He’s earned it.