"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Restovich Conundrum

If I worked for the Twins' marketing department, I'd be tearing my hair out over Michael Restovich right about now. "Resto" is a ready-made fan favorite, a handsome Minnesota boy with an aw-shucks grin and a power swing. That power swing, coupled with a good glove in the outfield, have made him a bright light in the organization for several years.

Back in the bad ol' days when the Twins routinely sucked, he would have become our everyday right fielder as soon as he proved he could hack it in AA. But these last three years, bountiful with division championships and talented outfielders, have seen him stalled in AAA, waiting for a chance and steadily whittling down his store of options.

Now he's out of options, slowly recovering from an offseason injury to his throwing shoulder and having an unimpressive spring for a team that probably only has room for a left-handed bat on the bench (Resto bats right). If put on waivers for yet another stint in AAA, he will surely be claimed by another organization less rife with right-handed outfielders and in need of a young, inexpensive power threat in their lineup.

He's done nothing this spring to make himself indispensable to the Twins, and after a lousy showing at Rochester last year (fueled no doubt by the futility and boredom of a third season at AAA) the Twins will have a hard time justifying keeping him on the roster over other players with such advantages as a good spring or a left-handed swing.

On the other hand, the left-handed hitter most likely to make the team in his place, Eric Munson, is batting a horrifying .184 on the spring, nearly a hundred points below Resto's spring average. There's also switch-hitting Terry Tiffee in the mix; while no outfielder, he hits well and can play first and third. Tiffee's chances would be better if the Twins didn't already have two utility infielders and a spare first baseman/catcher.

Now, I'm one of those people who thinks the signing of Juan Castro was a big mistake best rectified by putting him on waivers and hoping someone bites, thereby allowing Resto and either Munson or Tiffee to make the team. But we all know that's about as likely as a hurricane on Lake Minnetonka.

I believe we'll be bidding Restovich farewell in a week or two, for I simply cannot conceive of a baseball universe in which a 26-year-old power-hitting outfielder with a made-for-TV face and a cannon for an arm could actually clear waivers. And it might be the best thing for him, to go somewhere with fewer established outfielders where he'll have a real chance to carve out an everyday place for himself. But I'll be sad to see him go; the Twins overcome their tiny payroll by hoarding cheap talent, and that instinct toward miserliness trickles down to us fans as well, making us loath to see such promise slip away with no return on our investment. We get all twitchy and weird.

Just please, please, don't let him go to the Damn Yankees or the Whine Sox. Please. Anything but that.

0 rejoinders: