One man's loss is another man's gain.
Baseball is a beautiful game, and the inability to predict with 100% accuracy what will happen is one of the reasons we keep coming back to it. You can make all the educated guesses you want, and the pundits can animatedly argue exactly why player A is superior to player B, but something always surprises us. Now, just like Alexi Casilla's blistering start to open his '08 campaign with the Twins came at just the right time, Brian Buscher has been coming up big in his brief stint.
He hasn't been around long, but thanks to ineffective play by Mike Lamb and a slight injury to Matt Macri, Buscher's staking his claim. With Brendan Harris getting a majority of the starts at shortstop and Nick Punto working his way back to the Twins on a rehab stint, Brian has been the only option. It's been great for him, but even better for the Twins, who have been the beneficiary of his run production near the bottom of the batting order. That is something that's been missing all season.
After his 2-for-4 afternoon on Sunday, Buscher is now batting .353/.351/.412 (the lower OBP is thanks to a pair of sac flies). While he's only taken a single walk in 34 at-bats and only put up a pair of doubles as extra-base hits, he's only struck out twice and has been making very good contact. It seems like every time he makes contact he's squaring up well and putting good wood on the ball. Additionally, the hits have been coming at opportune times, as he's collected 12 RBI in 10 games, in addition to the six runs he's scored.
In the field there isn't a whole lot that separates him from the competition who've logged innings at third for Minnesota this season. He has a good arm and has made some nice plays already, but his range isn't standout. Overall he's more than adequate, and considering what he's done for the offense to this point, that's more than good enough for an overall performance.
Mike Lamb, who remains on the active roster, still hasn't played since June 14th. With Nick Punto's impending return it will be interesting to see what happens. While the Twins have both time and money committed to Lamb, Buscher has the hot bat (the best one so far this year, really, even if it's a small sample size) and Punto has both versatility and better performance metrics than last season. He's also out-performed Lamb this year.
No matter what happens, given Punto's versatility, his standing within the organization and his relatively successful performance this season, once he's ready to return to the team I do believe a spot will be made available for him. The questions to me, then, are these: 1) Is Lamb's contract enough to protect his spot on the team? Or 2) does Buscher's performance, and similar defensive positions (both primary and secondary), make DFA'ing Lamb an option?