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Meet: Erubiel Durazo

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Can he provide some help?

Let's get something straight:  Erubiel Durazo isn't the solution.  He's not a silver bullet, he's not a juggernaut (bitch) and in fact he's not even with the Twins yet.  Rochester has him for now.  What Durazo does provide is a relatively inexpensive bench solution.  At 32 he's had few chances to be an everyday player, but in spite of this posts a career .281/.381/.487 line.  It's not intimidating, but it's solid.

Right now, solidarity could solve a few issues.  He's a better backup first baseman than Terry Tiffee, if not defensively definitely because of his proven ability to hit major league pitching.

Like any inexpensive rose, the thorns are a little thick.  He hasn't seen major league pitching in over a year, since being placed on the DL by the Athletics last summer.  This year he'd been signed, released, signed and released by the Texas Rangers before signing a minor league contract with the New York Yankees in May.  Now, he's with the Twins.  What's been the problem?

Durazo's 2006 Minor League Numbers

Team       AB  H 2B HR RBI BB SO  Avg   Obp   Slg
Texas      76 22  5  2  12  9 12 .289  .365  .434
New York   62 18  2  2  10 11 12 .290  .400  .419
Minnesota   7  4  2  0   1  1  2 .571  .625  .857
Totals    145 44  9  4  23 21 26 .303  .392  .448

As you can see he hasn't done poorly.  So why can't he stick?  In Texas he was put on the DL May 9, and besides, Texas didn't have a need for him with Mark Teixeira entrenched at first base and Kevin Mench getting all the at-bats as a designated hitter.  New York has Andy Phillips, who came on strong in May and June before hitting poorly this month.  Their designated hitter is Jason Giambi, and he's definitely not being displaced.

In addition, Durazo's contract with the Rangers included a clause that stated he was allowed free agency if he wasn't on the Major League roster by a certain date.  I'm not sure if this was the case with the Yankees, but I do know that in the offseason there were talks that Durazo may not be ready to play until the middle of 2006 after the elbow issues from last summer.  Whatever the case, Durazo's fragility has been a problem, in practice and in contract talks.

With his third team of the year, Durazo may have his best chance to see playing time.  A rash of injuries and a lack of reliable bench hitters creates about a perfect of situation as he could ask for.  Really...as perfect of a situation as the Twins and we as fans could ask for.  We have a professional hitter who is far and away a better hitter than anyone on our bench, save perhaps Mike Redmond.

Career Numbers

Year    Age   AB    H  2B  HR   Avg   Obp   Slg
1999     25  155   51   4  11  .329  .422  .594
2000     26  196   52  11   8  .265  .373  .444
2001     27  175   47  11  12  .269  .372  .537
2002     28  222   58  12  16  .261  .395  .550
2003     29  537  139  29  21  .259  .374  .430
2004     30  511  164  35  22  .321  .396  .523
2005     31  152   36   6   4  .237  .306  .368
Career      1948  547 108  94  .281  .381  .487

Conclusions

I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that Erubiel Durazo can do more good for the Twins actally with the Twins as opposed to with the Red Wings.  Terry Tiffee continues sub-mediocre offensive performances.  While there are also 12 pitchers on the active roster, there's also not a lot of room for pitchers back in Rochester.  Luis Rodriguez, who hasn't been playing much recently, is too valuable being able to play the entire left side of the infield.  If you make the move, you move Tiffee.

Erubiel Durazo can provide help in the form of a reliable bench hitter and occasional spot starter for Justin Morneau.  He can even get at-bats as a designated hitter until the outfield gets healthy (cross your fingers).  He's not Kevin Mench or Alfonso Soriano or Aubrey Huff, but he's an improvement over what we have.  That's a move in the right direction.