Demoting Kennys Vargas is perfectly understandable. Sure, he was hitting .347/.373/.510 since his three-game benching in late April, but the Twins have also played 17 games in that time. Vargas has started just 12 of them and hadn't started since Friday. If he wasn't playing every day when the club had a designated hitter position available, how often was he going to see action in a two-game series in Pittsburgh sandwiched by a pair of off-days?
So Vargas is sent to Rochester, where he'll play everyday and providing the middle of the Red Wings batting order with a good deal of power. He can't be recalled for at least ten days, which means the Twins have an opportunity to shake things up.
Okay, so activating Eduardo Nunez might not be the best way of achieving a shake-up, even if I can understand the reasoning. Nunez gives Minnesota more flexibility, as both he and Eduardo Escobar are capable of playing infield and outfield positions. Even Chris Herrmann can play a little outfield. Add in Shane Robinson, who can play all three outfield positions, and you get perhaps the largest, most versatile collection of outfielders in Major League Baseball.
Where's my sarcasm font?
Yes, the Twins now have a lot of flexibility on their four-man bench. And I didn't even bring up Doug Bernier. But this team is a bit of a featherweight when it comes to thundersticks. When this two-game series against the Pirates is over and the Twins head to The Cell to take on the White Sox on Friday, who will be Minnesota's designated hitter? That defensive versatility is wonderful, but this team can't continue to hand off plate appearances for an offense-exclusive position to guys like Nunez, Escobar, or Danny Santana. Bernier hasn't had a chance there yet, but I can feel it coming.
Sure, there are other options. Maybe Joe Mauer and Torii Hunter can take an extra DH start each per week, or maybe Oswaldo Arcia can take some of those starts too once he returns.
I'd rather see the Twins turn to Josmil Pinto. With Vargas on the roster, not to mention Mauer and Hunter, finding Pinto more than one start at designated hitter per week might be a stretch. Without Vargas on the roster, suddenly it's very easy to find ways to give Pinto five starts per week between those designated hitter plate appearances and spelling Kurt Suzuki behind the plate once or twice.
In 30 games for the Red Wings, Pinto is batting .286/.375/.411, and out of 12 stolen base attempts he's thrown out five runners (42%). He's also 26 years old. At some point leaving a guy in the minor leagues to brush up his game starts working against the player and against the team, and sooner or later that's going to happen to Pinto.
When Vargas is ready to return, sure - it could be harder to find Pinto playing time. If it comes to that, then it would be up to Paul Molitor to give Pinto the opportunity to out-hit and eventually out-play Suzuki. Should Pinto be unable to do so, the Twins could do worse than having him as the club's backup; if he does out-play Suzuki, the Twins could do worse than having Kurt as the club's backup. There does't seem like there's a lot to lose at this point.
Maybe I'm jumping the gun on something here. Mostly I'm just interested in seeing the best players on Minnesota's roster - especially when it's not just about getting experience, but actively making the Twins a better Major League team.