The Texas Rangers have claimed outfielder Joe Benson off waivers, as the Twins lose an incredible athlete who just couldn't figure things out at the plate.
The Twins had placed Benson on waivers in order to outright him off their 40-man roster and thus clear a spot for righthander P.J. Walters, who started on Saturday.
Twins assistant General Manager Rob Antony called Benson on Saturday to inform him of the move, and said Benson thanked the organization for everything it has done for him.
``He was upbeat over the phone,'' Antony said. ``I think he views this as a fresh start.''
Benson, a second-round pick in 2006, was the Twins' minor league player of the year in 2010 and made his major league debut in 2011. Last season became a lost season as Benson had surgeries on his wrist and knee and batted just .179 at Class AAA Rochester and .184 at Class AA New Britain.
He reported to camp with a chance of winning the starting center field job but lost out to Aaron Hicks. He went back to Rochester but hit just .192 with one homer and nine RBI in 42 games.
Benson is a physical specimen. When he squares up a ball, it can travel a long way. But he's struggled to make contact.
``We've been waiting on that last tool,'' Antony said.
Benson also hasn't handled failure well. He missed a chunk of the 2009 season with a broken hand after he punched a fence in frustration.
Those who know him well say he's a fantastic person - when he's not trying to hit a baseball.
``I think Joe is too hard on himself,'' Brad Steil, the Twins' director of minor leagues, said on Friday. ``He has a little bit of trouble adjusting to all the offspeed stuff he's seeing in Triple-A and I think he's pressing.
``He wants to do well. He's been successful for a long time in the minors. They figured out a weakness in Triple-A and they have exploited it and he has to make the adjustment.''
Two things to keep in mind with this move. 1. Benson was going to be a six-year minor league free agent after the season and, the way he was playing, the Twins weren't going to bring him back. Two, Benson almost slipped through waivers, as the Rangers were 28th in the pecking order. That shows what teams think of him right now. Good luck to him. I hope he figures it out.
Interesting story in the Detroit Free Press today. The Tigers have not had a ten-game losing streak in ten seasons. The Twins have have two ten-game losing streaks in the last three years. And, if they lose today, they will match the 11-game losing streak they endured in September of 2011.
They'll really need P.J. Walters, making his season debut today, to give them at least six solid innings. But Twins pitchers have done that just five times since May 2. In fact, Twins starters enter today having thrown the fewest innings of any team in baseball, a product of that run of few six-inning outings. Twins starters have a 5.77 ERA, the highest in baseball.
While Walters starts here, Kyle Gibson is scheduled to start for Class AAA Rochester tonight against Charlotte.
Oswaldo Arcia was optioned to Class AAA Rochester to make room for Walters. Technically, Walters has not been added to the 40-man roster yet. We're waiting to see who comes off to make room for him. I heard rumblings a couple days ago that it could be outfielder Joe Benson, but we'll see.
Another interesting story in the Free Press: The city could file for bankruptcy. The city is $15-17 billion in debt, and today's story was about debate on if the city should sell it's world-class art collection to help with the debt. Sad...
Joe Mauer is batting .397 this month, second best in the AL. And what came to light last night is that Mauer is now the leading active hitter in baseball with a .324 batting average. Albert Pujols and Ichiro have tailed off since 2009, allowing Mauer to pass them recently. The list:
1. Mauer, .324
2. Albert Pujols, .323
3. Ichiro, .3208
4. Miguel Cabrera, .3205
5. Joey Votto, .319
Kevin Correia was originally scheduled to start today but the Twins went with Walters and moved Correia back to Monday at Milwaukee. Pitching coach Rick Anderson said it gives Correia, who leads the team with 57.2 innings pitched, a little extra rest.
1. Jamey Carroll, 2B
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Josh Willingham, LF
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5, Chris Colabello, DH
6. Chris Parmelee, RF
7. Wilkin Ramirez, CF
8. Eduardo Escobar, 3B
9. Pedro Florimon, SS
Pitching: P.J. Walters, RHP
1. Andy Dirks, LF
2. Torii Hunter, RF
3. Miggy, 3B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. V-Mart, DH
6. Johnny Peralta, SS
7. Brayan Pena, C
8. Omar Infante, 2B
9. Don Kelly, CF
Pitching: Doug Fister, RHP