Monday, December 12, 2005

Angels DFA Paul -- Twins Glad to See Romero Go

To make room for newly acquired reliever J.C. Romero the Angels have designated catcher Josh Paul for assignment for the purpose of giving him is unconditional release. And that my friends is what happens to bone-headed back-up-catchers-that-don't-tag-batters-with-low-called-strike-three-balls- in-the-ALCS-but-instead-toss-it-to-the-mound-and-jog-off-the-field. So let that be a lesson for young you little leaguers out there.

In related news the LA Times had a report that the Minnesota Twins -- in particular manager Ron Gardenhire -- were not sad to see Romero go. Many had wondered why the Angels had acquired a front-line left-handed reliever for next-to-nothing and according to the Twins the Angels just bought themselves a head-case. Romero became more and more inconsistant and claimed he was 'disrespected' by the Twins. Gardenhire's response:
"That's bull," Gardenhire told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "If he wasn't being respected how did he get a two-year contract? Give me a break. I like J.C., but his mannerisms on the mound never changed. J.C. helped us get through a lot of things, but it is time for a change here."
So no love lost there. But to each story there is another side and Romero's is that he simply had an ill-defined role in Minnesota that left him out of sorts and not knowing when he would pitch.

"I never knew what I was going to do," said Romero, who will make $2.2 million in 2006. "One day I was a set-up man, one day I was a left-handed specialist, one day I was a long man, sometimes I didn't pitch for seven days. In 2002, my role was the seventh or eighth inning, I knew when I was going to go in, so I could prepare myself.

"The last two years, I had no clue when I would pitch, if I was going to pitch. I got out of my groove. I'm a guy who pitches better the more I pitch. I was inconsistent at times. That's my fault. My role changed. I couldn't adjust."
Presumably Romero's role in Anaheim will be extremely well defined. He knows he comes in as the #3 or #4 guy in the bullpen. Frankie closes, Shields and Donnelly set-up at the righties and Romero will set-up at the lefty. He may be used as a designated left-handed assassin from time-to-time but Romero should work regularly for the Angels and, I would guess, primarily in the 6th to 8th innings depending on the situation.

It sounds like the situation with the Twins was a communications issue. Minnesota managers are not known for their candor and I can see Gardenhire suddenly using Romero diffrently without feeling a need to explain it to him. Like his quote above says, in Gardy's mind the money showed that the Twins loved Romero and he should just be ready to pitch when needed. Period.

There are no more fragile psyches in sports than relief pitchers and as a former catcher I would expect Scioscia to be in tune with his pitcher's needs, even ones who need a little extra stroking. That is my Angel-fan wish anyway. It is possible that Romero will not work out any better for the Angels than he did for the Twins. But the potential reward of a season like Romero had in 2002 (9-2 with 1.89 ERA) is worth the minimal risk the Angels had to put forth.

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