Last year, Rob Delaney pitched 80 innings at AAA, and struck out 92 batters. His 10.4 K/9 ratio ranks among the best in the entire Twins system. His 2.6 BB/9 ratio is excellent given that high strikeout rate. But he gave up too many hits, at a 9.2 H/9 rate, and it drove his ERA to 4.72; while I've watched Delaney and been excited by his 4.93 K/BB ratio in the minors, and his ability to regularly top 10 K/9 (he's done that at every level of the minors), the Twins have apparently been turned off by ... something. Maybe it's his ERA, or his win-loss record, or maybe they see something in his delivery and don't think he's for real.

They finally called him up to the majors, and they let him pitch one inning. He didn't do well: 1 inning, 2 hits, 1 homer, 1 run, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts. Obviously, that sample size is as small as it gets, and I wouldn't consider it wise to make a decision based on a single inning.

The Twins, though, designated Delaney for assignment yesterday, to make room on the 40-man roster. It's possible -- but I personally think it's unlikely -- that Delaney will pass through waivers and remain with the organization. The Twins had to be willing to risk losing Delaney in order to acquire the guy they did, so ideally it'd be worth that risk.

Dusty Hughes spent 2010 in Kansas City, earning the major league minimum. I suppose that's the generous way to describe his contribution to the Royals. He pitched 56 innings, with 5.4 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, and 9.4 H/9; that all added up to an unsustainably non-descript 3.83 ERA.

In his final year at AAA, his numbers were little better. 81 innings, 7.8 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, 8.1 H/9, and a 3.50 ERA. His career K/BB ratio in the minor leagues is 2 K/BB, but that's trended steadily downward as he's ascended through the ranks, bottoming at 1.7 K/BB in his two years at AAA -- still better than the 1.42 K/BB he had in the majors in 2010.

Here's what Rany Jazayerli had to say about Dusty Hughes in his Royals Report Card:

Probably the easiest grade on the entire roster. Everything about Dusty Hughes deserves a C grade, starting with the fact that he somehow spent the entire season on the roster without really making an impression on anyone.

He pitched in 57 games for the Royals, but judging from the way they used him, you’d think the only reason he was on the roster was because the Royals were too embarrassed to go without a lefty somewhere in their bullpen, and, well, Hughes was just standing there, so…

He wasn’t used in high-leverage situations at all; just eight times in those 57 games did he pitch in a situation where his “Leverage Index” was 2 or more, and just twice after the All-Star Break. He was kinda used as a lefty specialist, but not really – he faced right-handed batters 54% of the time. He was kinda effective against left-handed hitters, but not really – they batted .260/.351/.323 against him.

Hughes wasn’t bad, not really – he gave up a ton of baserunners (88 in just 56 innings), but minimized the damage by allowing just three homers. But he wasn’t good either. He wasn’t really anything. He was just there.

More power to him that he earned a full year’s worth of a major-league salary, and got a big contribution to his pension. But unless he takes a significant step forward – the easiest path being that he starts throwing more strikes – his job security is almost non-existent. I don’t know what Dusty Hughes really does for the Royals.

This is a particularly non-exciting move.

There are two things about Dusty Hughes that are the least bit interesting: he has an arm, and it's on the left side of his body.

While the Twins are currently desperate for bullpen arms, it'd be tough to find one more mediocre than this. Plus, they have Glen Perkins available as a lefty out of the pen; I know they don't like him, but is the plan to have him rot in AAA forever? Is he worse than Dusty Hughes? They also have Brian Duensing, who is fighting for a spot in the rotation but may ultimately find his best success in the bullpen. Is Hughes good enough to mix into the bullpen with Jose Mijares and Duensing? Is it more important to have three bullpen lefties, or to have as many talented arms as possible?

And that's what I have against the move; the only real complaint about it besides "this is pointless."

In their effort to bolster their collection of relievers, they risked losing a potentially-talented right handed reliever who could have helped them this year. In return, they got a decidedly-not-talented left handed reliever who could conceivably help them this year -- if by "help" you mean "turn a two run deficit into a four run deficit thirty or forty times." He certainly shouldn't pitch in close games; even the Royals knew that.

Will Dusty Hughes make the 25 man roster? Probably not. And if Delaney passes through waivers, this move will be promptly forgotten.

But ... I just don't see the point of doing it in the first place.

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27 January 2011