Surprisingly Jason Bartlett has made the Minnesota Twins opening day roster. He hit .083 in 39 plate appearances this spring, but this was enough for Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire to bring him north to Target Field.
According to Gardenhire, the 34-year-old Bartlett will help make the clubhouse more loose and provide leadership because he’s a winner. The fact Bartlett hasn’t played a game in the minors or the majors since May 14, 2012 apparently isn’t important. Fans reacted to the Bartlett news on Twitter with disdain for the Twins and how performance seems to have taken a backseat when it comes to the opening day roster.
Unfortunately debating Bartlett’s merit is what happens when a team’s payroll is only $89 million. Just six teams have a lower payroll going into the 2014 season. Remember the 2009 Minnesota Twins of “Game 163” fame and the final Twins team to play in the Metrodome? Their payroll was also $89 million.
Target Field was supposed to bring an increased payroll to the Twins, but it hasn’t happened and fans are frustrated. This frustration isn’t just about Jason Bartlett taking a roster spot he doesn’t deserve or a low payroll. It’s about a team that has made mistake after mistake for the past five plus years: A poor Johan Santana trade, Torii Hunter leaves, team leader Michael Cuddyer departs, an excellent shortstop in J.J. Hardy is traded for nothing, pitching has been allowed to deteriorate to an embarrassing level, Ben Revere is traded for Vance Worley who is then released, Francisco Liriano is traded for a backup infielder and then finds success with the Pirates, the team strikes out in record numbers and in turn rarely K’s opposing batters, and finally Justin Morneau is traded for Alex Presley who was waived this week.
Now add on a payroll that is far below what is should be and then giving roster spots to Jason Bartlett and Jason Kubel who did little to earn them. The Minnesota Twins are in trouble. Attendance has slid backwards in four of the past five seasons and attendance this season is projected to possibly fall below the final year in the Metrodome.
Having Jason Bartlett on the major league roster isn’t the problem, but it’s a symptom of a larger issue… complacency.