There's no secret that Sergio Romo is a fan favorite around here. Dude can pitch. In fact, it's safe to say that he's the Official Mustachioed Low Arm Slot Reliever of McCovey Chronicles. That might seem like a superficial title, but once he puts on the orange velvet jacket that comes with it, he'll know the true meaning of it all.
Unfortunately, Romo is hurt. I'm no doctor, but it might have had to do with the 723 innings he's pitched between the minors, majors, and winter ball over the past year. I'll have an intern look into it. Romo will be back at the end of April or early May, and he should have a spot in the bullpen. But that means someone gets demoted, designated or released. Or it means that they don't get a chance to be Bret Michael's love slave for a year. I can't remember. It's all so confusing.
The candidates to make room for Romo:
His minor league stats aren't very impressive -- his major league ERA over 151 innings is almost a full run lower. He looks like a viable back-end-of-the-bullpen guy, though. Both of his 2009 innings suggest that he's here to stay! A sinkerballer with some long relief experience is a pretty good fit for this bullpen.
I thought that I read he was unwilling to accept an assignment to Fresno, but I can't find verification on that. That would be a bold ultimatum to make when you had to settle for a minor league contract in the first place. If there's a reason for taking him off the roster, it's that he's never been very impressive at any level. That's kind of a big reason.
When he was healthy from 11:03 a.m. to 12:31 p.m. on April 10th last year, he looked like a fantastic relief arm. Bochy seems to think he's healthy enough to handle multiple innings, and there's no questioning his stuff. We'll wring value out of the Russ Ortiz deal yet! The only reason to send him to Fresno is if he needed to take his time coming back from injury.
The guy leads the team in wins. How could they send someone like that down? A plus-control guy with a sinker and a hint of prospect sheen is a great choice for mop-up/spot starter. There is a case to be made for letting him get innings in AAA, though. Medders would probably come close to Martinez's performance, and neither would get enough innings in the last-man role to make a huge difference either way.
Hoppin' fastball. Dynamic, sharp-breaking curve. All from the left side. Awesome, awesome potential. No idea where it's going. The only reason I don't think Hinshaw is the guaranteed victim of a Romo return is that he's the second lefty in the pen. Giants roster statute 143.5.12 C states that "All rosters must have two lefties in the bullpen, regardless of quality." This is the Alvin Morman Rule, and isn't very ambiguous. It might even be more applicable with Jeremy Affeldt more of a full-inning guy than a LOOGY.
There they are, in all their glory. Last couple of sentences aside, I still think Hinshaw is the one to go. Bochy's used him twice now, and both appearances have almost seemed like a test. Here, kid -- here's a non-crucial situation, so see what you can do. He looked great last night, but "looking great" for Hinshaw still involves copious amounts of wonky control.