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  • Where Does Carroll Fit In?

    During the first half of the season, Jamey Carroll seemed to be showing his age. By the All-Star break, he was hitting .234 with a brutal .597 OPS, and he had long since lost his job as the team's starting shortstop. He was certainly making his two-year, $6.5 million contract look like a poor investment.

    Since the break, Carroll has looked more like the player the Twins thought they were getting. After finishing 2-for-5 in the nightcap of yesterday's doubleheader, the veteran is now hitting .306/.369/.361 since the Midsummer Classic, a line that compares favorably against his .290/.368/.344 output over the two seasons prior.

    Even though he hasn't been able to authoritatively claim any position this year, Carroll has clearly been one of Ron Gardenhire's go-to guys, as he ranks fifth on the team with 518 plate appearances. And his production over the past few months has warranted the tread he's gotten. Even though he lacks any semblance of power and he's not a spectacular defender, a .750 OPS from a middle infielder is none too shabby.

    So how will Carroll figure into next year's plans? Presently, the team lacks solidity at either middle-infield spot, and relatively speaking, he looks like a pretty appealing option. Then again, it appears that the manager has lost faith in his abilities at shortstop, given that he drawn only nine starts at the position since losing his regular job there in early May.

    There's another dynamic in play when assessing Carroll's 2013 role. He has a 2014 option in his contract that becomes guaranteed if he reaches 401 plate appearances next year. Granted, that option is only for $2 million, but he'll be 40 years old in '14 and he's already shown signs of decline this year in spite of his strong second half.

    What do you think? Should the Twins move forward planning on having Carroll as their starter at second (or even short) next year with the hopes that his post-break performance is a sign of things to come? Or should they keep him in a utility role, hoping to fill the middle-infield spots with younger players that are potential building blocks, while at the same time improving their chances of avoiding that 2014 option?
    This article was originally published in blog: Where Does Carroll Fit In? started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 34 Comments
    1. one_eyed_jack's Avatar
      one_eyed_jack -
      Good question. We'll have to see what happens in the offseason, but I'd say bring him back in a utility role, and maybe try to deal him at the deadline. We won't get much for him, but reliable veteran guys like that often draw interest from contenders.

      I kind of cringed when we signed Carroll, but I've come to appreciate him. He may not be the most talented guy, but he's a true professional. Regardless of the situation or the score, he plays hard, and he plays smart.

      I wish we could put Carroll's attitude and ethic into Casilla's body.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I am not sure why he lost favor at SS. He was good enough there. I think his role is utility, and we should hope so, because that likely means that Dozier and Florimon have been successful in the middle infield. Carroll filling in for injured players and backing up all three of those infield spots will get him enough playing time to keep his value high, but probably keep his PAs in the 300-350 range.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Carroll is what he is. He's never had a regular position and he shouldn't even with the last place err....fourth place Twins. His maximum playing time should be as a "10th regular" filling in at all three infield spots.

      I think Carroll has been decent in the field and just a tick above what I expected with the bat. He is void of extra-base sock and he'll be 39 next season, but, on balance, he's been the Twins best middle infielder.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      I was pretty "meh" about the Carroll signing when it happened and still feel that way. He's a decent bench/complementary player but nothing more than that. He's the type of piece a contender needs to keep the MI fresh through a long season.

      But I'm glad he was able to dispel the silly notion some had where he'd suddenly stop taking walks because he moved to the AL and no longer hits in front of the pitcher.
    1. SarasotaBill's Avatar
      SarasotaBill -
      Carroll has been the best middle infielder.

      It should be Carroll and Florimon to start next year.

      Dozier and Escobar to start in AAA.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      The only thing Florimon "should" be is a reason for the team to look at potential upgrades.


      I've been having a lot of trouble wrapping my head around the penciling in of Florimon, not only for a roster spot, but a starting spot no less. What am I missing?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      A middle infielder who makes pretty much all the routine plays and can post a .730 OPS... that's not exactly bad, and as of right now, what is the better option? I think he's been a very solid contributor, even with the bat. He's just a consummate professional out there. And, if he gets the playing time next season to guarantee 2014, good for him. Plus, it's only $2M which is very reasonable even if he does become "just a utility guy."
    1. COtwin's Avatar
      COtwin -
      Haven't we been in this situation for like 6 of the last 8 years. Carroll is a utility infielder. He is capable of producing at the plate, but we are seeing his ceiling right now. So what if he is performing now. When he was handed a starting role, he helped kill the season, and now that he has zero pressure he is producing. Pass. He should not become a lock for even second base anytime soon. He should need to compete for his job next year. Dozier, Florimon, Escobar, and Carroll are very similar in my mind. Yes, the last two can play third, but that doesn't make them worthy of a scholarship. I would rather give Dozier and Florimon a chance to start the year, with Escobar or Carroll as utility. I have a difficult time trusting that Carroll will produce at this level consistently next year. My two sense
    1. SeanS7921's Avatar
      SeanS7921 -
      Trying to understand why Carroll is an average fielder? Is UZR for his career which is extensive is way above average at 2B and 3B. At 2nd he has fielded over 4500+ innings which is a great sample size. He is excellent at 2B. He is average at SS and this year he has fielded the position above average. Combine that with a decent average and OBP and he is a pretty solid guy to have around for the price. Starting 2B or playing wherever needed should be 100%.
    1. OldManWinter's Avatar
      OldManWinter -
      Carroll has some timely hits, does not usually beat himself. Smart-steady-stable is not a bad thing to add to a young infield.

      Don't make it over complicated, if he gets enough plate appeareances next next year to guarantee a third year it will be because he earned them.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by OldManWinter View Post
      Carroll has some timely hits, does not usually beat himself. Smart-steady-stable is not a bad thing to add to a young infield.

      Don't make it over complicated, if he gets enough plate appeareances next next year to guarantee a third year it will be because he earned them.
      Agreed.
    1. nokomismod's Avatar
      nokomismod -
      Quote Originally Posted by SarasotaBill View Post
      Carroll has been the best middle infielder.

      It should be Carroll and Florimon to start next year.

      Dozier and Escobar to start in AAA.
      I'd be okay with this. Maybe swap Florimon and Escobar and let Dozier and Florimon earn a spot on the big league team with good play at Rochester.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      A middle infielder who makes pretty much all the routine plays and can post a .730 OPS... that's not exactly bad, and as of right now, what is the better option? I think he's been a very solid contributor, even with the bat. He's just a consummate professional out there. And, if he gets the playing time next season to guarantee 2014, good for him. Plus, it's only $2M which is very reasonable even if he does become "just a utility guy."
      This is what I was saying in the thread about Florimon potentially being the opening day shortstop.

      Florimon obviously has the range and the arm, but he's got a bit of "stone hands" to him... I've seen far too many routine groundballs clank off of him. And I don't think Florimon will ever be as good offensively as Carroll.

      I think Carroll will get enough plate appearances, by hook or by crook, to earn that 2014 option. And if he does, keep in mind that a) it's a player option, so there's a chance he'd rather retire at that point, and b) if he still wants to play, he might rather go play for another team by then.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by COtwin View Post
      I have a difficult time trusting that Carroll will produce at this level consistently next year. My two sense
      Even though he has done it for a lot of years? That's the definition of consistency.
    1. COtwin's Avatar
      COtwin -
      Quote Originally Posted by OldManWinter View Post
      Carroll has some timely hits, does not usually beat himself. Smart-steady-stable is not a bad thing to add to a young infield.

      Don't make it over complicated, if he gets enough plate appeareances next next year to guarantee a third year it will be because he earned them.
      I am going to have to disagree on that point. Through the first four months of the year Carroll's AB/OPS. April-84/.570, May-87/.607, June-80/.710, July- 71/.506. Without June in there he was close to a .560 OPS, pathetic. Even with June it was only around .600. How is that earning AB? True he does play good defense, but we have some young guys that do ok in the field. Dozier, Florimon, and Escobar could all end up as utility types, or maybe one breaks through. We won't know if Carroll takes 500 ABs next year. To answer Nick's original question, Carroll fits in on a team that is trying for the playoffs, as a high AB utility guy. Which we are definitely not.
    1. Twins Twerp's Avatar
      Twins Twerp -
      He needs to be used as a Nick Punto. No way should he be an everyday player at any position. His productivity this year is below average, and the dude is going to be 40. He is going to slip. His defense is OK, better than the younger guys, but average in relativity to the rest of the league. IMO, we will sign/trade for a shortstop or second baseman next year. Dozier/Floriman/Escobar will start at the other postion, and Carrol will be a bench player, which he should be.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      New team, new league, new pitchers, new manager, new role (starting SS). I think it just took him a while to learn all of the above. Plus, I think he's more comfortable when the spotlight doesn't shine so brightly on him as starting SS. He's the utility player Gardy always wanted: + infielder at multiple positions who can hit as well as a starter.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      But I'm glad he was able to dispel the silly notion some had where he'd suddenly stop taking walks because he moved to the AL and no longer hits in front of the pitcher.
      There might have been some people arguing that particular notion, but I think the more legitimate concern was that he'd have trouble maintaining his overall production while hitting in front of Joe Mauer as opposed to an NL pitcher. You just aren't going to get as many good pitches to hit in that setting. He's continued to control the strike zone well, but when batting in the No. 2 spot this year Carroll is hitting .250 with a .603 OPS – a sizable drop-off from his .700+ OPS in each of the past two years with the Dodgers. He's been better hitting at the bottom of the lineup, which is pretty clearly where he belongs.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      But I'm glad he was able to dispel the silly notion some had where he'd suddenly stop taking walks because he moved to the AL and no longer hits in front of the pitcher.
      There might have been some people arguing that particular notion, but I think the more legitimate concern was that he'd have trouble maintaining his overall production while hitting in front of Joe Mauer as opposed to an NL pitcher. You just aren't going to get as many good pitches to hit in that setting. He's continued to control the strike zone well, but when batting in the No. 2 spot this year Carroll is hitting .250 with a .603 OPS – a sizable drop-off from his .700+ OPS in each of the past two years with the Dodgers. He's been better hitting at the bottom of the lineup, which is pretty clearly where he belongs.
      Yeah, that is a legitimate concern. Hitting in front of Mauer, the pitcher is going to try his damnedest to get you out before facing the meat of the lineup. On the other hand, I think we can all agree that Jamey Carroll is not a #2 hitter, despite the fact that he plays second base. As strange as it sounds, I've heard that other teams don't automatically insert a middle infielder in the two-spot in the lineup.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by SeanS7921 View Post
      Trying to understand why Carroll is an average fielder? Is UZR for his career which is extensive is way above average at 2B and 3B. At 2nd he has fielded over 4500+ innings which is a great sample size. He is excellent at 2B. He is average at SS and this year he has fielded the position above average. Combine that with a decent average and OBP and he is a pretty solid guy to have around for the price. Starting 2B or playing wherever needed should be 100%.
      It's ironic, isn't it, that UZR requires a large sample size, but when it gets too large it's useless again. But it is.

      Looking at Carroll's career numbers when he's 39 years old tells us nothing about what he is now. I'm happy for him that he's been a good fielder for a decade or so, but he can't be coasting on his numbers from when he was 31.
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