• Twins Will Seek Competition For Trevor Plouffe

    Plouffe should be starting at third base next year, but who will be there if he isn't?In the TwinsCentric interview with Terry Ryan last week, (the 9-page entirety of which you can find in the 2013 Offseason Handbook), we asked about his confidence in Trevor Plouffe.

    John Bonnes: Are you comfortable with [Trevor] Plouffe at third base?

    Terry Ryan: Well, he needs some work too. Defensively, heís a work in progress.

    JB: He hasnít played that much at third base in the minors, right?

    TR: No, he hasnít, but heís and ex-shortstop and he should be able to make that transition.
    Because usually that would be an easier one that going from third to short.

    JB: Sure, itís a little lower on the defensive spectrum.

    TR: The ball gets there quicker and itís different angles and different throws and Ė thereís a lot thatís different. But, heís an infielder. He should be able to catch the ball. Heís got enough arm. His accuracy was difficult.

    So, weíve got to make a decision. Alright, is he going to take the next step forward? Heís got enough bat to play there. Heís got enough power to play there. Now itís whether heís going to be able to play that position so we donít have to worry about it defensively. Itís a work in progress.

    JB: But you havenít made that decision yet? Youíre not sureÖ

    TR: Heís coming in as the third baseman. Yes, he will. I need to create some competition over there though. And we will. And heís aware of that. Nothing wrong with competition.

    JB: Does that competition include Joe Mauer?

    TR: Nope. Iím going to create some competition, but I didnít say anything about Joe Mauer.

    JB: Iím just asking. Have you thought about or talked about Joe Mauer moving to third base?

    TR: No, I havenít. Some fans have, but I havenít.

    So the good news for Plouffe is that he is expected to have the job at the hot corner. The bad news is that the Twins are going to be hedging their bets this offseason.

    If the Twins are looking for competition, they had one such candidate this year, but Sean Burroughs became a free agent. Burroughs was an interesting option because he hit left-handed, and the right-handed hitting Plouffe still has a big split (911 OPS vs LHs/ 691 OPS vs RHs) against the more plentiful side of the rubber.

    Looking at the Offseason Handbook, there are a few other fairly inexpensive options that might make sense. Eric Chavez put up very good numbers for the Yankees, but the left-handed hitting 34-year-old only had 33 at-bats against southpaws. Itís not clear how affordable he could be, but if he canít get a job as a platoon player, a spot backing up an unproven guy like Plouffe could be a very nice option.

    Most of the other names one would recognize bat right-handed, but each has some other interesting traits. For instance, Brandon Inge used to play catcher. So instead of carrying Drew Butera as a 3rd catcher, Inge could fill in udring an emergency. He had shoulder surgery at the end of the season, but is expected to be recovered by spring training.

    Placido Polanco struggled this year, but he was also dealing with a back injury. In the past, the Twins have been rumored to be interested in him and the 37-year-old might be able to occasionally fill in at a middle infield spot. Meanwhile, another 37-year-old is rumored to be retiring, but the always intense Scott Rolen might be an interesting veteran to add to a clubhouse filled with kids.

    These arenít going to be moves that transform the Twins, nor should any of them be used as an excuse to overlook bigger issues. But this might be something to watch late in the offseason, when leftover free agents are searching around, or whenever news of a six-year minor league free agents signing trickles out.

    Whoever the Twins sign will hopefully be nothing more than an insurance policy as Plouffe shows he belongs as a full-time starter. Or, like Sam Deduno and PJ Walters, that obscure signing could play a much bigger role than anyone anticipates this winter.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Will Seek Competition For Trevor Plouffe started by John Bonnes
    Comments 33 Comments
    1. spideyo's Avatar
      spideyo -
      What about Youkilis or Izturis? Youkilis could be a right-handed bat at 1b (not that we need more 1b options), and Izturis could also cover SS and 2b, two spots where we are pretty uncomfortably thin.

      Really it's too bad Parmelee is left-handed, if he could bounce between 1b, 3b, and outfield it would make our lineup a lot more flexible
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      I doubt the Twins will pursue an over-the-hill veteran to compete with Plouffe. Rule out Chavez and Inge. I doubt they go with a righthanded hitter also. I mentioned Jack Hannahan in another thread--he hits lefty, has the rep as a good defender, I'm sure he's available for next to nothing and has a Minnesota connection. The only real drawback is that he's basically a one-position player.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      I'd be more inclined to believe Chavez' power was due to playing in a hitters park playing for a team that preaches agressive swings and being the percieved weak link in a frightening lineup and thus seeing a ton of hittable pitches.
    1. spideyo's Avatar
      spideyo -
      Maicer Izturis is 32 and can probably be had for relatively inexpensive (possibly a cheap incentive heavy deal). He can cover 2b, 3b, SS, switch hits, not the greatest power but he's got a bit of speed. Might not be the best available competition at 3b, but could also be competition at in the middle where we have no clear starters.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I do jot understand the interest in Inge. A platoon would be great, if they can find a cheap way to do it, and carry less pitching.
      A platoon is not in the cards. Offense isn't Plouffe's issue in the mind of TR , it's his defense more than anything else. So finding a good fielding player who can start for stretches that is inexpensive is the idea. Inge fits that to a T and he could be the third string catcher to boot. That opens up a spot on the roster for another player so there's more benefit.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by notoriousgod71 View Post
      I'm thinking Brian Buscher!
      We could call the resulting platoon "Plu-sher."

      Eh, Nick?
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      I don't know if I'm a fan of bringing in a slick-fielding no-hit 3b with VP. Sounds like a guy that will end up stealing a lot of at bats from Plouffe. I think they have some back-up options now, and a guy like Burroughs that can be stashed in AAA is the way to go. I don't see Plouffe failing enough to be replaced during the season though. He might not play well enough to be considered a long-term option, but I don't see him putting up less than a .700 OPS while playing acceptable defense.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      This is the same staff that thinks Hardy us not a good defender, correct? If they bring in a no hit fielding specialist, you know Gardy will play him. Ugh.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      Not sure I can agree with this, "The bad news is that the Twins are going to be hedging their bets this offseason." It seems pretty smart for the Twins to not assume the 27 year old Plouffe will suddenly become a solid MLer. He has some pop but his defense was horrible.
      I read it as meaning "bad news" from Plouffe's standpoint (in that his job isn't necessarily safe).
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by notoriousgod71 View Post
      I'm thinking Brian Buscher!
      While I would love to see a Brevor Plouscher platoon, there's no replacing the Harrischer.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      I would invest one more year in Plouffe. The reward of finding a contributing player with several years of team control is worth the risk that they will struggle in their first 1000 plate appearances.

      The Twins already have an aging offense. Signing decline phase players like many suggested in this thread will only add to the cycle of mediocrity.
    1. nokomismod's Avatar
      nokomismod -
      Thanks for asking TR about Mauer at 3rd. I think that makes the most sense personally (him platooning/putting pressure on Plouffe). I really hope Plouffe does some sort offseason 12 hour a day in a baseball cave learning how to play amazing defense thing though. I understand it's a long season, and you want some time to chill, but he could make some really good money down the road, if he fine tunes his skills.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by spideyo View Post
      Maicer Izturis is 32 and can probably be had for relatively inexpensive (possibly a cheap incentive heavy deal)
      I doubt he'd sign an incentive-laden deal. Those usually only go to guys coming off major injuries, and Izturis has played 100-plus games in each of the last two years which ain't bad for a utility guy.

      With that said, I actually find him pretty intriguing, especially if he can hack it at shortstop.
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