• Why isn't Jamey Carroll playing?

    In 2012 infielder Jamey Carroll played in 138 games (second-most of his career) and racked up a career-high 537 plate appearances. He was the Opening Day shortstop but that was the position that he played the third-most. He played 66 games at second base, 44 games at third base and 37 games at shortstop. Through 13 games in 2013, Jamey Carroll has made just two starts and has a total of nine plate appearances. Why has his role been so diminished to start this season? I think there are a few potentially good reasons.

    Did Carroll’s skills diminish in 2012? At first glance, looking at just his .660 OPS in 2012, we see a drop from .718 and .706 in 2010 and 2011, respectively. However, his Isolated Discipline (OBP – BA) of .075 was better than 2012 (.069). For his career, his Isolated Discipline is .078. In other words, his approach at the plate was right on par with his career. His 2012 Isolated Power (SLG – BA) was .049. A year earlier, that number was .057 and for his career, it is .067. So, his “power” dropped slightly from not-very-much to even-less. The .022 drop in batting average accounted for .044 drop in OPS by itself. Considering that he got off to such a slow start (hitting .214 in April), he was himself the rest of the season.

    The summary of the previous paragraph is that it was clear that Carroll’s production drop in 2012 was more related to a couple of hits falling (or not falling) in over the course of the season rather than a fundamental flaw in his approach.



    The Twins have committed to giving every opportunity to 26-year-old Trevor Plouffe at third base, 26-year-old Pedro Florimon at shortstop and 25-year-old Brian Dozier at second base. The primary utility player at this stage of the season has been 24-year-old Eduardo Escobar. As much as the Twins say aloud that 2013 is about winning, it makes much sense for the rebuilding organization to play the younger guys as much as possible, ahead of the 39-year-old Jamey Carroll.

    One side aspect of this situation is that Carroll is a terrific person and happy to teach. He can be a strong influence on the younger players offensively and defensively. Carroll is as steady as it gets with the glove. His demeanor is exemplary on and off the field. He has kept himself in great playing shape throughout his career. And offensively, Carroll remains one of the more patient hitters on the roster.

    Is it possible that a large percentage of Carroll’s lack of playing time is money-related as well? He is making $3.75 million in 2013. It is the second year of his 2 year, $6.5 million contract. However, the contract comes with a $2 million club option for 2014 that the Twins could consider picking up. It becomes a player option if he reaches 401 plate appearances.

    That is a number he has reached in each of the past three seasons. However, in the previous seven full seasons before 2010, he reached that number just twice. Since he is a prototypical #2 hitter, if he were playing most days, he would average about 4.2 plate appearances per start. He would need about 96 starts to eclipse that mark. If he continues to get just nine plate appearances for every 13 games, he would end the season with fewer than 120 plate appearances.

    At some point during the season, an infielder may get hurt and need to miss 15 to 20 games. Would the Twins start Carroll or Escobar in that situation? My assumption today would be that most of those starts would go to Carroll. Escobar really profiles to be the next in a long line of solid, long-term utility infielders like Al Newman, Jeff Reboulet, Denny Hocking and Nick Punto.

    No one is feeling sorry for Jamey Carroll. The author of this article and most of those reading it would give just about anything to sit on the end of a Major League Baseball bench and still make $3.75 million for the year.
    Carroll has had about as good of a career as a guy can have who didn't debut in the big leagues until he was 28 years old. He has over 10 years of service time and has earned the respect of his peers around the game of baseball. I had the opportunity to briefly meet Carroll at Twins Fest and he is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He acknowledged that he has a goal to play in the big leagues as a 40 year old. He will turn 40 as spring training is starting next year.

    It may be as simple as the Twins are going to play those young guys and give them a lot of rope to start the season. That’s completely understandable on a rebuilding team with some terrific prospects on the way but which still has to determine which of these current young players warrant a spot on future Twins teams.

    It may be as simple as trying to get out from needing to pay Carroll $2 million in 2014, although that is a very fair rate for a quality utility infielder in baseball.

    It is also possible that, despite Carroll’s work ethic, his skills had diminished enough to notice in spring training and he simply is not considered the player that he was within the organization.

    Who knows? Maybe there is something else going on all together.
    This article was originally published in blog: Why isn't Jamey Carroll playing? started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 39 Comments
    1. B Richard's Avatar
      B Richard -
      Thanks a bunch Seth, I've been wondering about this. I personally have no issue giving some young guys a chance to develop/prove themselves. As an older guy in a utility role, you have to understand that this is a possibility. Wish Jamey the best though, I really like the guy.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      Great points, Seth. Still, I'm really not concerned about what they do with Carroll. We've arguably gotten everything and more we could have expected out of him, but he's a career utility guy and even if he were demonstrably better than Florimon/Escobar/Dozier, there's no reason to play Carroll as a starter and wear him down, when he can't be a part of the future. The three other alternatives likely won't be, either, but at least they have a chance of claiming a role as utility players here or elsewhere, as Carroll did for many years as a late bloomer.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Frankly, I am amazed that he still is with the team (and not traded.) The Twins are rebuilding, he is 39. He is just a luxury as a 39 year old utility player who makes close to $4 M a season for a team that went 99 + 96. Not much of a middle infield pipeline in the high minors (other than Beresford and Santana who are not ready, all middle infielders in AAA and AA are older minor league free agents,) but there are 3 UT guys already on the 25-man roster and I think that this team is better with Colabello on the bench instead of a 4th UT guy...
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      In all fairness, Escobar as played in 9 games (mostly after Florimon has been PH for) with 3 starts and Carroll has played in 5 games with 2 starts. Considering they have only played 13 games that isn't enough of a difference to extrapolate anything.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      I think Carroll ends up playing a lot of second base but it's too early to give up on Dozier. For now, I don't have a problem with Escobar/Floriman getting most of the starts at short stop.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      I hope when his playing days are over ,management is smart enough to keep Jaime around as a coach.....Good player, good attitude, good guy,and according to Dozier already a good coach
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      One would have to think the vesting option plays some part in the decision. His AB's could be suppressed now with the expectation that both middle infielders and Trevor Plouffe are far from proven. Unproductiveness or injury could press him into an every day job again at some point.

      I wonder if the Twins have had any discussion with Toronto about Carroll? They have had injuries and defensive issues in their middle infield and they've been looking for SS help since Reyes went down. Of course it's possible the suddenly big pocket Blue Jays are setting their sights higher than Carroll.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      I think he's kind of a player-coach at this stage, helping the other middle infielders learn the tricks of the trade when he's not playing. That said, he's also good depth in case of a complete implosion by one of the inexperienced guys. Considering their track records, I'd like to hang onto him for depth in addition to his mentoring role.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      I know one thing, I'd hire Jamey Carroll for darn near what he's making now to teach guys like Miguel Sano how to use that leather thing on their left hand to stop that little white ball from getting past them. Carroll's got one of the best gloves I've seen in awhile, and his overall baseball savvy reminds me of Nick Punto.

      Guys like that should be paid good money to transfer their top-flight baseball knowledge to as many young pups as possible.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I think there is a simple answer to the original question. The other guys are in need of a trial whereas Jamey Carroll is Mr. Dependable. And they know they are going to depend on him at some point this year. It probably has nothing to do with 401 plate appearances and the obsession around here about this is laughable.
    1. benchwarmerjim's Avatar
      benchwarmerjim -
      I think the snowouts have affected his playing time. Both have come on 'getaway' games where Gardy likes to insert some of his bench players into the starting lineup.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      It probably has nothing to do with 401 plate appearances and the obsession around here about this is laughable.
      Agreed. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Twins exercised that 2014 option even if he falls short of 401 PA (assuming he wants to continue playing).
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      I think there's a reason those clauses are put into contracts and to say for 100% certain they're meaningless when it comes to determining playing time is laughable. If Ryan tells Gardy he doesn't want Carroll's option to vest, Gardy better make sure he isn't in the lineup long enough to reach the vesting goal.

      I doubt that's what is going on here, but still...it's not out of the realm of possibility.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      The Twins just cut $30+ million from their payroll. They chose to pursue cheap FA's (Pitching) or no FA's (cf, 2B, SS, 3B). Their reasoning was players were either too expensive or asking for to many years.

      It seems to me that the Twins want control over whether to exercise Carroll's 2014 contract because of both the money and the length of contract. Perhaps there are on the field factors as well but it seems clear the money is a part of it too.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      The Twins just cut $30+ million from their payroll. They chose to pursue cheap FA's (Pitching) or no FA's (cf, 2B, SS, 3B). Their reasoning was players were either too expensive or asking for to many years.

      It seems to me that the Twins want control over whether to exercise Carroll's 2014 contract because of both the money and the length of contract. Perhaps there are on the field factors as well but it seems clear the money is a part of it too.
      He's 39 years old. He's already a major outlier on the age/performance bell curve. Having an option on his 40th year seems prudent to me.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      If there is a concern with the vesting option on the Twins part, I'm sure it has nothing to do with money and everything to do with the roster spot. They have Escobar, Dozier and Florimon under control and on the team right now, they possibly will be looking at Santana next year and if Rosario goes the Arcia route, he'd be in the mix too.
    1. Twins Twerp's Avatar
      Twins Twerp -
      Because they don't want to be on the hook for a broken hip surgery.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      He's 39 years old. He's already a major outlier on the age/performance bell curve. Having an option on his 40th year seems prudent to me.
      Agreed. I'm saying the Twins don't want it to turn into a player option. I think in addition to on the field reasons (like he's turning 40 and his production might very well dip accordingly) there are equally strong roster and monetary reasons for it.

      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      If there is a concern with the vesting option on the Twins part, I'm sure it has nothing to do with money and everything to do with the roster spot. They have Escobar, Dozier and Florimon under control and on the team right now, they possibly will be looking at Santana next year and if Rosario goes the Arcia route, he'd be in the mix too.
      How can you say this when the team has cut payroll by $30+ million and refused to sign decent FA's because of money concerns? I'm not saying money is the only reason but how can you think money IS NOT a reason?
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      There are a lot of variables in play regarding Carroll's role, and Seth covered them well. I don't think any of them can be ignored, in particular the vesting clause, but no single one of them is a sole cause for anything either. He's in the mix, and it's still early in the season, that's all.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      It's 2 million bucks. Full stop.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.