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  • 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. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      The better question: "Why WOULD Jamie Carroll be playing?"
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      The better question: "Why WOULD Jamie Carroll be playing?"
      Why, for the VP of course.
    1. Physics Guy's Avatar
      Physics Guy -
      Nice summary, Seth. The Twins are using Carroll exactly the way they should given the makeup of the roster. With all three of the young(er) guys on the roster, they should receive the majority of the time. Until Florimon or Dozier prove they shouldn't be starting, Gardy is doing exactly what he should, IMO. If one falters, I would think Escobar gets the next shot although I wouldn't blame Gardy for going with Carroll.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Well it probably has more to do with Florimon and Escobar hitting pretty good so far. Dozier has started slowly and has been benched because of it and Carroll got a start. I don't think the 2 million option is that big of a deal considering it is a 1 year contract at that point and the Twins have tons of payroll flexibilty moving forward into 2014. Dozier and Carroll are on par to be about the same player, dozier with more power and Carroll an on base guy. Neither spectacular but both are solid as long as Dozier develops which is the key to Carroll's playing time. That and injuries to players. I wonder if Carroll could play some CF the next few weeks to spell Hicks some?
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Like most major leaguers, he "could" play CF, and has played an inning an emergency once, but this is not what should be considered a plan.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      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
      Wait. What? The little Leprechaun is actually a closet Mexican? Or are you outing Carroll's hitherto unknown bilingual skills?
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      It's a sad state of affairs when almost everyone agrees that our best middle infielder should be on the bench most games because an inferior player needs playing time. The fact that this is happening only 12 games into the season is just depressing. It's going to be a long year when there is little hope to be had 2 weeks into the season.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I believe that Carroll is a guy who, at some point, will step into a starting role again. I do like the idea of having that veteran on the bench, but as others have said, Carroll is the best middle infielder. That said, I agree with the Twins giving the younger guys an extended opportunity. I also agree that even if he doesn't reach 401 plate appearances, I would have no problem with them picking up the option.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      I believe that Carroll is a guy who, at some point, will step into a starting role again. I do like the idea of having that veteran on the bench, but as others have said, Carroll is the best middle infielder.
      If, as you say Carroll is the best middle infielder, the Twins have a problem. I really hope that one of Dozier, Florimon and Escobar can be better than a career utility infielder who is nearly 40 years old. I actually hope that 2 of them can be respectable starters until somebody emerges from the minors.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Why isn't Jamey Carroll playing?

      1. The Optimist's View: It's all about player development: Playing Carroll is a backward move on a team that is in full rebuilding mode. Let's see what Escobar, Dozier, Florimon, and Plouffe can do...

      2. The Pessimist's View: It's all about the $2 million option. It this was about winning, early on, the one pure #2 hitter--Jamey Carroll--would be in the lineup. It makes sense to put Mauer at #3 if this team is serious about winning, right now. But this is about money. IF the team exceeds expectations over the first half of the season, they can increase Carroll's playing time over the second half, stay in contention, and still save $2M.

      So, are you a pessimist, or an optimist?
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Don't Feed the Greed Guy View Post
      It this was about winning, early on, the one pure #2 hitter--Jamey Carroll--would be in the lineup. It makes sense to put Mauer at #3 if this team is serious about winning, right now.
      You had me until this point.

      This team is better with Mauer in the second spot in the lineup. That's painfully obvious to anyone who isn't mired in a 1950s baseball mindset. By moving Mauer up, you're putting your best OBP guy second and sliding every good hitter in the lineup forward, giving the 3, 4, and 5 hitters an extra 100 PAs over the course of the season.

      I don't understand why anyone WOULDN'T think Mauer was a good fit for the #2 spot in the lineup.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      This simple fact is that there are trade-offs with all the MI guys. Some are more sound defensively, some are younger, some are know commodities but more expensive, some are cheaper with some potential, some get on base.... it's not like Carroll is head and shoulders better than only other MI guy -- just shoulders.

      I'm fine with him as utility until someone fails to hold it down. Plus, someone has to PR for Plouffsie.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post

      I don't understand why anyone WOULDN'T think Mauer was a good fit for the #2 spot in the lineup.
      Well, it did take Gardy's descendance to Lame Duck/Out on a Limb status for him to finally buy in to the concept.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Jamey Carroll is a player to be appreciated and admired. He has parlayed moderate at best talent into a long career. He is a utility player with limitations and he is 39 years old. He will not be part of the Twins when they contend for postseason play and because of that he shouldn't be getting much playing time. I also believe that the money matters to the club. That means there is even more incentive to keep him under 401 plate appearances.
    1. halfchest's Avatar
      halfchest -
      It's not about the 2 million it's about the possible future value. If one of Dozier, Florimon, or Escobar breaks out, and by breakout I mean proves to be a serviceable starter, there's five more years of a mostly cost controlled starter. I think all three are still viable to become serviceable starters. By that I mean they can all be solid to above average defensively and not be lost with the bat. I'm not expecting a ton from any of these guys but say best case scenario these three can fill SS, 2B, and Utility for the next few years that allows for more money to be poured into other areas.

      I guess what I'm saying is it makes sense to start these guys and give them an extended look to see if they can truly hold their own. I believe the Twins can find one starter and a utility guy out of these three and that alone represents solid value for future hopefully contending Twins teams in 2014 and beyond
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      I complain about the Twins penny-pinching ways all the time, with what I feel is good cause, and even I don't think it's about the 2014 player option. I like Carroll, he seems like a stand up guy, he plays hard and he plays smart, and he's not totally futile at the plate. But it simply makes little sense to give Carroll steady playing time when the team is trying to fill SS and 2B not just for 2013 but for the next few years at least. There's also no guarantee Carroll, at 39, would prove better than what's currently out there if he was to get an every day job. Personally I have my doubts he has what it takes to be an every day major league SS anymore.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      I am surprised, too. If anything, I would be playing him to add some value to him as a player as you never know when a team may need a temporary middle infielder with experience. His trade value would increase maybe just a tad. Otherwise, there is little need for him. Better to replace him with lower priced commodities like Olmeda or Sober in the minors, who pack a little more punch and could be a bench bat. Escobar has shown that he can play and is a comfortable replacement, at least at shortstop. I will praise the argument that it is always nice to have a veteran presence on the bench, but the Twins basically increased their coaching staff by a couple of names. And if I was going to have a vet presence, I would've signed Thome to be a DH/bench guy/presence...and maybe someone, again, like Rauch out in the bullpen.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      If we are not going to play him , why not trade him?
      with jeter out till midseason or longer , maybe the yankees will be looking to shoreup
      there infield
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