• Twins Center Field Depth Is Tested

    At the end of last season, the Twins had plenty of options in center field. Denard Span and Ben Revere spent most of the year manning the position. Darin Mastroianni made a good fourth outfielder because he could play center field when necessary. Joe Benson and Aaron Hicks were on the 40-man roster but there wasn't much room for them with the three others in front of them.

    The position has certainly gone from crowded to sparsely populated in a hurry. As most fans know, Span and Revere were traded in the offseason in an attempt to add pitching depth. This left the club with no center fielder for opening day; that changed in a hurry though.

    Hicks, Mastroianni, and Benson all battled in spring training to be the full-time starter. Mastroianni and Benson were a little dinged up but that didn't affect the outcome because Hicks put together some tremendous performances to earn the starting role.

    Yesterday, news came out today that Hicks will be sidelined for at least two weeks with a left hamstring strain. Hicks' injury leaves the team in a bit of a jam. Mastroianni will be out until July after undergoing surgery on his ankle. Wilkin Ramirez had been another option in the outfield but he is still dealing with concussion symptoms. That's three center fielders on the disabled list.

    The man left standing after all this mess wasn't even on the 40-man roster a handful of days ago. Clete Thomas was having a decent year for the Rochester Red Wings before he got called up to serve as an insurance policy for Hicks. Since his promotion, Thomas has one hit in ten at-bats (.100) with a strikeout. In parts of four different MLB seasons, Thomas has hit .242/.322/.378 with nine home runs and 23 doubles over 482 plate appearances.

    Of players on the active roster, there are three full-time outfielders, Chris Parmelee, Josh Willingham and Thomas. Chris Herrmann has backed up at the center field spot and Oswaldo Arcia will be promoted to take the place of Hicks. Ron Gardenhire might have to get creative with his outfield alignments.

    There are no other outfielders on the 40-man roster. So what you see is what you get when it comes to men patrolling the grass of Target Field. An injury to Thomas before one of the other players is healthy would mean another 40-man roster move and another call-up from the minor leagues.

    Antoan Richardson has taken over the center field duties in Rochester. This could make him the next in line to join the Twins if there is another injury. In 59 games between New Britain and Rochester, he has hit .314/.451/.386 with three triples and nine doubles. The 29-year old outfielder got a taste of the big leagues back in 2011 with the Braves.

    If Richardson is not to be the guy, the Twins could look down to the Double-A level. Angel Morales will be taking over center field duties for the Rock Cats but he is just arriving with the club. The 23-year-old was part of the group of players promoted from Fort Myers after the team clinched the first half championship. Morales has no experience above this level so it seems unlikely he would be promoted to the big leagues any time soon.

    When the Twins entered last offseason, it would have been hard imagining a situation where the club would be struggling to find a man to put in center field. Strange things can happen in baseball and this rash of injuries will test the depth of the organization. Thomas might not be the ideal man for center field but the Twins have to play with the hand they were dealt.

    Even if it seems like the hand is a couple cards short...
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins center field depth to be tested started by Cody Christie
    Comments 79 Comments
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Thomas might not be the ideal man for center field but the Twins have to play with the hand they were dealt.

      Even if it seems like the hand is a couple cards short...
      This was a self-inflicted wound, they dealt this hand to themselves, and now they look quite foolish playing 52-pickup.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      This was a self-inflicted wound, they dealt this hand to themselves, and now they look quite foolish playing 52-pickup.
      +1, as much as I'm ok with the return on Span and Revere, the fact that TR was willing to bluff his way through not having a legitimate CF always baffled me. It was Hicks or Hicks from the beginning, Benson being waived a third of the way in is proof positive if that.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      All this talk about CF depth? Yikes! There are so many holes on this team that to focus on a short-term problem is myopic. Power-hitting, timely hitting, plain 'ol hitting are a lot bigger problem than CF. Middle infield? Wasn't Sunday's doubleheader sufficient evidence to realize that problem is far worse? No need to even mention the elephant in the room.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Both middle infield and CF, the most critical players on the field besides the battery-mates, were one-option-only bluffs by TR, that have been called. And neither are "short-term problems"- there aren't any more cards left in the deck for the near-to-intermediate-term, anyways.
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      We are not a competitive team so this is really not a problem.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      We are not a competitive team so this is really not a problem.


      We're not a competitive team BECAUSE this is just one of many problems that weren't properly addressed.
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      This was a self-inflicted wound, they dealt this hand to themselves, and now they look quite foolish playing 52-pickup.
      What would you have done different? It's not like the Twins can decide who gets injured and who doesn't. This is just one of those situations where you have multiple injuries at one position. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. When that happens, most franchises have to struggle to fill the spot until some of the injuries get resolved.
    1. Blackjack's Avatar
      Blackjack -
      Terry Ryan is damned if you do, damned if you don't. After last season they needed pitching, he dealt from a position of strength at the time - centerfielders - most people on here applauded his trades and would have done the same thing if they were the GM but now the perfect storm of injuries has made them a little thin.

      In hindsight maybe they should have kept Benson around a little longer - but is an outfielder that hits .189 or a few missed fly balls going to make or break their losing season? I think not.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I just don't get this.


      Hicks aside (injuries happen,) the Twins have plenty of replacement level CF depth. Lamenting about the loss of 3 of those (Mastroianni, Benson and Ramirez, the latter not really a CF) while having Thomas, Richardson, Pettit and Morales still around, does not make much sense.

      Do the Twins have 2 starting CFs like they did last season? No. Was that an uber luxury in a 99+96 loss team? Yes.

      It will be fine. If Thomas does not work, get Richardson until Hicksie is healed or Mastroianni healthy (and Hicksie is not exactly hitting the cover off the ball) and call it a day. You can plug any of those guys and have pretty much the same results.

      CF is not much of the problem in this team. Really. If Correia is your best SP, you are doomed even if Kirby were the Centerfielder.

      This is like someone with terminal stage cancer complaining about a hangnail.
    1. launchingthrees's Avatar
      launchingthrees -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      We are not a competitive team so this is really not a problem.
      This. Let's see how they hit. We'll worry about positions in 2 years when it matters.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Two years? Ugh. I do not blame Ryan, three center fielders are now hurt. Of course, none of those were any good, but that is another issue entirely.
    1. Gernzy's Avatar
      Gernzy -
      I cannot believe it but I agree with Thrylos! CF is not the reason we are a losing team. We made the correct moves in trading Span and Revere. Benson needed to go as well. We could not have imagined these injures were going to happen. Plus who knows if Benson would do any better then Thomas.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I'm not sure what the fuss is. Forget about Clete Thomas or anyone else and put Arcia there. I know Arcia is not a CF, but this season is lost anyways. Put him in CF for 2 weeks while Hicks is out and see if he's adjusted offensively. I couldn't care less about the defense there as it's not his natural position. This keeps Parmalee in the lineup to see if his development continues.

      I agree depth has changed. Trading Span and Revere was likely the right decision. While I don't agree with releasing Benson, it isn't as if people would be clamoring to see him right now.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      The trades were the correct trades to make. I don't see how anyone could have predicted Worley to be this damn terrible. Maybe bad, but not like this.

      Benson didn't need to go anywhere so he would have been available instead of using true organizational filler to fill-in with a likely sub-500 OPS.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I honestly don't get the "this isn't our biggest problem" crowd? So . . . smaller problems don't add up to a big one?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      I honestly don't get the "this isn't our biggest problem" crowd? So . . . smaller problems don't add up to a big one?
      Wish I could double like this post. can I love a post?
    1. Siehbiscuit's Avatar
      Siehbiscuit -
      @Shane - You nailed it. "The trades were the correct trades to make. I don't see how anyone could have predicted Worley to be this damn terrible." If Worley was pitching like the Worley we all thought we were getting, the Twins could possibly .500 right now. He has been that terrible. Injuries happen, the next guy has to step up.
    1. big dog's Avatar
      big dog -
      I'd rather have May and Meyer, however they turn out, than a light-hitting good-fielding CF who gets worn down chasing line drives all over the outfield for the next 5 years. The pitching has to be fixed or nothing else matters. If Hermann/Thomas can't back up Hicks for a couple weeks there are more outfielders to try.

      The biggest problem the Twins have right now is that it's not 2014. I think the goal this year is to field a half-competitive team while figuring out who to keep and who to trade/release over the next 18 months. Cycling through minor-league outfielders is part of that. Oh yeah, finding a middle infield and a few reliable starters wouldn't hurt either.
    1. terencemann's Avatar
      terencemann -
      Quote Originally Posted by Blackjack View Post
      Terry Ryan is damned if you do, damned if you don't. After last season they needed pitching, he dealt from a position of strength at the time - centerfielders - most people on here applauded his trades and would have done the same thing if they were the GM but now the perfect storm of injuries has made them a little thin.

      In hindsight maybe they should have kept Benson around a little longer - but is an outfielder that hits .189 or a few missed fly balls going to make or break their losing season? I think not.
      My problem with Ryan is that, once he made the trades, he decided that the team's best option was to sacrifice a year of control on Hicks and rush him up the the majors and then leave him there once it was clear he wasn't ready. It's a wasted year no matter what at the ML level (and if they didn't think it was going to be a wasted year, they would have gone after much better pitching than they did) but now they may have wasted one of the better assets they had in the organization at the moment.
    1. chuchadoro's Avatar
      chuchadoro -
      Just put Hammer Time in CF for a few weeks. It might be hilarious enough to help us forget about Pelfrey, Walters & Co. for a while.
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