• Dozier, Rosario and the Future at Second Base

    It has been quite the 12-month span for Twins second baseman Brian Dozier.

    On August 14th of last season, the Twins had seen enough of him at shortstop with the big league club. They demoted him to Rochester after 340 plate appearances in his rookie campaign. Many thought he would be back as a September call-up but the call never came. Dozier was forced to live with a bad taste in his mouth for the entire offseason.


    Brian Dozier entered the 2013 season not knowing if he would have a starting job with the Twins. The 26-year old middle infielder was shifting to second base and the club was having a competition in spring training for the starting role. Dozier would beat out other light hitting options like Jamey Carroll and Eduardo Escobar. Dozier had flopped when he had previously been giving a starting job but the Twins were willing to give him a second chance at a new position.

    April and May weren't outstanding for Dozier. He combined to hit .214/.259/.299 with seven extra-base hits in 168 plate appearances. Unfortunately, he had more strikeouts (35) than hits (33) and he was only able to draw nine walks. It was a rough start to Dozier's sophomore season and the Twins were going to need to see some kind of improvement to keep him in the line-up on a daily basis.

    Things started to go in the right direction during the month of June. In 26 games, Dozier found his swing by hitting .257/.389/.514 with five home runs and four doubles. He posted a .902 OPS for the month and the Twins were even willing to give him some at-bats in the lead-off spot. His batting average for the season went from .214 to .228 and he raised his OPS from .558 to .673.

    In recent weeks, Dozier has been on quite the hot streak on the offensive side of the ball. Since July 21st, he is batting .304/.364/.595 with three home runs, two triples, and 10 doubles. In this span of 18 games, the Twins have posted an 11-7 record and Dozier' presence at the top of the line-up has helped the club along the way.

    Second base is an interesting position for the Twins as the organization starts to look to the future. Dozier seems to be settling into a nice groove at the big league level but he soon might be feeling a little pressure from the minor leagues. Minnesota was unhappy with their lack of talent in the middle infield a couple of seasons ago and the organization decided to move Eddie Rosario, one of the club's best hitting prospects, from the outfield to second base.

    Rosario has played parts of this season with the Fort Myers Miracle and the New Britain Rock Cats. In 102 games, he has hit .311/.363/.479 with nine home runs, eight triples, and 26 doubles. He has struck out a career high 75 times with 46 of those Ks coming in 50 games at Double-A. Rosario had a huge month of July for the Rock Cats. He batted .353/.394/.549 with three home runs and nine doubles.

    The Twins will look for Rosario to be the second baseman of the future but how soon will the future arrive at Target Field?

    Dozier's recent hot streak makes it easier for the Twins to keep Rosario in the minor leagues. Earlier this season it would have been easy to think that Dozier wouldn't have a job for Opening Day 2014 because Rosario would be making his debut. That plan might have changed and this could give Rosario time to master the Triple-A level before being asked to face the pressures of the big leagues.

    It seems likely that next spring there could be slough of top prospects in the Twins major league camp during spring training. Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, and Eddie Rosario could all get a taste of what it's like to be one step closer to the big leagues. Sano and Rosario could be fighting for a starting job or they could be on their way to Rochester.

    In the end, Rosario is only 21-years old and he will be 22 at the beginning of next season. There isn't exactly a rush to get him to the big leagues and to start his arbitration clock. If Dozier continues to play the way he is, the Twins will be happy to give him at-bats until Rosario is busting down the door to the major leagues.

    With the Twins recent history of middle infielders, it's certainly better to have multiple solid options at second base than a bunch of question marks.
    This article was originally published in blog: Dozier, Rosario and the Future at Second Base started by Cody Christie
    Comments 48 Comments
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by Linus View Post
      Disagree with the moving him to SS talk. His highest and best use is a second baseman where is an absolute elite defender and good offensive contributor. Why move him back to SS where he was really substantially below average. When Rosario is ready, best value is to use him as a trade chip or keep him and trade Rosario. We still need to add pitching and it ain't going be with free agents next year.
      I see what you're saying, but I don't think we've seen the best of shortstop Dozier. I mean, given how "substantially below average" he was last year in a similar middle infield spot, could anyone have predicted how ridiculously good he'd be this year?

      Frankly, I think if we were to move Dozier to shortstop tomorrow (hypothetically), we'd see a player much more similar to current-2B-Dozier than to previous-below-average-SS-Dozier. This year and last year are very far apart now; I don't see the logic in assuming he'd revert to last year's form because he moved several feet to his right on the diamond.

      Ultimately, I think positional flexibility is going to be useful if we actually have the logjam we think we do (and by the way, I don't know how viable Beresford is if he can't even hit a double now and then). Let's not foreclose the possibility of moving Dozier to SS or moving Rosario to CF or moving Plouffe to wherever, because in the end we may need to in order to get bats in the lineup and rookies in the show. No one knows how this is going to play out, but if Dozier continues his hot streak, we owe it to ourselves to consider the possibility.
    1. Linus's Avatar
      Linus -
      Quote Originally Posted by 70charger View Post
      I see what you're saying, but I don't think we've seen the best of shortstop Dozier. I mean, given how "substantially below average" he was last year in a similar middle infield spot, could anyone have predicted how ridiculously good he'd be this year?

      Frankly, I think if we were to move Dozier to shortstop tomorrow (hypothetically), we'd see a player much more similar to current-2B-Dozier than to previous-below-average-SS-Dozier. This year and last year are very far apart now; I don't see the logic in assuming he'd revert to last year's form because he moved several feet to his right on the diamond.

      Ultimately, I think positional flexibility is going to be useful if we actually have the logjam we think we do (and by the way, I don't know how viable Beresford is if he can't even hit a double now and then). Let's not foreclose the possibility of moving Dozier to SS or moving Rosario to CF or moving Plouffe to wherever, because in the end we may need to in order to get bats in the lineup and rookies in the show. No one knows how this is going to play out, but if Dozier continues his hot streak, we owe it to ourselves to consider the possibility.
      There is no harm in trying other than it would take a while to find out. I think the reason why he struggled defensively at short was simply that his skills are much better suited to second base. The two positions are quite different in several important ways that benefit Dozier. He uses his acrobatic athletic ability to cover ground at second diving and stopping balls that would not be possible playing short. This acrobatic aspect to his game extends his range at second, compared to short. Also, his arm strength is not there to be an elite shortstop, but is just fine for second base. Good shortstops have to make tough plays without leaving their feet as much and have to have a gun to then make more difficult throws with less time. Nothing wrong with being a damn good second baseman.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Linus View Post
      Disagree with the moving him to SS talk. His highest and best use is a second baseman where is an absolute elite defender and good offensive contributor. Why move him back to SS where he was really substantially below average. When Rosario is ready, best value is to use him as a trade chip or keep him and trade Rosario. We still need to add pitching and it ain't going be with free agents next year.
      If the next wave has no immediate needs, then sure. But I doubt you will get a Bogarts/Profar/Tallison/Bundy type guy for Rosario. Team's dont' give up on types of prospects. What you are left with is a good 2B and Rosario being traded for something that you really cannot use right now. I'd rather move Dozier to short if that's my choice.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      Dozier is doing something that I didn't think was possible, namely learning to hit for power after he gets to the major leagues. If he can keep this up, he'll be the Twins 2B for a long, long time. They are not going to mess this up. The Twins are back to a classic "strong up the middle" defense, with power hitters/slow fielders at the corners. I think Rosario will be changing positions again.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Or next year trade Dozier for starting pitching? We can toss in Duensing.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      Or next year trade Dozier for starting pitching? We can toss in Duensing.
      And Walker?
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Linus View Post
      There is no harm in trying other than it would take a while to find out.
      That, to me, is what 2013 was always about. Finding things out. Taking the time, as needed.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave T View Post
      Dozier is doing something that I didn't think was possible, namely learning to hit for power after he gets to the major leagues.
      Kirby Puckett on line one... oops, the phone went dead.

      / too soon?
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      Wait till we see what Rosario can do before we decide what to do with Dozier. I think Rosario is next to a sure thing when it comes to stud potential.
    1. TwinsFanInPhilly's Avatar
      TwinsFanInPhilly -
      Don't sleep on Jorge Polanco, either.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Dozier to SS only makes to much sense.
      Two months ago, you were suggesting DFA.
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      This points to one of the problems with the Twins way. They will not trade prospects. We miss out on maximizing the value of many of these prospects, particularly when many if not most of them will never be quality MLB players.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave T View Post
      Dozier is doing something that I didn't think was possible, namely learning to hit for power after he gets to the major leagues. If he can keep this up, he'll be the Twins 2B for a long, long time. They are not going to mess this up. The Twins are back to a classic "strong up the middle" defense, with power hitters/slow fielders at the corners. I think Rosario will be changing positions again.
      This isn't quite true. He put up pretty good offensive numbers in AA for 2011 and wasn't bad in the lower minors either. The big thing I see is that his approach seems to have normalized a bit with AA. He was a very patient hitter but that seemed to go away last year. Now he's doing a better job picking which borderline pitches to take and his striking out less and walking more.
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      And, the improvement in Dozier is just another example of letting things play out. Why designate him for assignment even when he was struggling? We need to let these guys get at bats at the major league level and let them sort themselves out. If one guy, lets say Chris Parmalee simply does not work out you move on to another. The point is that we do not want to be going through this process when the team is rebuilt. That is how the 87 team was built and how we should look going forward. Take the losses now. Find the winners. Shed the losers.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      I doubt we'll see Dozier back at SS in a Twins uniform. If they thought he could handle the position as an every day player they wouldn't have moved him off it.

      I tend to agree, from what I saw in the past. 2b is where guys who don't quite have the chops for SS usually end up.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      If the choice is between Dozier and Florimon / Escobar / another version of Jamey Carroll, I would prefer Dozier every time. His defense wasn't that bad last year and his bat is about a tier and half better than these other scrubs.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      This article was pretty enlightening about Dozier:

      Warne: Why Brian Dozier has become the Twins' second-best player | 1500 ESPN Twin Cities ? Minnesota Sports News & Opinion (Twins, Vikings, Wolves, Wild, Gophers) | Sportswire: Minnesota Twins

      The fact that Bruno found a hitch in his swing and he immediately started hitting is a good sign that the new Brian Dozier is here to stay.
    1. Dilligaf69's Avatar
      Dilligaf69 -
      Either way it's a nice problem to possibly have, but I wouldn't mess with him unless Rosario becomes too good to pass up at 2B.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      This points to one of the problems with the Twins way. They will not trade prospects. We miss out on maximizing the value of many of these prospects, particularly when many if not most of them will never be quality MLB players.
      That's not a Twins issue, that's an MLB issue. Prospect for prospect swaps are rare. Besides, right now, the Twins should be acquiring prospects, not trading them.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      And, the improvement in Dozier is just another example of letting things play out. Why designate him for assignment even when he was struggling? We need to let these guys get at bats at the major league level and let them sort themselves out. If one guy, lets say Chris Parmalee simply does not work out you move on to another. The point is that we do not want to be going through this process when the team is rebuilt. That is how the 87 team was built and how we should look going forward. Take the losses now. Find the winners. Shed the losers.
      This was part of my beef with the Parmelee situation. Dozier has been handed the job and did not have a lot of expectations. He was simply told to do the job, and he did it well. His defense was excellent, but it took 2 months for the offense to actually start contributing, and now we are talking like he's more than a placeholder, but a fixture for the next wave. I'm not quite sure he's there (yet), but the bottom line is that you have to play him.

      Parms, on the other hand, got 3 weeks of PT and then got benched for Arcia. He got a couple more and then got benched again for Arcia. I don't know if Parmelee will ever be good, a solid MLB contributor, or a backup, but the bottom line is that he should be playing... EVERY.DAY. His minor league career says that he can hit. It may take some time to adjust, but the kid has shown patience (probably a bit too much of it to be honest), which is one of the most important skills needed to transition to MLB play. I kind of hope Morneau is traded just so Parms can play first every day for the rest of the year.
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