Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • The Rundown: Shortstop Shakeup


    On Tuesday, Jason Parks and the Baseball Prospectus prospect staff wrote an article assessing the industryís views on baseballís four shortstop uber-prospects: Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Javier Baez, and Addison Russell. That quartet, along with Red Sox rookie Xander Bogarts, comprise the strongest crop of shortstop prospects since the trio of Alex Rodriquez, Derek Jeter, and Nomar Garciaparra debuted in the mid-90s. If youíre one of the five teams lucky enough to boast one of these up-and-comers, your future at the position is in good hands. Alas, the Twins are not one of those teams.

    More than any other position on the diamond in recent years, the Twins have consistently struggled to get adequate production from the six-hole. Over the past decade, they have managed to field an above replacement shortstop in just four seasons, with Jason Bartlettís 2007 representing the only truly good season of the bunch. In that time, just three teams have gotten worse offensive production from the position. The teamís incumbent, Pedro Florimon, sports a career line of .215/.275/.315 and is off to another blistering start this season (2-for-20), making it clear the solution does not reside on the current roster.

    It should come as no surprise, then, that on Monday the Twins acquired shortstop Eduardo Nunez from the Yankees in exchange for minor league pitcher Miguel Sulbaran. The 20-year-old Sulbaran, acquired last year from the Dodgers in exchange for catcher Drew Butera, had posted solid numbers over three minor league seasons, but had yet to advance past low-A ball. Though a decent get for the no-hit Butera, he failed to make the Twins top-30 prospects list according to Baseball America and was thus deemed disposable. So what do the Twins get in Nunez? Simply put, he is the anti-Florimon.

    G AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ E DRS UZR UZR/150
    Florimon 188 .215 .275 .315 7.3% 25.1% 62 26 19 0.7 0.6
    Nunez 270 .267 .313 .379 6.2% 12.3% 86 30 -39 -30.6 -33.9
    Though his career numbers are anything but elite, Nunez clearly rates as an above-average offensive player at the shortstop position. He strikes out half as much as Florimon, gets on base more often, and hits for more power. On the other hand, whereas Florimon has been an above average defender, Nunez has cost the Yankees at least three wins in his brief time at short (though heís been less awful at third base). Both players have committed an inordinate number of errors, but Florimonís range has allowed him to compensate for those mistakes in a way that Nunez simply cannot. Essentially, the Twins now possess two flawed alternatives, and the question becomes which skill set the organization values more.

    Given that they made no real effort to acquire a replacement for Florimon this offseason, at least that we are aware of, the Twins clearly liked the glove enough to overlook his black-hole offense. On the other hand, this is the same team that is actively trying to convert a 34-year-old Bartlett into a backup outfielder and recently started Jason Kubel and Chris Colabello at the corners (in the same game!), so defense is clearly not the organizationís end-all, be-all. With Nunez ticketed for Triple-A, Florimon does not appear to be in imminent danger of losing his hold on the starting gig. However, if the defense slips at all and his average continues to hover around the Mendoza Line, the club would be wise to see what it has in Nunez in what figures to be another lost season.

    Lastly, it remains to be seen what effect the acquisition of Nunez will have on Danny Santana, the teamís ninth-rated prospect (via BA) and someone viewed as a possible replacement for Florimon down the road. Santana has proven incapable of drawing a walk and commits an obscene amount of errors, but he has hit at every level and had been starting for Triple-A Rochester to begin the season. If Nunez becomes the teamís new starting shortstop, a demotion to Double-A New Britain is not out of the question for Santana, who at this point in his development needs as many reps in the field as he can get.

    The trade for Nunez will likely have little impact on the future of the Twins, but if nothing else it serves as another story to follow in what will likely be another long season in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. #p2c

    Originally published at pitching2contact
    Comments 91 Comments
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Good post. Very well written. We have a good thread going on the subject. I won't sum it up here, but I will summarize my perspective.

      When they acquired Sulbaran, they had high hopes. And he initially justified these hopes by putting up better numbers than Berrios last year at the same level and age. But he came into camp overweight and out of shape. Even though he spent the entire year as a starter last year between two teams in the MWL, he could not make the Cedar Rapids starting rotation. If he was relegated to relief and repeating a level, his trade value would plummet off a cliff. So they determined to get whatever they could for him while his 2013 numbers were still fresh in people's minds.

      After shopping him, the best they could do was Nunez. So they did the deal. They had to put a positive spin on the trade, so they hyped Nunez as a possible answer to Florimon's anemic offense. But even though they have two open spots on the 40-man roster, they assigned him to Rochester, where he is unlikely to start at short more than once a week at SS, and otherwise serve in a utility role. Santana is still the immediate future at the position, making a return to New Britain highly unlikely (he has nothing to prove there). Neither will Nunez play second, as Beresford is actually a good AAA player at that position, and is hitting third for Gene Glenn while playing sparkling defense. nunez might take some swings from Romero (3B) or Ramirez (LF). Otherwise, he'll be a decent AAA bench option.

      Far from being a real alternative, Nunez is just depth at a position in which an injury would be difficult to recover from, especially with Bartlett on the DL. Unless an injury occurs, I expect Nunez to spend the year in AAA and maybe earn a September call-up. More likely, he's AAA roster filler until some of the other players move up.

      Is it a bad trade? No. Depth is good, and Sulbaran was about to become a zero in the organization if we didn't do anything. But I wouldn't read more into it than the above.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Agree with cmath
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Good post and good comment.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Good post. Very well written. We have a good thread going on the subject. I won't sum it up here, but I will summarize my perspective.

      When they acquired Sulbaran, they had high hopes. And he initially justified these hopes by putting up better numbers than Berrios last year at the same level and age. But he came into camp overweight and out of shape. Even though he spent the entire year as a starter last year between two teams in the MWL, he could not make the Cedar Rapids starting rotation. If he was relegated to relief and repeating a level, his trade value would plummet off a cliff. So they determined to get whatever they could for him while his 2013 numbers were still fresh in people's minds.

      After shopping him, the best they could do was Nunez. So they did the deal. They had to put a positive spin on the trade, so they hyped Nunez as a possible answer to Florimon's anemic offense. But even though they have two open spots on the 40-man roster, they assigned him to Rochester, where he is unlikely to start at short more than once a week at SS, and otherwise serve in a utility role. Santana is still the immediate future at the position, making a return to New Britain highly unlikely (he has nothing to prove there). Neither will Nunez play second, as Beresford is actually a good AAA player at that position, and is hitting third for Gene Glenn while playing sparkling defense. nunez might take some swings from Romero (3B) or Ramirez (LF). Otherwise, he'll be a decent AAA bench option.

      Far from being a real alternative, Nunez is just depth at a position in which an injury would be difficult to recover from, especially with Bartlett on the DL. Unless an injury occurs, I expect Nunez to spend the year in AAA and maybe earn a September call-up. More likely, he's AAA roster filler until some of the other players move up.

      Is it a bad trade? No. Depth is good, and Sulbaran was about to become a zero in the organization if we didn't do anything. But I wouldn't read more into it than the above.
      A few thoughts and facts:

      Nunez is already on the 40 man roster.

      Procedurally, he has to go to Rochester based on maintaining his options.

      He will be starting at SS there sooner rather than later.

      The organization has said they brought him in as an alternative at SS.

      If he isn't clicking, they will ship him out for whatever they can get before just keeping him around as depth.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Sulbaran was scheduled to start on Tuesday in Great Lakes. They were going to piggyback him and Jorge until they got further into the schedule and needed the 6 starters.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      I am still scratching my head on the Nunez deal. The Twins biggest problem right now is pitching, and weakening your defense will make that problem worse.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      At what point do we think about putting Plouffe or Dozier back at SS?
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Good post. Very well written. We have a good thread going on the subject. I won't sum it up here, but I will summarize my perspective.

      When they acquired Sulbaran, they had high hopes. And he initially justified these hopes by putting up better numbers than Berrios last year at the same level and age. But he came into camp overweight and out of shape. Even though he spent the entire year as a starter last year between two teams in the MWL, he could not make the Cedar Rapids starting rotation. If he was relegated to relief and repeating a level, his trade value would plummet off a cliff. So they determined to get whatever they could for him while his 2013 numbers were still fresh in people's minds.

      After shopping him, the best they could do was Nunez. So they did the deal. They had to put a positive spin on the trade, so they hyped Nunez as a possible answer to Florimon's anemic offense. But even though they have two open spots on the 40-man roster, they assigned him to Rochester, where he is unlikely to start at short more than once a week at SS, and otherwise serve in a utility role. Santana is still the immediate future at the position, making a return to New Britain highly unlikely (he has nothing to prove there). Neither will Nunez play second, as Beresford is actually a good AAA player at that position, and is hitting third for Gene Glenn while playing sparkling defense. nunez might take some swings from Romero (3B) or Ramirez (LF). Otherwise, he'll be a decent AAA bench option.

      Far from being a real alternative, Nunez is just depth at a position in which an injury would be difficult to recover from, especially with Bartlett on the DL. Unless an injury occurs, I expect Nunez to spend the year in AAA and maybe earn a September call-up. More likely, he's AAA roster filler until some of the other players move up.

      Is it a bad trade? No. Depth is good, and Sulbaran was about to become a zero in the organization if we didn't do anything. But I wouldn't read more into it than the above.
      These guys are very young, and in many cases immature.
      I'm not giving the organization a free pass on giving up on Sulbaran just because he showed up "out of shape".
      1) Pitchers don't necessarily need to be in great shape to be good at their job. Take David Wells for example. He put up very good numbers last year, why not give him an opportunity to do it again, and if it starts to look like his performance is bothered by his weight or conditioning, address it then?

      2) We are just going to bail on our prospects every time they don't do exactly what the organization asks them to in the offseason?
      Eddie Rosario, allegedly, cares more about getting high than he does his baseball career. Are we just going to bail on him as well?

      Not being able to make the CR rotation was not because of his performance, he pitched great last year. If the organization couldn't find a spot for him, that is on them, he couldn't have done much more last year to earn a spot somewhere this year.

      I'm not saying this will be another one, but this organization is starting to develop a track record of giving away talent in head scratching trades. Ramos for Capps, Garza for Delmon, Gomez for Hardy for Hoey, Liriano for Escobar, etc.
    1. Deduno Abides's Avatar
      Deduno Abides -
      I struggle with this one. On one hand, when Keith Hernandez, a former batting champ, had drug and other troubles, Whitey Herzog traded him from the Cards for essentially nothing, because Whitey didn't want that kind of person on his team. The Cards went back to the World Series two more times after that (and Keith Hernandez became "I'm Keith Hernandez" in New York). Also, when I hire people, I too consider "clubhouse-type" issues, as well as the person's track record and skillset.

      On the other hand, being overweight is not anything like the issues Hernandez was bringing into the clubhouse, and the Twins' recent record, especially in pitching, seems to give them less of a platform to have a "my way or the highway" attitude about players. One could also argue that the Twins' expectations about player behavior has led to overvaluing sparkplug-type players and good clubhouse guys, who are otherwise weaker in baseball skills, and undervaluing talented players that might need a little adult leadership. In other words, when you're winning, clubhouse behavior may matter more, whereas talent might be a bigger emphasis when you appear on track for last place for the fourth year in a row.

      Cmatty's write-up makes a lot of sense, except for the underlying idea that the team, possibly based on maturity issues, is giving up on a 20-year old with a good track record in exchange for organization filler. That said, professional baseball management knows baseball talent better than we do, so if they think Sulbaran has no potential, despite his track record, as also alluded to by Cmatty, I guess we need to defer to them (and time will tell).
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Do we have two threads here?--Nunez and Sulbaran? Sulbaran's "claim to fame" is that he was the player received for trading Butera--and he was instantly placed in the Twins Top 20 Prospects. I believe that was "helium". Given the shouting about the #1 minor league system and pitchers in the lower half of the system, it became clear that Sulbaran didn't merit such a lofty status (the other pitchers are better than him). Thus Sulbaran is dead-weight.

      Nunez--of whom this thread is named after. Clearly the Twins have recognized that they have a problem at SS and it won't be fixed soon. Acquiring a cast-off ("The Twins way") at the very least, provides some depth at the position--even if that depth is "thin". Nunez didn't cost anything. When does the SS problem get solved? IDK and I'm not going to hold my breath. My best guess is that the Twins may need to trade some of its prospects in order to acquire a ML-calibre SS who can be kept for several years.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      Do we have two threads here?--Nunez and Sulbaran? Sulbaran's "claim to fame" is that he was the player received for trading Butera--and he was instantly placed in the Twins Top 20 Prospects. I believe that was "helium". Given the shouting about the #1 minor league system and pitchers in the lower half of the system, it became clear that Sulbaran didn't merit such a lofty status (the other pitchers are better than him). Thus Sulbaran is dead-weight.

      Nunez--of whom this thread is named after. Clearly the Twins have recognized that they have a problem at SS and it won't be fixed soon. Acquiring a cast-off ("The Twins way") at the very least, provides some depth at the position--even if that depth is "thin". Nunez didn't cost anything. When does the SS problem get solved? IDK and I'm not going to hold my breath. My best guess is that the Twins may need to trade some of its prospects in order to acquire a ML-calibre SS who can be kept for several years.
      I'd say bringing up the player we traded for Nunez is pretty safely on topic.

      I'll also say that given the fact that Nunez currently has a NEGATIVE career WAR, it is entirely possible that Sulbaran could be the more valuable player in this trade by simply NOT ever making the major leagues.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      According to John Shipley http://www.twincities.com/twins/ci_2...g-more-offense

      Nunez trade is spinned as a move to add offense in addition to or replacement of Florimon's anemic hitting, and the move to have Hicks, Arcia, Willingham, and Kubel as your outfielders with no defensive replacement available (until recently) proves this teams willingness to sacrifice defense for offense.

      If this is to be believed (and I buy it) then the logical reason to have Nunez in AAA is to shop Escobar or Florimon to make a 25 man roster spot.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      I wonder if Nunez says more about Rosario's and or Santana's timeline. Frankly I don't really care about Florimon, he's a stop-gap player, but Santana is supposed to be an excellent hitting 2b turned SS I assume to make room for Rosario at 2b. I pictured Rosario a call up this year, until the suspension but Rosario went AWOL (excused sure but still gone). Maybe the plan is to move players back to their original positions?
    1. Lonestar's Avatar
      Lonestar -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sconnie View Post
      I wonder if Nunez says more about Rosario's and or Santana's timeline. Frankly I don't really care about Florimon, he's a stop-gap player, but Santana is supposed to be an excellent hitting 2b turned SS I assume to make room for Rosario at 2b. I pictured Rosario a call up this year, until the suspension but Rosario went AWOL (excused sure but still gone). Maybe the plan is to move players back to their original positions?
      Santana has always been a shortstop. Rosario can't play shortstop.

      And Sulburban was 5'9" and traded for Drew Butera. Way overvalued by some.

      Nunez gives the Twins an option of sorts while they prepare Santana.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      I'd say bringing up the player we traded for Nunez is pretty safely on topic.

      I'll also say that given the fact that Nunez currently has a NEGATIVE career WAR, it is entirely possible that Sulbaran could be the more valuable player in this trade by simply NOT ever making the major leagues.
      Sulbaran's diminutive stature, non-correlative SIERA, huge upgrade in better and more projectable arms in the organization, and him showing up in poor physical condition made this move a no-brainer. The odds are the Twins sold high (for once) and even higher odds that they end up winning this trade.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      These guys are very young, and in many cases immature.
      I'm not giving the organization a free pass on giving up on Sulbaran just because he showed up "out of shape".
      .
      "Just because he was out of shape".

      We are talking about professional athletes. How lazy and uncommited do you have to be to not not be in shape as a 20 y/o professional athlete? What kind of discipline and/or work ethic doe this demonstrate? What does it say about someone who won't make the effort to stay in shape with millions of dollars on the line. What kind of message does it send to your teammates? I applaud them sending someone down the road who can't be bothered to stay in shape when they have not even made it out of A ball.
    1. Reider's Avatar
      Reider -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      At what point do we think about putting Plouffe or Dozier back at SS?
      I'd put Escobar at SS before Dozier or Plouffe. Just leave those guys where they are.
    1. oldguy10's Avatar
      oldguy10 -
      Apparently just about everyone assumes Santana will be the next regular shortstop and I wonder if that is truly the case. How about Polanco and Goodrum? Do not both of those players fit into the equation somehow? Or has management already decided that neither of those two is up to it at the MLB level?
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      At what point do we think about putting Plouffe or Dozier back at SS?
      Maybe when there are viable alternatives at 2B and 3B but probably not.
    1. Danchat's Avatar
      Danchat -
      Quote Originally Posted by Reider View Post
      I'd put Escobar at SS before Dozier or Plouffe. Just leave those guys where they are.
      I concur. Can I double-like this post?
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.