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  • Can Brian Dozier Make the Opening Day Roster?

    Manager Ron Gardenhire wanted him up in the big leagues last summer. Teammates praise his leadership as well as his ability to do anything and everything needed with the bat. Pitchers love when he is playing shortstop behind them. How can Brian Dozier make the Twins Opening Day Roster?

    There are many things going against Dozier this spring, at least in terms of making the opening day roster. The biggest thing he has going for him is his play and his personality.

    Letís start with the reasons that he will not make the Opening Day Roster:
    • Jamey Carroll and Alexi Casilla Ė The Twins brought in Jamey Carroll and paid him enough that he will get a starting job. Heís earned that by playing in 140+ games the last two years, being solid defensively and getting on base at a very good clip. The Twins are committed to giving Alexi Casilla another shot as a starter at second base. Even if the leash on Casilla isnít real long, he will get a shot to start.
    • Brian Dozier is a real prospect Ė In other words, they are not going to keep him on the big league roster if he isnít going to play nearly every day. It would be best for Dozierís development to go to Rochester and play every day. Dozier will not come up as a utility player yet.
    • 40 man roster Ė Dozier is not on it. Sure, it would be easy to add him to the 40 man roster, especially with Joel Zumayaís roster spot available when he is put on the 60 Day Disabled List. But the Twins may use that to add a reliever. Dozier doesnít need to be added to the 40 man roster, so unless he proves himself in a short period of time to be vastly better than the other options, there is little reason to add him now.
    • Free Agency Ė Itís weird to look six or seven years in advance, especially in baseball where year-to-year is often not a guarantee. However, if the Twins wait to add Dozier to the 40 man roster until after about April 20th, it would be an extra season before he could become a free agent. Is having him up two or three weeks earlier worth losing a full season of his best years?
    • Hasnít spent a day in AAA Ė This isnít a complete deal-breaker, but it is unusual for players to be promoted directly from AA without spending time in AAA. Itís happened. The Twins did that with Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee last year in September and Ben Revere the September before that. In each of those cases, it was simply for an opportunity to see the players, and in Revereís case, his speed could be used in late innings as a pinch runner during a pennant race. Brad Radke came up from AA. Others have, including Joe Mauer.
    • Tsuyoshi Nishioka Ė What will the Twins do (or be able to do) with Nishioka and his contract? Would they send him to Rochester? They may be willing to keep him up as a utility player an not play him very much.
    Iím sure you can add other reasons for why the Twins would choose not to put Brian Dozier on their opening day roster. However, there are some reasons that it should not be considered completely out of the realm of possibility for Dozier to leave camp with the Twins.
    • Offense Ė After putting up fairly pedestrian numbers in 2010 at Beloit and Ft. Myers, Dozier had an incredible 2011 season in which he was named the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year. In 49 games in Ft. Myers and 78 games in New Britain, he combined to hit .320/399/.491 with 33 doubles, 12 triples, nine home runs and 56 RBI. He stole 24 bases. He had ten sacrifice bunts.
    • Defense Ė Although scouts tend to be mixed on whether or not he can be an everyday shortstop or a second baseman or a utility infielder, he makes the routine plays. Thatís all that the Twins brass asks a player to do. He credited his Arizona Fall League manager Joe McEwing with helping him increase his range with just a couple of quick alterations.
    • Versatility Ė He can play shortstop and second base, so if Carroll or Casilla were to be hurt, he could fill in for either of them. Carroll is also versatile, so if the Twins feel, at some point, that Alexi Casilla needs to move back to the bench, Carroll could move to second and Dozier could play shortstop.
    • Leadership Ė it isnít a measurable quality, but teammates at each level talk about his ability to lead. He isnít a loudmouth, but he leads by example and isnít afraid to take charge on the field. Obviously we know that is important to Ron Gardenhire.
    • Tsuyoshi Nishioka - Because the Twins clearly are not big supporters of Nishioka at this point, it is possible that they would release the middle infielder, give Dozier a starting gig and move Carroll or Casilla to a bench role.
    The odds are stacked against Brian Dozier, who went 2-3 with a triple yesterday in exhibition play, to make the Twins Opening Day roster. However, the odds are definitely in favor of Brian Dozier being promoted to the Twins at some point in 2012. The odds are also very good that once he is called up, he will remain a starter with the Twins for several seasons.

    This article was originally published in blog: Can Brian Dozier Make the Opening Day Roster? started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 38 Comments
    1. Fanatic Jack's Avatar
      Fanatic Jack -
      Nice job explaining both parts of the issue. I think Brian Dozier needs to continue to develop as a player so sending him to Rochester for a few months makes a lot of sense. I have always seen Jamey Carroll as a stop gap at shortstop until Dozier is ready. I believe Carroll will take over at second base and Casilla will become the untility guy. I sure hope Nishioka does not make the roster out of spring training because he looks lost on the field.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      To make the team he has to beat both Nishioka and Mike Hollimon and both of them, especially Hollimon have the upper hand now. Even if he beats them, I just don't see him making the team before September and sitting on the bench or PH/PR/spot starting, instead of playing every day in Rochester. If there are injuries mid-season (hope not), he might make the team that way.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      If Nishioka doesn't make the team as the utility, that's fine with me.

      Who is the bench then?
      Hughes : Plays 1B/2B/3B
      Catcher(like they really need 3)
      OF
      ???
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Ed View Post
      If Nishioka doesn't make the team as the utility, that's fine with me.

      Who is the bench then?
      Hughes : Plays 1B/2B/3B
      Catcher(like they really need 3)
      OF
      ???
      Plouffe will be there, so there are 2 spots. Maybe a Catcher and an IF, maybe not
    1. Harrison Greeley III's Avatar
      Harrison Greeley III -
      He's going to be 25 this year. June 1 is certainly more logical but I suppose I'm having a harder time caring about service time before free agency here as opposed to him being 22. In addition, the Twins love arbitration buy-out deals as well which in many ways negates that issue.

      I also have really no problem with him skipping AAA. It's not like he would be stealing a ton of value from the guy he would be replacing as the alternative is Alexi Casilla.
    1. 2wins87's Avatar
      2wins87 -
      I wouldn't start him over Casilla yet, he's still a prospect who needs to continue to develop, which is why I also wouldn't put him in Nishioka's backup role. If Nishioka proves completely futile then I'd give Holliman a shot before rushing Dozier to the majors.

      I also have to note that before last season he wasn't seen as much of a prospect, so while he may turn into an above average mlb shortstop, we really haven't seen enough from him yet for that to be likely. So I'm hoping he'll show us something more in AAA this year.
    1. jlovren's Avatar
      jlovren -
      I think having him play a year (or most of it) in AAA and proving the numbers from 2011 were not a fluke is probably best.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Why do guys who are already in their mid 20s have to spend most of a year in AAA?
      If Dozier is ready, get him playing time. Figure it out. If he's better than Nishioka, would you rather have him helping,
      occasionally PH and playing in the field, and helping the big club? I sure would.

      The system is so void of upper talent fans have to suffer through these has-beens and never-weres at the higher levels.

      And they drag moving guys up year after year.
    1. Harrison Greeley III's Avatar
      Harrison Greeley III -
      Quote Originally Posted by 2wins87 View Post
      I wouldn't start him over Casilla yet, he's still a prospect who needs to continue to develop....
      So roll with the certified dud with marginal value over a replacement player?

      Dozier's not a top prospect. He's just a guy who had a great 2011 with a shot at making a team that is probably going to be lousy in 2012. If he can plug a hole for some time till Levi Michael is ready to go then that's awesome. I'm just having a hard time seeing the depth of the downside of giving him a shot and seeing if he can swim at this level.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Dozier has an MLB future, but he's the type of player that needs to prove what he is at AAA first. There's a reason he wasn't talked about that much before last year. Look up anything you can read from National prospect guys or scouts, and they'll say he's a utility guy, not a solid-starter. So let's hope he proves them wrong and temper our expectations a little. If/when he's on the Twins this year, I'd bet it's at 2B, and not SS.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Quote Originally Posted by Harrison Greeley III View Post
      So roll with the certified dud with marginal value over a replacement player?

      Dozier's not a top prospect. He's just a guy who had a great 2011 with a shot at making a team that is probably going to be lousy in 2012. If he can plug a hole for some time till Levi Michael is ready to go then that's awesome. I'm just having a hard time seeing the depth of the downside of giving him a shot and seeing if he can swim at this level.
      I fully agree. Casilla will probably get hurt again, per his norm.

      So do the Twins decide to sink/swim with Luke Hughes and Nishioka at that time, or work Dozier in? I like the power Hughes has, but he's yet to really put it together at the bigs. Time's running out. I wish Nishioka would just give up. Huge mistake.
      Play Dozier. Why wait ANOTHER year. Find out what you have now.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Lein View Post
      Dozier has an MLB future, but he's the type of player that needs to prove what he is at AAA first. There's a reason he wasn't talked about that much before last year. Look up anything you can read from National prospect guys or scouts, and they'll say he's a utility guy, not a solid-starter. So let's hope he proves them wrong and temper our expectations a little. If/when he's on the Twins this year, I'd bet it's at 2B, and not SS.
      Why?

      Just because the Twins kept him in AA over and over again, like they've done with Parmelee and Benson, and probably with Herrmann this year? There is no rule that says a guy has to play in AAA first.

      I am hopeful by midseason the Twins are realistic about what's going on, deal some vets for help(Doumit/Carroll/pitchers) and truly rebuild.
      They've blown the best years of Mauer and Morneau by not having a good enough supporting cast. Get the kids ready before they're both too old to help.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      The only positive about having Dozier/Benson/Parmelee spend time in AAA(hopefully Herrmann as well) is that they get to spend time with the Twins' next hitting coach.
    1. jjswol's Avatar
      jjswol -
      I think Dozier has zero chance of making the Twins roster out of spring training. Ryan brought in Carroll to play short and there is no reason to believe that will not happen. I know that Carroll has not hit this spring but he is a veteran and his lack of hitting in the spring will not sway the Twins from their chosen path. I can see Dozier getting his shot later in the season once the Twins have fallen out of the hunt. The fact that Nishioka is around and is making good money also works against Dozier. What do you do with Nishioka if he can't make the big club? Send him to Rochester where he gets in Dozier's way? I can't see any way that the Twins release Nishioka who is just starting year 2 of a 3 year deal and the club is desperate for middle infielders that can play with any consistency what so ever.
    1. roger's Avatar
      roger -
      Good morning Seth, I see that most fans didn't consider Dozier a prospect until this past year. Well, they should have. Yes, he was drafted as a college player so he is a bit older. After the draft in 2009, he hit .353 average in 53 games at Elizabethton. Right there is when he should have been a prospect on everyone's radar, he certainly was on mine. In 2010 he hit .278 average at Beloit then didn't see a big drop when moving up to the pitcher friendly FSL where he hit .274 and took more walks (44) than strikeouts (41).

      I look for him to begin his season in Rochester until one of the CC's gets injured. Then he will come up and assume the starting shortstop job which he should keep for many years.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Quote Originally Posted by roger View Post
      Good morning Seth, I see that most fans didn't consider Dozier a prospect until this past year. Well, they should have. Yes, he was drafted as a college player so he is a bit older. After the draft in 2009, he hit .353 average in 53 games at Elizabethton. Right there is when he should have been a prospect on everyone's radar, he certainly was on mine. In 2010 he hit .278 average at Beloit then didn't see a big drop when moving up to the pitcher friendly FSL where he hit .274 and took more walks (44) than strikeouts (41).

      I look for him to begin his season in Rochester until one of the CC's gets injured. Then he will come up and assume the starting shortstop job which he should keep for many years.
      Dozier was a leader on his team in college, and helped them get to the CWS. Played thru injury to help. Been following him since drafted, and have always considered him a guy they should pay more attention to.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Part of me thinks that there is just a lot of hype about Dozier. I just hope that he can perform and justify it. Here is a comparison:

      Brian Dozier: age 24 season: A+/AA: .320/.399/.491 9 HR, 56 RBI
      Mystery Twins' infielder: age 23 season: AA/AAA: .309/.369/.524 18 HR, 61 RBI

      Any idea who the mystery infielder is? (and this is not like 20 years ago).

      Just to place Dozier's performance/age in line with others in the system, before we start anointing him as the SS of the future...
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      jjswol - they aren't going to let Nishioka get in Dozier's way (I don't think). Dozier is going to play whereever he goes.

      Ed - I'm not disagreeing with the fact that he doesn't have to play in AAA. I'm fine with him jumping to the big leagues if he's going to play every day. The difference between Dozier (and Herrmann) and Parmelee/Benson is that Dozier and Herrmann have just a 1/2 season at AA whereas Parmelee/Benson have almost 2 full years. But, as I mentioned, Mauer had just a halfseason at AA as well, and hit about .340 in it when they made room for him by trading AJ. Mauer was 20 at the time. Dozier was 24. So I'm fine with them bringing Dozier up as a starter now. The great qualities that we heard back then about Mauer are the same things we're hearing now about Dozier. No one is putting Dozier in Mauer's class, but there are some similarities.

      I specifically did not mention Carroll's spring training numbers because they're meaningless at this point. Dozier's hitting just .231 and that's after his 2-3 game. Casilla's hitting over .300, I think. None of that matters right now, so I didn't write that as a reason either way.

      Roger - I liked Dozier earlier in his career, but not as much as you. The .353 in E-Town for a four-year college guy is fairly meaningless. Where I started liking him more was with the other thing you mentioned... I like that he is a guy who walks as much or more than he strikes out.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Just because the Twins kept him in AA over and over again, like they've done with Parmelee and Benson, and probably with Herrmann this year? There is no rule that says a guy has to play in AAA first.
      Well, last year was the first time he's ever played at AA, so don't know what you're getting at here. He needs to prove it in AAA because he's NOT a sure thing. Joe Mauer was a sure thing, and he's the only guy I can think of who skipped AAA altogether and started the season on the big league club after spending the prior year in AA. 2011 was by far Dozier's best season as a pro: improved his career best batting avg. on a non-rookie league team by .042 points, best OBP by .047 pts, best Slugging % by .137 points... There's not really a track record for stardom here...
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      And as for my "Prove what he is" statement, it literally means he needs to be playing every day somewhere to "prove what he is". You're not going to find out if he's a starter by sitting him on the bench with the MLB club, because he's certainly not beating out Carrol or Casilla in Spring Training.
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