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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. whydidnt's Avatar
      whydidnt -
      I've never understood the Twins stubbornness to stick with mediocrity. It seems like we have these discussions every year. The Twins make a decision to give a job to a mediocre player such as Casilla or Carroll, and then refuse to consider a change when there may be a player either producing better, or with a higher upside. It's one thing to say there is no sense in rushing Dozier because we have a combo of Jeter-Cano at SS-2B, but it's quite another to stunt a guys growth behind Carroll -Casilla. Seriously if the guy is ready then play him, you aren't benching a future all-star! I'm not sure if he is ready, but I do know Gardenhire liked him out of Spring Training last year and he has done nothing but shine since. The Twins offense is already stunted when you consider almost 1/2 the lineup has little to no power. Adding a guy with even slight potential like Dozier makes the entire lineup better.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Veteran presence. Stabilizing force in the middle.

      Last year was so ugly, there was a need to get a veteran. I guess.

      Personally, the band-aids they put on this team won't make them a winner.

      The moves don't add up to improving this team. They'll be better defensively, but unlike the preaching by radio/TV(especially) the Twins won't
      win a lot of low-scoring games.

      So at some point they have to decide how to improve this team. And in a hurry. That window of opportunity for Mauer/Morneau is closing. If it has not already.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Any idea who the mystery infielder is? (and this is not like 20 years ago).
      Without looking, I'll guess Casilla, with a back-up guess of Tolbert.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Quote Originally Posted by gil4 View Post
      Without looking, I'll guess Casilla, with a back-up guess of Tolbert.
      HAH

      Between the 2 of them they may have 9 minor league HRs

      Looks like a decent line. Reminds me of Valencia type numbers.
    1. ben's Avatar
      ben -
      Hughes? He's not a shortstop though, and barely a second baseman.
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      I'm thinking it's the Giants 3Bman we picked up in the minor league phase of the rule V draft. Bucher? No-look.

      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      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...
      Edit: Hughes is a good guess, too. Thanks, Ben.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by ben View Post
      Hughes? He's not a shortstop though, and barely a second baseman.
      Hughes. And he is above average second baseman
    1. dave_dw's Avatar
      dave_dw -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      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...
      Nobody's expecting Derek Jeter here, but another Jason Bartlett would be nice.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Nice article on Dozier by Brian Dozier by FSN's Tyler Mason: http://www.foxsportsnorth.com/03/13/...74&feedID=5930

      "Obviously, in all (reality), I'm not going to make the team out of spring training. But at the same time, just continue to work hard," Dozier said. "If it's Double-A or Triple-A, which I haven't been told yet — I'm assuming Triple-A — either one in our organization is pretty good. So I'm just looking forward to it and continuing to get better."
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Lots of other MLB teams bring up prospects and have them be on the bench, playing 2-3 times a week to give older guys a rest. I see no reason not to do that with Dozier, if he's ready. Service time is irrelevant to a guy his age, with his upside. We aren't talking about a 21 year old, who will be in his prime in FA. He's in his prime right now, actually. That prime age has gotten younger and younger for hitters, from what I've read on line.

      The best 25 players should come north, and not be sent down to keep a crappy vet around, or a guy that won't contribute around, or to save service time.

      That said, I don't think he's ready right now.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      .

      That said, I don't think he's ready right now.
      BINGO

      And he only had one good and one average game this Spring. All the others were below average. As of Yesterday (Data here), there are six infielders who have performed better than him (and I am not counting Casilla or Carroll who are locks)
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      "Lots of other MLB teams bring up prospects and have them be on the bench, playing 2-3 times a week to give older guys a rest."

      Like who?

      And Thrylos - Hollimon is 4-6 this spring... he's 29... I'd be just fine with him as a utility player... Dozier isn't a utility player.. at least not yet.
    1. dave_dw's Avatar
      dave_dw -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      And he only had one good and one average game this Spring. All the others were below average. As of Yesterday (Data here), there are six infielders who have performed better than him (and I am not counting Casilla or Carroll who are locks)
      It's spring training! If we're going to value the stats in these games that much, then Mauer should be benched behind J.R. Towles!

      I agree that Dozier and the Twins would benefit most from him starting in AAA, but please leave spring training stats out of this.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      And Thrylos - Hollimon is 4-6 this spring... he's 29... I'd be just fine with him as a utility player... Dozier isn't a utility player.. at least not yet.
      That's exactly my point too Seth. The Twins would rather have a utility player (like Hollimon) to warm the bench than Dozier...
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by dave_dw View Post
      It's spring training! If we're going to value the stats in these games that much, then Mauer should be benched behind J.R. Towles!
      That's not the point. Mauer will make the team. Towles is battling to make the team (as Dozier is.) So you got to compare the players who are fighting for a spot. Like Towles, Butera and Rivera. And at this point, Rivera and Towles are ahead of Butera (and not of Mauer. Mauer is going North)
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Ed View Post
      HAH Between the 2 of them they may have 9 minor league HRs
      It could have been worse. My first thought was Denny Hocking, but then I realized that it probably was about 20 years ago that he was a semi-prospect.

      I guess I didn't read too carefully, either. Read the first stat line and then saw the second one was vaguely similar at the start, so I missed the bit about 18 HR. (Casilla did hit 7 HR at age 23 in the majors - that was the major power output for his career so far.)
    1. dave_dw's Avatar
      dave_dw -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Towles is battling to make the team (as Dozier is.) So you got to compare the players who are fighting for a spot.
      This is very true. I can maybe understand using Spring Training stats to break a dead-even tie between two guys, but other than that Spring stats mean nothing. It makes way more sense to see how many good at-bats a player has or how good they can field, things that aren't as fickle as hitting is.

      All this to say, I really hope the Twins don't get sucked into giving a big league roster spot to Mike Hollimon or anyone else based on how well they play in a few games in March.
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      Like Thrylos, I have been thinking of Luke Hughes comparisons. We see some good numbers and want to project this automatic major league success. Many of us did it with Hughes and Plouffe last year and will do it with Dozier this year. Once we watch a AA player struggle with the transition to mlb, we write 'em off and look at the next guy as a better option. In reality, Valencia, Plouffe, Revere, Hughes, Benson and Parmelee are all likely several steps more ready to break through and have a big impact, but that thought process isn't as fun when we watched them lose 99 together.
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