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  • Dozier's Disastrous Rookie Season

    Late in Sunday's game against the Rays, the Twins reached their breaking point with Brian Dozier.

    With the game tied and runners on the corners for Tampa in the 10th inning, the rookie shortstop scooped up a ground ball and took the sure out at first rather than throwing home to cut down the go-ahead run or attempting a tough inning-ending double play.

    After the game, Ron Gardenhire seemed to let Dozier off the hook:

    "I talked with him about what his thoughts were and he had good thoughts," Gardenhire said. "He knew the runners and the speed at third base. All we talked was situational baseball late in the game like that. Your two options are to try to turn the double play in my opinion or go home. But he had good thoughts. He got kind of screened by the runner after he caught the ball so that was his play. I just want to know his thoughts on the play. He's out there. We're not. Everybody has an opinion on where he should've thrown the ball.

    "But I'm going to back my player here. He did what he thought was right. He saw the speed, the whole package and got the out at first base. He's the one out there playing the game."
    And yet, Dozier sat on Monday. He sat again on Tuesday, and after the game it was announced he'd been demoted to Triple-A, with Pedro Florimon (and his .654 OPS in Rochester) coming up to replace him on the roster.

    It's a perplexing strategy for the Twins. Dozier will almost certainly be back up when rosters expand in September, making this a two-week demotion. How much good can that really do?


    At the same time, Dozier has been roundly awful for a full three months, so the move is easily justifiable. The only reasons he's lasted this long are because Gardenhire fiercely supports him and because he may be the organization's only hope for an internal solution at shortstop next year. Unfortunately, even those factors couldn't protect him after committing 15 errors (most for any AL shortstop despite the fact that he's only played in 84 games) while hitting .234/.271/.332, including .152/.237/.273 after what appeared to be a breakout three-hit game in Boston on August 2nd.

    Only one qualifying player in the majors (Justin Smoak) has a worse OPS than Dozier. In addition to his league-leading error total, he's had a number of misplays in the field Ė including Sunday's questionable and costly decision Ė that don't show up on the stat sheet. His plate discipline, which was a primary strength in the minors, has been dreadful, as he's drawn only 16 walks against 58 strikeouts in 340 plate appearances.

    Granted, the 25-year-old showed a few positive signs, namely some home run power and base-stealing proclivity, but this was an overwhelmingly discouraging major-league debut. At this point it's extremely difficult to look at him as a realistic starting option for next year. He just doesn't have any substantial strength to fall back on.

    Being sent to Triple-A after struggling in a major-league stint has been known to help young players in the past Ė look no further than Chris Parmelee for a recent example Ė and we can only hope that will happen here.

    But when you consider that Dozier was given an incredibly long leash, isn't all that young and was never an exceptional prospect to begin with, it's pretty tough to dismiss his initial struggles as a fluke. More than likely, he'll be another suspect among many others vying for a middle infield spot next year.

    Just another passenger on Minnesota's never-ending shortstop carousel.
    This article was originally published in blog: Dozier's Disastrous Rookie Season started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 55 Comments
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Interesting article!

      I think that sending him down and giving Florimon a chance makes a lot of sense. Dozier might be able to better relax and improve his game at AAA, and I look forward to seeing Florimon's defense.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      My only point would have been that sending him down a month ago would have made sense. Like Nick pointed out, there's just 2 1/2 weeks left at Rochester. Florimon is intriguing. I'm intrigued by his glove. We know he's not likely to hit a lot, but if he can be a plus-plus defensive shortstop, what happens?
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      I dont know that I would classify it as a disaster but more of this is who he is. Dozier is too old to be considered a decent prospect and the org rankings everywhere reflected that. Dozier has a chance to be a fair utility guy at best which has value. Levi Michael is a similar "too old for his level" guy with utility upside but at least the Twins didnt waste a first rounder on Dozier.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I think Nick is being a bit negative here. Baseball is littered with examples of people who didn't make it their first time around, and given that Dozier was hardly considered a big prospect, it's not surprising that he struggled. I do think he needs to earn his spot next year, but given his age, it isn't wise to write him off as a bust either. Let's see how he handles Rochester and how he does during his second stint before we call him a bust.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      I don't get it. If they thought this was necessary, it seems like the latest the move should have been made is August 1st. Doing it now doesn't make much sense.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Very odd timing for sure, would like to see him get some reps at 2b when he's called back up. Too early in my mind to start throwing in the towel on him.
    1. SeanS7921's Avatar
      SeanS7921 -
      His defense at short wasn't that bad, errors aren't a great stat to go by. His UZR was right around 0 with over 700+ innings. I don't get why he never took pitches or seemed to take coaching direction though. If he could have taken 15 more walks and worked the count he would have had on OBP of 315 or so. That would be adequate with his defense. He made a lot of dumb plays in the field but I think you could chalk that up to being a rookie. But yeah in reality he didn't seem to care to not be Delmon Young at the plate and he is pretty old to suck that bad.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Brian Dozier desperately needs some time away from the pressure of mlb ball, nothing to do with age, he's just emotionally fried right now. His hitting has been sporadic, his batting stance, mechanics and mental approach need work. He's also getting dangerously tentative at SS. In other words, he's starting to look like Nisihioka.

      Meanwhile, Pedro Florimon is hitting well enough to give him a look. Florimon's fielding reportedly is superb. Plug him in at short and don't worry. If Florimon shows he isn't overmatched at the plate, he could be next year's starting SS, maybe with Dozier at 2B.

      Two weeks is a short time, but Dozier needs a break from the pressure to regroup and get his form back. Maybe it's enough for the kid to relax. Personally I think he can be a solid major leaguer. I don't know why we worry so much about this over or under 25 stuff. If we decided everything on that, we would have missed Denard Span, Torii Hunter, and Sam Deduno.
    1. minn55441's Avatar
      minn55441 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I don't get it. If they thought this was necessary, it seems like the latest the move should have been made is August 1st. Doing it now doesn't make much sense.
      I agree, but I think a lot of the timing had to do with the fact that Plouffe was on the DL and they still wanted to give Nishi a shot. They didn't want to field an entirely new Middle infield. Now that Plouffe is back, Nishi's chance has come and gone they can get on with letting some of the other things play out.

      For me it comes down to "what do you want from your middle infielders"? Defense has to come first with this team. Let the other positions carry the offensive load. Granted we can't have a .190 hitter at short, but if we can get above average fielding at SS I can live with a .245 hitter with little power.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by minn55441 View Post
      For me it comes down to "what do you want from your middle infielders"? Defense has to come first with this team. Let the other positions carry the offensive load. Granted we can't have a .190 hitter at short, but if we can get above average fielding at SS I can live with a .245 hitter with little power.

      Agree. That's why I see no reason that the best defensive middle IF in this team (Casilla) should not be playing every day.

      I think the Dozier demotion might be to help him get down there, work with Brunanksy and build his confidence up. Also, auditioning Florimon makes sense because they would need to make some decisions for next season. Pretty excited to see a Florimon/Casilla DP combination, but I am not sure that is happening. Carroll was pretty atrocious at SS last night
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Who was the last infielder that came up thru the system that actually stuck and played quality baseball for several years?
      From the lat 90' to 2004 Rivas, Guzman, Koskie and Minty played together and were solid by all accounts. From that time nobody has had an extended amount of solid play other than Morneau. Doesn't that really say a lot about the drafting and scouting this team has?
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      yet no mention on Carroll's D last night in the postgame stuff. He's no longer a SS, but will likely command too many innings there.

      Lowered expectations with this team. Slug hitters in the middle is ok as long as they can play D.

      Shows what happens when the talent pool is thin.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      Who was the last infielder that came up thru the system that actually stuck and played quality baseball for several years?
      From the lat 90' to 2004 Rivas, Guzman, Koskie and Minty played together and were solid by all accounts. From that time nobody has had an extended amount of solid play other than Morneau. Doesn't that really say a lot about the drafting and scouting this team has?
      Absolutely. Same applies to pitching. They've done quite lousy overall of late.
    1. cr9617's Avatar
      cr9617 -
      We shouldn't be surprised by his struggles. One good season in the minors doesn't really mean all that much. Our media here talked him up like he was the next big thing. He's not.
      He looks like a utility guy to me.
    1. savvyspy's Avatar
      savvyspy -
      Just another example of the rudderless Twins front office chasing this fantasy that "there are no scholarships". That obviously only pertains to rookies who they feel the need to humiliate publicly to mask the fact that they have no plan and can't manage a roster. So its totally fine to trot Blackburn and Deunsing out there but you are drawing the line with Dozier??? That's ridiculous. Especially since you have NO ONE to replace him because you refuse to sign productive free agent or trade at the deadline to make your team better. The only thing guaranteed by this move is Florimon won't come close to batting .230 and isn't going to be an upgrade by really the only statistic that matters, wins. This isn't Dozier's fault. This is purely an organizational failure.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Bascially the Twins are saying that Joe Vavra can do nothing with Dozier & they need Brunansky to work with him for a couple wks.
      Remember how horrible Ben Revere was at the plate last yr....sometimes it takes an offseason for everything to sink in
      Dont know if they wanted to waste an option year tho....
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by savvyspy View Post
      Just another example of the rudderless Twins front office chasing this fantasy that "there are no scholarships". That obviously only pertains to rookies who they feel the need to humiliate publicly to mask the fact that they have no plan and can't manage a roster. So its totally fine to trot Blackburn and Deunsing out there but you are drawing the line with Dozier??? That's ridiculous. Especially since you have NO ONE to replace him because you refuse to sign productive free agent or trade at the deadline to make your team better. The only thing guaranteed by this move is Florimon won't come close to batting .230 and isn't going to be an upgrade by really the only statistic that matters, wins. This isn't Dozier's fault. This is purely an organizational failure.
      How in the world is it publicly humiliating a guy to send him down to the minors after he struggles for months on end? Once he comes up, he has to stay forever? Don't look now, but that's the problem you're ranting against.

      Over and over and over they've supported Dozier, said they think he can be a good major league shortstop, given him time and experience to grow and improve, and talked positively even about his mistakes. My goodness. StarTrib comment section is just down the street.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      So the Twins trade for the division leading White Sox's utility infielder and the Twins' system is so much better that he can't even beat Pedro Florimon to Target Field?
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      I thought a lot of Dozier's at-bats left something to be desired. Swinging early at pitcher's pitches, making a lot of soft contact, and a poor K/BB ratio. That said, I thought his defense had stabilized as acceptable and that he was playing fairly sound fundamental baseball.

      I didn't witness the extra inning play that seemed to ignite conflict, but seldom has a Twins player been criticized for taking a sure out.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Why not just keep Toshi as the reserve. We need the 40-man spot, two guys coming off the 60-day shortly which means two players have to be designated for assignment or waived.
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