• 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 including Sunday's questionable and costly decision 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 look no further than Chris Parmelee for a recent example 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. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
      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.
      I think too much has been made of that one play simply because it was the last thing he did, essentially. In live action, both my friend and I at the game thought he had no play other than the one he made (contrary to common belief, sitting in the stands isn't always/often the best vantage point to tell those things). The guy next to us thought he should have tried to start the double-play. When I caught the re-airing later, I thought he should have gone home. Even there, Blyleven thought one thing initially and then with the help of replay after the pitching change thought maybe something else (I forget which was his first and which was his subsequent reaction). Gardenhire has said in a bunch of outlets (although he may have only said it once and it was just reported several) that he liked Dozier's thoughts and process and only thought that in that very specific game situation that he maybe should have made a different choice (and had to go to video to show him what he meant and used it as a teachable moment). He also pointed out that Dozier was the one out in the fire and that the information he had wasn't the same as what someone watching might have. I'm rambling, but the point is, I don't think that play had much to do with any decisions on Dozier.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      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.
      Well I agree partly with the Blackie part, although he got sent down at one point this year as well, was that to humiliate him? Duensing is only starting (which he shouldn't be) because Pavano is a mess and Hendriks is working on his super-duper Tilt-a Whirl pitch before he gets called back up. With all the other gaping holes this team had to fill last off-season and cut payroll, what were they to spend on a free agent MI other than Carroll or who were they going to give up on in trade?

      I don't see Dozier's demotion as a humiliation, it should have come earlier but's it not designed to embarrass him, plus at this point I really don't think it needs to be something we sell our soul to fill for next year.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      not quite sure why teh FO/Gardy is getting heat here. My complaint with Gardy in particular is that he never lets rookies work through things... he did exactly that with Dozier. I do think he should have gone down a bit sooner, but injuries might have forced that a bit... Hopefully teh kid can put things back together in Rochester and force his way on to the team next season.
    1. ossieO's Avatar
      ossieO -
      Quote Originally Posted by minn55441 View Post
      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.
      I agree Plouffe's DL stint was probably a factor. I also think Florimon was on the DL recently, so there was perhaps a lack of options when thinking about a Dozier demotion.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      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.
      Good point--dont Hicks and Arcia have to be added this winter too??

      I do not understand timing--2 weeks in Rochester will not do much...

      This all goes back to the Delmon trade...we wouldnt be having this discussion if Jason Bartlett was still here.
    1. 108 Double Stitches's Avatar
      108 Double Stitches -
      My guess its a message -- don't get too comfortable. And Dozier' level of production isn't enough in the long run.

      I was kind of comformtablely numb with Dozier's play. Low expectations and bigger problems elsewhere on the roster. Even if you can't expect much skill improvement in 2 weeks, maybe an attitude or wake up call can be made. A little reminder that come spring training, ss will at the very least be an open competition.0
    1. SeanS7921's Avatar
      SeanS7921 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Ed View Post
      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.
      Carroll just missed a great play early in the game and had a crazy hop that was hardly his fault. If you look at advanced stats he has been exceptional at SS, great at 3B and awesome at 2B. The guy can flat out field.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by DAM DC Twins Fans View Post
      we wouldnt be having this discussion if Jason Bartlett was still here.
      he hit .133/.240/.193 in a month for the Padres this season, after hitting .245/.308/.307 last season, and has been on the DL since mid May... not much of a solution at this point. He is 32, been hurt multiple times and past his prime
    1. Curt's Avatar
      Curt -
      I would not call Dozier's season a disaster but he has played poorly. He certainly has not played well enough to warrant a starting position in the major leagues or even a roster spot and it makes sense to give someone else a shot.

      I'm glad he got a chance and I hoped he would succeed. I still would like that. If Dozier has what it takes, he'll be back. He might just stick then. If the Twins have anyone in their org who will lock onto the starting shortstop position and hold it they are doing a good job of keeping it a secret.

      The Twins are not punishing Dozier. It's tough to earn a major league job and the competition for it should be fierce.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      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.
      I agree with this. We needed to have tempered expectations from the very beginning, but what Dozier has done isn't really out of the ordinary. He's a rookie who struggled. What else is new?

      Hopefully, the demotion will give him a message that he's got to listen to the coaches and earn it on the field, but I don't think there's any embarrassment there. Nor should there be. I still have hopes that Dozier will be more than a utility guy. Maybe he won't stick at his position for a decade plus, but he could stick around longer than we think.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by cr9617 View Post
      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.
      This.

      I understand that Dozier hasn't been good. I'm okay with classifying him as a somewhat "bad" baseball player right now. But to say that he's season has been a "disaster" indicates that there was some expectation he was going to be this plus defender with a great bat right out of the gate. In reality, he was a post-hype prospect before he ever got here, and if even his glove had been decent, we'd have called him up last year.

      I don't think there was any realistic expectation for Dozier to be an MLB starter. This is the problem with Twins fans - they just assume that the next guy in line in AAA is the next Mauer, Morneau, or Kubel....or at least a "prospect" of some kind. That isn't always the case, and the Twins' farm system just hasn't been producing those 22-25 year old guys recently. Plouffe may be the one exception, if he stays productive.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
      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.
      I agree that Levi Michael is a future utility infielder in the majors, but how can you say he's too old for his level? He turned 21 in February, so he's about 21.5 years old. The average hitter on the Ft. Myers Miracle roster is 22.5, and the average age of a hitter in the Florida State League is 22.7.
    1. tomcat's Avatar
      tomcat -
      Running players back and forth between Mpls and Rochester appears to be Twins management way of demonstrating they are in control and are keen evaluators of players talents. I believe it shows just the opposite, they are throwing darts at board hoping someone will prove capable of positively contributing for longer than two weeks at a time. Ryan needs to be put out to pasture.
    1. one_eyed_jack's Avatar
      one_eyed_jack -
      Quote Originally Posted by StormJH1 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by cr9617 View Post
      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.
      This.

      I understand that Dozier hasn't been good. I'm okay with classifying him as a somewhat "bad" baseball player right now. But to say that he's season has been a "disaster" indicates that there was some expectation he was going to be this plus defender with a great bat right out of the gate. In reality, he was a post-hype prospect before he ever got here, and if even his glove had been decent, we'd have called him up last year.

      I don't think there was any realistic expectation for Dozier to be an MLB starter. This is the problem with Twins fans - they just assume that the next guy in line in AAA is the next Mauer, Morneau, or Kubel....or at least a "prospect" of some kind. That isn't always the case, and the Twins' farm system just hasn't been producing those 22-25 year old guys recently. Plouffe may be the one exception, if he stays productive.
      And this. No doubt he hasn't been playing well and deserved to be sent down. But his stint up here wasn't a total loss. He made some nice plays in the field, and showed he has some pop in his bat. So the term 'disastrous' strikes me as a bit of an overstatement. Nishioka was disastrous. Dozier is a rookie who struggled in his first stint in the majors, but you at least some glimpses of a competent MLB player.
    1. SydneyTwinsFan's Avatar
      SydneyTwinsFan -
      "Disaster" seems a bit harsh from my perspective. His plate discipline has been disappointing given his minor league track record, but a rookie needing to make adjustments in this regard is nothing new. In the field he's made some errorrs, but has shown decent range and turned his share of double plays. I'd like to think he can come back up later in the year or next season and show a competent ML skill set. At least he's cheap - Dozier + $6m > JJ Hardy.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      I don't think Dozier was a disaster either. I also think it far too early to decide he is a utility player. He is really no worse than Bartlett was in his first go round with the Twins.

      An interesting question is why send him down now? My take on the answer is Ryan is trying to figure out what he has for next year. Florimon is probably not the answer as the starting SS but if he is even a temporary answer or a potential utility man, well that is one less thing to look for this off season. Assuming they still view Dozier as the medium term solution at short, then maybe they don't add a middle infielder or they target a 2b and let Florimon/Carroll handle short until Dozier is really ready.

      Ryan has indicated that he thinks there is more to fix than just starting pitching. He hasn't been all that specific on what he thinks needs changing/fixing. I am beginning to think that while he won't blow up the team, he will make more significant changes than just sign a couple of free agent pitchers.
    1. peterb18's Avatar
      peterb18 -
      Quote Originally Posted by SeanS7921 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Ed View Post
      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.
      Carroll just missed a great play early in the game and had a crazy hop that was hardly his fault. If you look at advanced stats he has been exceptional at SS, great at 3B and awesome at 2B. The guy can flat out field.
      Carroll is just a good baseball player. I really enjoy watching him play. If Dozier and Michael after over 3,000 at bats have a .274 lifetime average and can play the field like Jamie, the Twins would be very happy!
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by SydneyTwinsFan View Post
      "Disaster" seems a bit harsh from my perspective. His plate discipline has been disappointing given his minor league track record, but a rookie needing to make adjustments in this regard is nothing new. In the field he's made some errorrs, but has shown decent range and turned his share of double plays. I'd like to think he can come back up later in the year or next season and show a competent ML skill set. At least he's cheap - Dozier + $6m > JJ Hardy.
      This simply is untrue. Hardy is most certainly not having a great year at the plate, in large part due to the luck factor involved with his numbers being pulled down by a low BABIP (.235), but his fielding has stayed at a near elite level. But the WAR numbers completely contradict what you state:

      Hardy WAR 1.1 Value $5M FLD 5.6 (Baseball Reference WAR: 1.5/RAR 16)
      Dozier WAR 0.0 Value -$0.1M FLD -0.9 (Baseball Reference WAR: 0.4/RAR 5)

      As a true Gardy guy, Dozier will get plenty more chances at SS or 2B, I agree that he has shown enough flashes to have earned those extra second chances.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by SydneyTwinsFan View Post
      "Disaster" seems a bit harsh from my perspective. His plate discipline has been disappointing given his minor league track record, but a rookie needing to make adjustments in this regard is nothing new. In the field he's made some errorrs, but has shown decent range and turned his share of double plays. I'd like to think he can come back up later in the year or next season and show a competent ML skill set. At least he's cheap - Dozier + $6m > JJ Hardy.
      This simply is untrue. Hardy is most certainly not having a great year at the plate, in large part due to the luck factor involved with his numbers being pulled down by a low BABIP (.235), but his fielding has stayed at a near elite level. But the WAR numbers completely contradict what you state:

      Hardy WAR 1.1 Value $5M FLD 5.6 (Baseball Reference WAR: 1.5/RAR 16)
      Dozier WAR 0.0 Value -$0.1M FLD -0.9 (Baseball Reference WAR: 0.4/RAR 5)

      As a true Gardy guy, Dozier will get plenty more chances at SS or 2B, I agree that he has shown enough flashes to have earned those extra second chances.
      Can you buy 1.1 or 1.2 WAR with that extra $6 million? I think you can. And if so, the math works.

      Basically what I'm saying is that nobody really thinks that Dozier is better than Hardy at the moment. But is Dozier minus $6 million in salary commitment better than an over the hill shortstop with good defense, too many injuries, and no bat? Yeah, probably.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      The question keeps coming up why they waited until now. Here's my absolutely non-factual, non-informed guess. They had talked about it--maybe were even ready to do it--and then Plouffe got hurt leaving them an infielder short. OK, we'll keep him up. Plouffe then needs to miss more time than they thought, and they still need to keep him up plus they bring up Nishioka. Nishioka plays three of the worst games anyone can remember. And now it would be ridiculous to send Dozier down while Nishioka is still with the team. But they keep Nishioka over the weekend as emergency backup with no Plouffe, send him down, and then send Dozier down after Plouffe is back. Wouldn't it make more sense if he had been sent down three weeks ago? And it fits with some comments from even before the move was made that they had been discussing it for a while.

      To reiterate, that's complete conjecture, but I'm a little bored tonight.
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