Where Does Carroll Fit In?
by, 09-23-2012 at 11:26 PM (1563 Views)
During the first half of the season, Jamey Carroll seemed to be showing his age. By the All-Star break, he was hitting .234 with a brutal .597 OPS, and he had long since lost his job as the team's starting shortstop. He was certainly making his two-year, $6.5 million contract look like a poor investment.
Since the break, Carroll has looked more like the player the Twins thought they were getting. After finishing 2-for-5 in the nightcap of yesterday's doubleheader, the veteran is now hitting .306/.369/.361 since the Midsummer Classic, a line that compares favorably against his .290/.368/.344 output over the two seasons prior.
Even though he hasn't been able to authoritatively claim any position this year, Carroll has clearly been one of Ron Gardenhire's go-to guys, as he ranks fifth on the team with 518 plate appearances. And his production over the past few months has warranted the tread he's gotten. Even though he lacks any semblance of power and he's not a spectacular defender, a .750 OPS from a middle infielder is none too shabby.
So how will Carroll figure into next year's plans? Presently, the team lacks solidity at either middle-infield spot, and relatively speaking, he looks like a pretty appealing option. Then again, it appears that the manager has lost faith in his abilities at shortstop, given that he drawn only nine starts at the position since losing his regular job there in early May.
There's another dynamic in play when assessing Carroll's 2013 role. He has a 2014 option in his contract that becomes guaranteed if he reaches 401 plate appearances next year. Granted, that option is only for $2 million, but he'll be 40 years old in '14 and he's already shown signs of decline this year in spite of his strong second half.
What do you think? Should the Twins move forward planning on having Carroll as their starter at second (or even short) next year with the hopes that his post-break performance is a sign of things to come? Or should they keep him in a utility role, hoping to fill the middle-infield spots with younger players that are potential building blocks, while at the same time improving their chances of avoiding that 2014 option?