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Thread: Shortstop and Center Field going forward

  1. #1
    Please ban me! All-Star stringer bell's Avatar
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    Shortstop and Center Field going forward

    First, let me say that I think the die has been cast. The Twins are in fourth in their division, 9 back and 7 back in the Wild Card. They aren't going to contend. It's time to look at 2015 and beyond.

    Dick Bremer recapped the first half of the season by saying that center field was a mess. He is right. There has been poor production and less than stellar defense from that position. The opening day center fielder is in limbo or Double A, or maybe both. The best offensive CF is a 23 year old shortstop. Ron Gardenhire has started fourth outfielder Sam Fuld there a lot and resorted to starting Chris Parmelee in center for a game. There isn't a player on the 40-man roster who could be looked at as more than a patch for center field, discounting the thoroughly confused and confusing Aaron Hicks.

    Bremer also made similar comments about shortstop. While there hasn't been any continuity, I don't think shortstop is broken, like center field is for the Twins. Yes, Pedro Florimon failed in 80 at-bats, but Eduardo Escobar has been very good, Danny Santana has been a revelation, and Eduardo Nuñez has shown that he is a big-league hitter and he can play shortstop. Somewhere in the latter three is a pretty good shortstop. Santana has shown enough for us fans to believe he could be more than pretty good, however he is currently injured and has only 143 plate appearances, not quite enough to say he's proven he can hit.

    Here's my take for both of the problem position for the Twins: Center Field--Sam Fuld is a capable center fielder, he shouldn't be considered to be a regular, but he's the best the Twins have right now. When Santana returns, he should play some center field as well. Why? Because the Twins need to see Santana get big-league at bats and they have other options at short. The only player in the high minors who could insert himself is Eddie Rosario. Rosario has recently slumped at New Britain, after serving a 50-game suspension. If he picks up the hitting and continues to be acceptable as a center fielder, I think the Twins could and should give him a chance.

    Shortstop--I think the Twins owe Escobar an extended audition. He also has slumped recently, but he still carries an OPS+ of 100 and he has demonstrated he's a plus fielder at the three infield positions. Escobar is just a year and a half older than Santana. He is getting his first taste of everyday play in the majors and I don't think he's overmatched. Meanwhile, Nuñez may be the SS of last resort, but he isn't a totally unattractive option. Nuñez has a pretty good bat, some power and good speed. He, like Escobar, is truly versatile. Certainly his defense has been a problem, but with some work that could be acceptable--he's got the range and arm to be good. I also question Santana's defense, not so much for what he's done in Minnesota, but what I saw and heard of him previously.

    To the point brought up several times, I think Escobar should get a shot at being a regular SS before the club gives the position to Danny Santana. What does everybody else think?

  2. #2
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    I would not have an issue with your plan, but mine is different. And, mine probably doesn't happen for a few weeks while teams oddly wait a month to add good players, decreasing their impact, and decreasing the likelihood they are needed.....

    1. Santana to SS
    2. Escobar to 3B
    3. Plouffe to LF or RF
    3a. If RF, Arcia to DH or AAA
    3b. If LF, Willingham traded
    4. Nunez backup 3B, SS, LF
    5. When Rosario is ready, to LF or CF (depending on what I did with Plouffe)
    6. In the meantime, Fuld in CF (sigh)

    However, like I said, if they put Santana in CF full time, that would not bother me at all, if Esco was at SS instead. I can see that logic.
    Lighten up Francis....

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    Please ban me! All-Star stringer bell's Avatar
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    Mike, one point you are making is creating room for Plouffe in the OF. I actually think that is a good idea except that I expect Saño to be in Rochester to start 2015. If Plouffe is supposed to be part of the outfield picture next year, he needs reps there. While I believe Plouffe has made progress at third, there has to be flexibility preparing for the arrival of Saño, who is a big deal.

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    That's my theory. I'd rather Plouffe be adjusting this year, even if we don't see Sano for 3 months or so next year. I think Plouffe could be Alex Gordon light in the OF. That has real value.
    Lighten up Francis....

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    I'd take it even further: Santana should be the primary CF when he returns (and Parm can take more reps there in the meantime). What's the point of playing Fuld? He does nothing for the present or the future. He has no business on a MLB team except as a replacement 4th OF (he's not even a particularly good CF). He's guaranteed to be off the 40-man roster by October if not sooner, and he will certainly be available on minor league deal in the offseason.

    We will need a non-Buxton CF better than Fuld for most of 2015, so might as well see if Santana can do it. And we for sure will need a SS in 2015+, so maximizing ABs for Santana and Escobar (and Nunez as #1 utility man) should be a priority.

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    Senior Member All-Star Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
    To the point brought up several times, I think Escobar should get a shot at being a regular SS before the club gives the position to Danny Santana. What does everybody else think?
    I thought this had been settled too. I thought Escobar won the job. This team is not good enough to have rotating defenders at their most important positions and still pretend to be a post season team. Unless they consider Escobar to have passed his audition and now want to give Nunez and Santana extended playing time there.

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    Senior Member Triple-A Danchat's Avatar
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    I have no worries about SS right now. Escobar is doing great, Nunez can be alright, Santana is good there, and Polanco is in the minors and looked pretty darn good.

    Fuld and Santana at CF though.... that's not good. Fuld can't hit, plus his throwing from the outfield has been... bad. I've seen him throw plenty of off-target throws out there. I can't really say what we should do. If there's a better CF than Fuld on waivers, take that guy.

    Too bad we couldn't sign Rajai Davis. I think he'd solve this CF dilemma.

  8. #8
    Escobar at short, Santana in center, Nunez as utility. Get Fuld out of there except as a true relief 4th or 5th OF. Escobar won the job and should stay there for the season so we can evaluate his bat. Same for Santana - let's find out if his bat truly plays at the Major level and if he can be the leadoff man going forward. You can't tell if they don't play.

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  10. #9
    Simple answer. Santana is CF stopgap until Buxton is ready. Nunez is SS stopgap until Santana or Polanco takes over. Escobar utility.

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    I think the Twins should do what they can to win games. WHile they have a frustrating record, they do have an easier schedule this month. If they are not at least .500 by the end of the month then they should shift gears for next year.

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    Plouffe is not an outfielder. Leave him at 3B--Sano isn't a guaranteed success there! Santana doesn't belong in CF--there has been enough evidence of him there. The Twins should either just hand the job over to Buxton and hold there noses until he succeeds or sign a free agent CF to play there for two years ("overpaying" if necessary). SS--play Escobar there for the rest of the year--with Santana playing everyday at Rochester (and sing Happy Trails to Florimon). Then decide what to do next season at SS between Escobar and Santana.

  13. #12
    The more Santana plays in CF the better he'll get. Santana has ignited this lineup. Why oh why oh why would you put him on the bench? He has to play either SS or CF. I'm all for signing a stopgap CF next year and moving Santana back to SS. Escobar has to be a utility player.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marta Shearing View Post
    The more Santana plays in CF the better he'll get. Santana has ignited this lineup. Why oh why oh why would you put him on the bench? He has to play either SS or CF. I'm all for signing a stopgap CF next year and moving Santana back to SS. Escobar has to be a utility player.
    I am curious in how you are so certain that Escobar must be a utility player and Santana a CF.

    They have nearly identical OPS at high A at 21. Escobar advanced to AA earlier at 21 and played more AAA while Santana played a full season of AA. Combined they are not significantly different. They both have been young for their leagues. They both have poor K/BB ratios. Santana has stolen more bases while Escobar was consistently ranked the best defensive infielder in the a White Sox system.

    They both profile as utility players, but I see nothing and that would set Santana apart. If Escobar is truly the better defensive shortstop, he can probably outlast any offensive struggles that are certain to occur with any player with poor k/bb rates. Santana's speed will help him when he isn't hitting well.
    Last edited by jorgenswest; 07-02-2014 at 06:39 PM.

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    Twins Moderator MVP ashburyjohn's Avatar
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    At the start of the year I viewed Escobar's ceiling as a utility infielder on a good team or a starter for a few years on a bad team. I'm happy for his start but I'll stick with my forecast. I'd prefer to try for a self-fulfilling prophecy with an eye toward better days in 2015-7, and use Esco-bear all over the infield. Over the course of 4 days, start Plouffe at 3rd 3 days, Dozier at 2nd 3 or all 4 days, Santana at short 3 days, and Escobar at each of the positions to cover the starter's day off. This gives them all nearly "starter's minutes", and enough PAs and defensive innings to make sure of what we've got. Squeeze in some time for Nunez in all this.

    For center, I hate spreading Santana's defensive development thinner by giving him more than emergency time out there. Let Fuld get more innings out there than he deserves, unless and until a low-cost acquisition of someone better is achieved or until Hicks proves himself ready again. Parmelee can be an embarrassment as a backup there - just desserts to the organization for botching the plan for a backup plan in case Hicks didn't pan out again. (And for the record, I thought Hicks would succeed this time - but that doesn't mean having essentially no backup until Fuld was snagged off of waivers.)
    Last edited by ashburyjohn; 07-02-2014 at 06:59 PM.

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    Senior Member All-Star Sconnie's Avatar
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    1) there's no guarantees with Sano sticking at 3rd, leave Plouffe at 3rd until Sano is imminent to the bigs at 3rd. He might need to move to first or DH as a result of TJ. Give Plouffe some off season winter ball OF instructions.
    2) I think Escobar is a fantastic utility guy, I like the plan of rotating him in on a schedule.
    3) I think Nunez is a very good bench bat
    4) I'd like Santana to get extensive SS time in the bigs.
    5) As much as it pains me to say this, Sam Fuld is the best CF option the Twins have without stunting Santana's SS development. I hope Rosario can make his way to the Twins as a CF or a cheap but adequate AAA CF stopgap (maybe Hicks if he becomes adequate)becomes available soon.
    "If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant a tree today."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danchat View Post
    Too bad we couldn't sign Rajai Davis. I think he'd solve this CF dilemma.
    Davis didn't want to come here, but we could have had Emilio Bonofacio for nothing (although he's out right now with a right oblique strain.)

    Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
    They both profile as utility players, but I see nothing and that would set Santana apart. If Escobar is truly the better defensive shortstop, he can probably outlast any offensive struggles that are certain to occur with any player with poor k/bb rates. Santana's speed will help him when he isn't hitting well.
    What sets Santana apart is that he is an ignitor. He was an excellent leadoff guy. The main talents that set him apart are his arm as a fielder, his lightning speed, and both his ability and willingness to steal bases (which Escobar lacks).

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    Senior Member All-Star Bark's Lounge's Avatar
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    In my Mind's eye - I am cool as a cucumber with Escobar, Santana and Nunez at SS. I believe Nunez is the better batsman, Escobar is the better fielder, and Santana is the better athlete and X-factor (X=Exciting). One or a combination of these guys will get the job done this season and next, not without any hick-ups mind you, but this is one of the least of my concerns.

    The whole CF situation is abysmal. It will probably be Fuld who plays most of the time the rest of the season - which cuts off about 15% of my interest in watching the last half of the season - not a big fan. A lot has been said about Aaron Hicks' baseball state of mind and he has earned those criticisms. I would feel a bit more comfortable if Hicks had stuck to his guns and abandoned switch hitting - he didn't and that makes him look worse in my book. You are 24 years old, make a decision and stick to it. 24 is semi-young adulthood, there should be no reason for the teeter-tawter decision making process. I still have hope for Hicks, but he is down to his last strike in my book.

    The best case scenario this season is having Rosario go on a tear and he miraculously ascends to the majors in late July/early August and takes the reigns in CF - giving the Twins fans some reason to have optimism for the final two months of the 2014 season and beyond, until Buxton is ready (if he pans out). To me this last paragraph is a pipe dream.

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    I see Ploufe's role post-Sano as a platoon DH and occasional OF'er. He's never hit well enough to be an automatic every day player, but he's a good bench player who should play 3-4 days a week against lefties and an occasional righty. That said, leave him at 3B until Sano is ready. Escobar there is not a great idea, IMO.

    SS/CF is trickier. Ultimately. Santana should be the Opening Day SS in 2015. But how much harm are you really doing playing him in CF in the meantime? He seemed to pick SS back up fine when Fuld arrived. Therefore, Escobar at SS and Santana in CF is clearly our best option for now. I would roll with this at least until Sept. or until a real CF'er is acquired at for Willingham/Suzuki.

    Suzuki should be moved at the deadline and Pinto up to catch the rest of the season.

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    Almost every place one goes Pinto is viewed as a not very good fielding catcher so I posit on a team that is building albeit slowly a different option will have to be found.

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    Senior Member Triple-A DocBauer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bark's Lounge View Post
    In my Mind's eye - I am cool as a cucumber with Escobar, Santana and Nunez at SS. I believe Nunez is the better batsman, Escobar is the better fielder, and Santana is the better athlete and X-factor (X=Exciting). One or a combination of these guys will get the job done this season and next, not without any hick-ups mind you, but this is one of the least of my concerns.

    The whole CF situation is abysmal. It will probably be Fuld who plays most of the time the rest of the season - which cuts off about 15% of my interest in watching the last half of the season - not a big fan. A lot has been said about Aaron Hicks' baseball state of mind and he has earned those criticisms. I would feel a bit more comfortable if Hicks had stuck to his guns and abandoned switch hitting - he didn't and that makes him look worse in my book. You are 24 years old, make a decision and stick to it. 24 is semi-young adulthood, there should be no reason for the teeter-tawter decision making process. I still have hope for Hicks, but he is down to his last strike in my book.

    The best case scenario this season is having Rosario go on a tear and he miraculously ascends to the majors in late July/early August and takes the reigns in CF - giving the Twins fans some reason to have optimism for the final two months of the 2014 season and beyond, until Buxton is ready (if he pans out). To me this last paragraph is a pipe dream.
    Generally speaking, I agree with Bark's thoughts here.

    Rewind your memory just a couple seasons ago, reflect over more than that even, and except for one OK season of Hudson and Hardy in the infield, which was nonetheless a bit of a letdown overall, and what have the Twins had for a keystone combo? Those spots have been filled with angst and even incompetance, except for Punto, as a quality utility guy only. Now, I don't point out the obvious to begin gnashing of teeth over Punto or dumping Hardy, but rather, as proof of how far our infield situation has, apparently, come in such a short period of time. Even when the season began, many were doubting the viability of Dozier, and even Florimon supporters were really just hoping for solid stop-gap play. Dozier has proved to be very real, Escobar has been a revelation thus far, (though I'm still upset with his handling over the past couple of weeks), Nunez has shown to be a decent bat and decent role player, and Santana shows real promise and has been a huge spark plug with excitement and possibilities. I haven't felt this good about the Twins middle infield in years, and I think we should all feel this way.

    Despite botching CF this year, I also thought Hicks would start to show improvement, at least enough to stick around, and probably have a better second half of the season. He's been mishandled, no doubt, but I also really question the switch back to switch hitting.

    In my opinion, for the balance of the season, Escobar continues as your primary SS. Not only does he flat out deserve it, but why would you mess with something that is working? Now, he can still fill in at 3B and 2B to give Plouffe and Dozier days off. I would continue to keep Santana in the mix at SS 2-3 days a week, however, to continue his experience and growth there. But Fuld is not part of the future, you have to keep Santana in the lineup, while inexperienced in CF, he's been better than I anticipated, has actually shown some improvement, and if full-time SS is not in his future, perhaps inf/of utility or LF starter and exciting top of the order hitter he might be.

    This off season, you simply have to aquire a decent, solid, ML caliber and capable CF option to go to ST with. This mystery man may start, he may platoon, or he may be a solid 4th OF if someone comes on strong. You're not going to invest heavy in a top player due to Buxton, nor would a player of that caliber want to come here with Buxton in the wings. Personally, I'd also sign a decent AAA-AAAA role player to help fill out Rochester's roster, and give you a fall back, fill-in type player available if necessary.

    2015 ST, you have the previously mentioned youngsters for SS and the infield, plus a couple lower level youngsters on the 40 man. You have said FA signee battling for the CF position with Rosario, if he continues to play well the remainder of the season, the AAAA hopeful, Hicks again, and Santana as a possible. And this is until Buxton is ready at some point, or at worse, a better patch-work 2015 than we've had in 2014.

    And since hes he's been mentioned, Plouffe is your 3B, for at least the start of 2015. No poor reflection on Sano, but even 100% healthy, with a few weeks to a month of DH in the minors to close out this year, and time in the AFL or winter leagues, it would be asking a lot to expect him to take over day 1. And while I still feel we have yet to see Plouffe reach his potential ceiling, his growth as a ball player this season, talent I believe is still untapped, I am of the belief we might have another potential Cuddyer or Cuddie-light on our hands. Just not to start out 2015.

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