The Twins OutfieldPublished 4:33pm Friday, February 24, 2012
Today we are going to look at the Twins outfield as they start up here in spring training. This season there will be a lot of new faces and young players looking to make the team as a starter or backup.
Since last season the Twins have lost Delmon Young in a trade to Detroit and Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel to Colorado and Arizona. These guys have been main stays in the outfield for a few years now and they are not going to be that easily replaced.
The one returning member of the outfield is centerfielder Denard Span. Span is a very good defensive outfielder and a fine leadoff hitter so having him back is a plus. The problem with Span is the same thing the Twins have been saying about a lot of their players, is he going to be healthy. Span along with Kubel was having a great season up until around the All Star break when he suffered the dreaded concussion. Like with all cases like this, we just don’t know how long he will last without having symptoms. If he does stay healthy, it will be nice to have him patrolling centerfield and leading off this season.
The Twins lost Delmon Young and Michael Cuddyer who provided the Twins with some power from the right side of the plate. To replace some of that the Twins signed free agent Josh Willingham from Oakland. Josh had a nice season with the A’s hitting 29 home runs and driving in 98 while hitting .246. Although he did strikeout 150 times, I don’t care as long as he can hit some home runs and drive in a bunch. He also has been reported to be a nice guy and a good clubhouse guy so Twins fans should take a liking to him much as they did Cuddyer. I think this was a great signing and he will look real good in the middle of the lineup. He is scheduled to play right field this year after playing mostly in left field but I am sure he can adjust.
So far Gardy has pronounced Ben Revere to be his left fielder. Revere came up last year to replace Span and did an ok job. He does not hit for power and should be a singles type hitter and steal some bases. He is very exciting to watch on the base paths so when he does hit one in the gap, this kid can fly! The achillies heel for Revere is that he doesn’t have a great throwing arm which is why he is scheduled for left field where it isn’t quite as much of a factor. I think the bad throwing arm is a little over blown especially in Revere’s case. This guy made some fantastic catches last season and quite frankly made some that I’m not sure Span could have made. I figure with his speed and catching ability he saves more or at least as many runs as he would lose with a poor throw. With that said, if Willingham can’t adjust to right field Span could move there and Revere could go back to center and I would be fine with that.
The next contender for outfield time will be Trevor Plouffe. I was disappointed that Plouffe didn’t take the shortstop job last year and run with it when he had the chance but he didn’t. He had some short comings, no pun intended, at shortstop but he does have a good bat. He had good average and power numbers at AAA before being called up and showed some of that power with the Twins. He hit over 20 home runs splitting time with Rochester and Minnesota. I here he has gone on a weight program this winter and has added more muscle so he seems ready to go. There may be some concerns early on with his defense in the outfield after years as an infielder but being a right handed hitter in this lineup if he can hit he would have to be a complete thug as an outfielder not to play him. Personally I would like to see a platoon with Revere and Plouffe in the outfield and see if one of them steps up and takes the job on his own, if not the platoon may work nicely. Only problem is Gardy doesn’t understand what that word means.
We have talked about the fact the Twins went into last season without any backup plans at a lot of positions in case something goes wrong, which it did last year. Let’s look at who the Twins have to back up these four guys who are pretty much a lock to make the roster. One, who will also make the roster, is Ryan Doumit but I really don’t think he will ever play the outfield. I see him as a DH, catcher and first baseman, but he has played the outfield so he could help if needed. Two players who played some last year are Rene Tosoni and Joe Bensen. Tosoni is a left handed hitter and showed some power with 5 home runs for the Twins and a few of them were big and meaningful ones. He didn’t hit much for average early but came on pretty good in the end. Benson struggled a little when he came up late in the year but I thought he was just plain trying too hard. What I saw was a pretty darn good athlete who I think has a good upside. These two guys will be in AAA and may be the first ones called up in case anything goes wrong.
The Twins have four other interesting players in the outfield that will be starting out in the minors waiting their turn. One I am curious about is Matt Carson. He came up late last year with Oakland and hit 5 home runs in just 46 games. Like a power hitter he does strike out some but he has been a very productive hitter in the minors. He is also 30 years old so he doesn’t have a lot of time left to prove himself, but with a great spring and a good start in AAA who knows. Another guy to look for is Darin Mastroianni. He is more of a defensive specialist who can play all three outfield positions and he has a lot of speed and stole a lot of bases in minor league ball.
The above players you may see play for the Twins this season even if it is just September call ups. Two more players are also interesting. One is Oswaldo Arcia who I know the Twins are high on. Looking at his minor league stats he has average power and can hit for average. The last guy is Wilken Ramirez who the Twins plucked out of the Atlanta organization this past winter. Ramirez is 26 and a right handed hitter who has displayed some decent power numbers in the minors. Sometimes just a change of scenery to another club is all a guy needs to perform. I will be watching him.
Anyway there is a look at the outfielders. I assume the team will carry only four outfielders and they will more than likely be Span, Willingham, Revere, and Plouffe. The only way the Twins keep five outfielders is if someone else has a great spring and he wants his bat on the bench or he wants a Repko type guy who can play all three positions and play good defense. That player I think would be Mastroianni.
Next up, catcher and the bench.