An Interview and The Outfield

4 Oct

Yesterday, Kevin Lewis of a new Twins blog called Twin Nation asked me if I would do an interview for his site. I was happy to. You can see the full interview here, but here is one question that I think will be a big one for the Twins and their fans this offseason. There were several more (and I get wordy!)


KL: I think one of the biggest questions I have for the ball club heading into the 2009 season is what are we going to do about our outfield situation. Now that Michael Cuddyer is healthy again, we will have five outfielders who are capable of playing everyday. I would imagine Carlos Gomez has centerfield nailed down. But then that leaves the corners up for grabs. In left field, we have Jason Kubel and Delmon Young. Then in right field, we have Michael Cuddyer and Denard Span. If you were Ron Gardenhire, what would your approach be for the outfield situation?

SS: First, if I’m Bill Smith, I would keep them all just in case of injury or regression. For Gardy, I do think that he will have to find a way to keep them all active and fresh and put them into situations that they can succeed. Ideally, you work out a situation with the following playing time breakdown. All five will/can play eight out of ten games.

LFDelmon Young – 7 times per 10 games

CF – Carlos Gomez – 8 times per 10 games

RF – Michael Cuddyer – 7 times per 10 game

DH – Jason Kubel – 8 times per 10 games

That leaves Denard Span. I think he is the outfielder most capable of playing all three outfield positions well. I would have him play 3 out of 10 games in LF, 2 out of 10 games in CF and 3 games out of 10 in RF. That makes him the team’s lead-off hitter at least eight out of ten games. I think that Delmon Young and Michael Cuddyer can DH at least once every 10 games. Obviously Jason Kubel can play the corners once in awhile or in case of injury.

I would run with that through about 90-100 games. They will work out the playing time down the final month or two and hopefully all will remain healthy and fresh.

I’m heading to the Gophers football game against Indiana this morning. Should be fun. Maybe the Gophers can even win a Big 10 game! But please discuss. Can it work with each playing 8 out of 10 games? I think depth is important, so is keeping people fresh. There will be injuries and you can’t assume everyone has a good year. I’m not saying this is the right answer or the best answer, but I do think it could work and would be good.

Thanks again to Kevin Lewis, and please check out Twin Nation.


14 Responses to “An Interview and The Outfield”

  1. TT October 4, 2008 at 9:51 am #

    Unless he regresses, I think they will find a way to keep Span at the top of the batting order. Which means less time for Gomez and Cuddyer in the outfield. Cuddyer will probably get a lot of at bats in a platoon with Kubel as DH. I would also not be surprised if he saw some playing time spelling Morneau at first base.

    That is assuming no one comes knocking on the Twins door looking to make a deal for one of their outfielders.

  2. mbrian33 October 4, 2008 at 12:25 pm #

    I really hope the Twins do not even think about dealing Young. A lot of people seem to think citing his age is some kind of excuse to cover up poor performance, but I’ll say it again anyway–he just turned 23. Delmon is still younger than about half the position players in Seth’s top 50 prospect list. He’s younger than Valencia, Hughes, Tolleson, Dinkelman, Pridie, etc. and less than a year older than Plouffe. As a 22 year old Young was a league average hitter (OPS+ 100). His walks increased slightly and his strikeouts decreased slightly from the previous year.

    I’d like to see the Twins remain patient with Young and Gomez. Watching them play their age 25-28 seasons in Twins uniforms could be special.

  3. Cory October 4, 2008 at 1:06 pm #

    Why can’t the Twins move Cuddyer to 3rd? That solves the issue of TOO many bodies to play in the outfield, and then if one of them do actually get injured, Cuddyer could move out there again.

    I know I don’t want Span out of the top of the order, and I don’t know why Young or Gomez should sit 2 or 3 out of every 10 games, that doesn’t help anything either.

  4. thrylos98 October 4, 2008 at 4:26 pm #

    Rotating outfield might be a good idea (as would have been rotating 3B and SS and maybe 2B in September); however it is not in Gardy’s DNA to manage like that.

    He has set roles in his mind about who is a starter, where someone bats in the batting order (it took 2 months for Span to unseat Gomez on the top of the order; and I do not think that Redmond when started batter in other position than 3rd), whenever a reliever comes in and how many batters he faces, no matter recent performance, etc…

    Good idea, but Smith has to save Gardy from himself and deal Cuddyer in a package

  5. Seth October 4, 2008 at 9:02 pm #

    Maybe have Gomez play CF 7 out of 10 with Span there three games. That would mean he would play 9 out of 10 and of course, he would be your leadoff hitter in those nine games.

    The guy who isn’t playing is likely your best pinch-hitter in that game too, something that shouldn’t be forgotten.

    Cuddyer’s been at 3B. I just don’t think it makes any sense to move him back. He’s not good there. He’s not comfortable. He’s a very solid RF with an excellent arm. Just leave him there.

    It would be a hard deal to impliment because of matchups. If they face 6 straight lefties again at some point, maybe Kubel only plays 6 out of 10 games in that stretch. It’s all about putting the right people in situations in which they have the best opportunity to succeed. We also have to assume that not everyone will remain healthy at all tmies.

    And there is no way I would trade Cuddyer. He’s too valuable to this team.

  6. TT October 5, 2008 at 8:33 am #

    And there is no way I would trade Cuddyer. He’s too valuable to this team.

    He’s a lot less valuable if he is taking at bats away from Span, Gomez, Young and Kubel. And vice versa. There aren’t five spots available. The Twins might be better off dealing one of them and having Pridie on the bench.

    I also think it is important to remember that these guys have all shown they can hold up playing every day. And anyone is going to be a better player playing every day than if they are coming off the bench. Rotating players around id probably going to make the team weaker everywhere.

    I think Kubel is the least valuable of all the outfielders and is probably the one to be dealt. But there is the potential that will really come back to bite you. Its not clear we have seen Kubel’s potential yet.

    On the other hand, I think we have seen Cuddyer’s. But I am not sure, with his injuries, that he has a huge value in the trade market.

    I would not deal Gomez or Young because they both have huge upsides. They are the kinds of players that might become part of a core that succeeds Mauer and Morneau.

    Its an interesting problem and Iam curious to see how the Twins deal with it. My vote would be to do nothing and see how things develop next spring. I think the trade market will probably be just as good for any of them early next season. And the Twins will know more about what they have and what their needs are.

  7. Big D October 5, 2008 at 9:36 am #

    Depth is a good problem to have. I think it makes sense to get them all playing time. I think that Cuddyer should see a good amount of time at first base early in the season. A rotation like we see between Mauer and Redman makes sense. I think anyone who thinks playing every game all season didn’t effect Morneau down the stretch should reconsider.

    I think Span has the versatility to play all three spots. The key is to keep him in the lead-off spot 90% of the time. Another thing to consider. Where is D. Young’s best defensive position? Would Span be our best defensive left fielder?

  8. TT October 5, 2008 at 2:25 pm #

    I think anyone who thinks playing every game all season didn’t effect Morneau down the stretch should reconsider.

    I think Morneau could have used a few days off, but that means sitting maybe 10 games at most over the course of the season. And he will still DH in a few of those, which doesn’t open up any more at bats for anyone.

    Where is D. Young’s best defensive position?

    I think the real question is what is the Twins best defensive outfield and I think that is Young, Gomez and Span. Cuddyer is a good right fielder because of his arm, but he doesn’t have the range that those three have. Of course the idea is to get Cuddyer’s bat in the order – the same as Kubel.

  9. mike wants wind October 5, 2008 at 5:45 pm #

    Depth does not win you games, putting a handful of great players on the field does. Five OF does the Twins no good. They’d be much better off with 2 very good ones and 2 mediocre ones. Five that are ok to good on offense really isn’t a winning combination (unless the other positions are so good as to make up for that). You can only play 3-4 at a time (assuming you use one as DH).

    Kubel is the best hitter, by far, of the five. Why anyone would think he is the least valuable is beyond me.

  10. TT October 5, 2008 at 8:17 pm #

    Kubel is the best hitter, by far, of the five. Why anyone would think he is the least valuable is beyond me.

    Because he is really a DH and not a very good defensive outfielder. He also is not the best hitter to have come to the plate in a critical situation, unless you want to pretend no one has a left hander in their bullpen. He really can’t hit lefties at all. And he doesn’t have much speed. The combination of lack of defense, speed and an inability to hit lefties makes him less valuable than players who contribute with the glove even when they aren’t hitting well and can’t be almost totally neutralized by a LOOGY.

  11. Matt October 6, 2008 at 10:35 am #

    You forgot that Joe Mauer is going to DH 2 of every 10 games already (7 games at C, 1 day off, 2 days DH).

    Morneau won’t be a regular DH but could see 1 game every 20, depending on who could play 1B. Could Cuddy play 1B on those days?

    I think Cuddyer should be the odd-man out – sub out in RF for Span and when Span subs Gomez out in CF, spot at 3B and spot at 1B. Maybe DH or PH. I would prefer he get traded if he is not the answer at 3B – can we package him and Humber (or Perkins) and a couple of minor prospects for a real 3B?

  12. Kim P October 6, 2008 at 4:57 pm #

    Give Cuddy some time at 1st against lefties to rest Morneau because it was clear he(J.M.) was worn-out at the end. Cuddy could also platoon with J Kubel as DH. I wouldn’t touch the trio of Young, Gomez, and Span their too good defensively. Just a thought.

  13. DC October 6, 2008 at 7:41 pm #

    I’m glad to see others agree the Twins shouldn’t trade any of the outfielders. Since when are four OFs considered
    “excess”? Over a 162 game season, injuries and regression will occur.


  1. Weekend Update « - October 5, 2008

    […] ·         If you missed it on Saturday, I posted an article on my thoughts on the Twins OF situation in 2009. […]

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