Twins Outfield Situation

4 Jan

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If the Twins season were to start today, the Twins outfield would be pretty well set. Denard Span would be leading off and playing in centerfield. Josh Willingham will be hitting somewhere in the middle of the lineup and playing in right field. Ben Revere will be playing in left field most days with Trevor Plouffe spelling him from time to time, particularly against some tough left-handers. Ryan Doumit can spell Willingham in right field from time to time while also DHing.

Waiting in the wings will be Rene Tosoni and Joe Benson, both of whom we saw in 2011, and both of whom likely would need another half-season of Triple-A seasoning before being ready for more full-time duty in the big leagues. Dustin Martin is as ready as he’ll ever be after putting up very solid numbers in 2011, his third Triple-A season. The Twins also added some minor league free agents with big league service time. Wilkin Ramirez was a highly touted prospect in the Tigers system just two years ago. Brian Dinkelman saw time during the 2011 season with the Twins and is now a career .301 hitting in the big leagues. Matt Carson hit 24 Triple-A home runs in 2011 and spent time with the A’s in 2009 and 2010.

Waiting in the wings are several outfielders including Aaron Hicks, Angel Morales and Oswaldo Arcia who could all spend time in Double-A in 2012. Also, Chris Herrmann will primarily be catching, but he is also a terrific outfielder.

Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Jason Repko will all be playing elsewhere in 2012. Willingham was added and will do a fine job providing power and on-base percentage to the middle of the lineup.

Trade Options

From time to time we hear a rumor about the Twins potentially trading Denard Span. Obviously that all originated with the Nationals rumors last year at the trade deadline revolving around Drew Storen. Trading Span before the season makes absolutely no sense. With the injury concerns that affected him much of the second half of the 2011 season, the Twins would be trading low. With his defense and on-base skills, he can provide a lot of value to a team, but he will need to rebuild that value. He is signed to a very reasonable contract and can be a new team leader for the Twins.

Then some turn their attention to Ben Revere. Should the Twins trade Revere? What is his upside? That has certainly been a discussion topic for blogs the last year or more. However, he will make league minimum for a couple more years, and if the team is working on a salary cap, and has some huge contracts (Mauer, Morneau, etc.), then having production at the league minimum is necessary. Revere will hit for more average than he did in 2011 and with that will increase his on-base percentage. He plays good defense and is a terror to opponents on the base paths.

Of course, the appropriate saying for both is that they should remain with the Twins unless Terry Ryan is overwhelmed by an offer.

Free Agents

The Twins have really filled out the offense for their 2012 season, it appears. There are some names available in free agency. There are some DH types like Luke Scott, Vlad Guerrero, Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez and Hideki Matsui that are still available. There are names like JD Drew and Kosuke Fukodome who certainly can get on base at a good clip. The only outfielders that would be worth going after, in my opinion, are Cubans Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler, but those two will get huge signing bonuses from the big money teams.

Others: Alfredo Amezaga, Rick Ankiel, Milton Bradley, Jay Gibbons, Scott Hairston, Bill Hall, Willie Harris, Brad Hawpe, Eric Hinske, Conor Jackson, Austin Kearns, Ryan Ludwick, Xavier Nady, Corey Patterson, Juan Pierre, Cody Ross, Ryan Spilborghs, Marcus Thames and Dewayne Wise.

Frankly, outside of Cespedes and Soler, I’m not really interested in any of the above outfielders or DHs. Does that mean that I think Trevor Plouffe is better than someone like Cody Ross? No, but Plouffe makes league minimum while Ross will be very overpaid. And, Plouffe, being out of options, needs an opportunity to show whether he is a capable big leaguer or not.

I feel the Twins outfield situation is fine. Obviously they will have to play well on the field, but I wouldn’t make any additions. Would you? What would you do? Feel free to leave comments in the Comments section.


18 Responses to “Twins Outfield Situation”

  1. Paula Minell January 4, 2012 at 2:55 am #

    Has Repko signed somewhere? I know he isn’t an All-Star, but I really liked him. I’d love to know where he’ll be playing.

  2. Ned January 4, 2012 at 7:36 am #

    Didn’t Willingham play left field with Oakland? When Span came up with Gomez, he played a great right field. Why not consider Willingham in left, Revere in center and Span in right?

  3. Andrew January 4, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    I agree – – it would have to be a pretty good offer to consider moving Span or Revere. I also think Revere might turn out to be one of the best #9 hitters in the league, and he will probably benefit from watching (a healthy) Span from the on-deck circle take 600-some at-bats this season.

    • TT January 4, 2012 at 11:08 am #

      Andrew –

      The number nine hitter doesn’t watch the leadoff hitter from the on-deck circle. Its the other way around.

      • Andrew January 4, 2012 at 11:30 am #

        That’s what happens when I try to do things early in the morning! Good catch, TT!!

  4. Jeff January 4, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    For the Twins to be competitive in 2012, improved defense and solid relief pitching are needed most. The Twins were next to last in the AL in fielding (errors, fldg %) and team ERA. They also had the fewest strikeouts of any AL team, which is not a good indicator of starting pitching.

    If M & M can get and stay healthy, that wouldn’t hurt either – the Twins scored the second fewest runs in the AL (edging out Seattle).

    It would be hard fro the Twins to be worse than they were in 2011. Nonetheless, there are plenty of uncertainties about this team.

  5. thrylos98 January 4, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    I am pretty sure (unless I miss some late December signings) that Dustin Martin is a minor league free agent who has not signed back with the Twins (or any other team) yet. I just don’t think that he is in the Twins’ plans at this point (or was last season because it could have made sense to call him up at some point…) Outfield/DH is probably one of my last worries with the Twins this season. I expect a break-through year from Revere putting numbers close to his 2010 NB and 2011 Roc seasons, Plouffe understanding the position slowly and becoming a solid presence at RF (lots of parallels to Cuddyer and his move to the OF, btw) and Span potentially becoming trade bait by mid-season bringing back help for a division run.

    • mike wants wins January 4, 2012 at 9:58 am #

      I mostly agree with this. I’m more expecting a better year from Revere, than a breakout year, though. I’m not sure he has “breakout” in him, but I think he has great fielder, very good base runner, adequate hitter inside of him. I think Span will come back healthy, put up good numbers, and be traded. I think trading Span is a mistake, as I feel he is under rated, but he’s one of the few real trade chips they have that can return real value. I just hope he isn’t dealt for relief pitching, as that is over valued.

  6. Jim H January 4, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Yesterday, Lavelle Neal of the Strib posted an article stating that the Twins had reached their spending limit. He cited a Twins source for this. While I enjoy reading Neal’s stuff, I think we should remember a few things. There are only a handful of people in the Twins organization that are likely to know for sure what the limit is and whether it is a hard cap or whether there is wiggle room. Or even if Ryan is trying to save room for in season deals. It is pretty unlikely that Neal’s source is one of those people, no matter how knowledgable he may be. There is also little reason for Ryan to let that kind of information out.

    My guess is that Ryan has plenty of wiggle room and could probably spend a sigificant amount of money, if he wanted, for the right deal. He probably won’t at this point for any number of reasons, but I bet he could if the right free agent or trade was there. Again, there is little reason for Ryan to either confirm or deny that he has reached a “cap”.

  7. jjswol January 4, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    I just can’t see Willingham in right field. He may start the season there but by Memorial Day he will be playing left and Doumit will get most of the time in right field. Span will play center and Revere will be the fourth outfielder but will get substanial playing time coming in for Span in center while Span moves to right when the Twins have a lead in the later innings.

  8. R Hobbs January 4, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    Span can not play right field except in an emergency. He has one of the worst throwing arms in the Show. Seth, the guy I would like to the Twins sign is Johnny Damon if you could get him for $2-3 million. He can still play a little outfield, has similiar OBP and SB numbers to Span with much better pop and base running. He is also the veteran leader that this club sorely lacks. I think this is especially a good idea, given the mixed data on Revere and Span’s health issues.

    • cj January 4, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

      Span has an OK arm. It’s Revere that has the worst outfield arm in the Majors since Shannon Stewart. Span was dynamic his first year in the Bigs when he played mostly Right or Left field. He’s a decent Center Fielder, but not a great one.

  9. TT January 4, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    That outfield looks fine until the first injury. I don’t think Doumit is an outfielder any more than Cuddyer was a second baseman. He can play there, but not on a regular basis. I am not sure Dinkelman and Ramirez add much depth and neither Tosoni nor Benson looked ready last year either.

  10. dave January 4, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    I agree that Terry, financially, may be keeping his powder dry. I understand Seth’s argument that Span’s trading value is likely reduced right now, but I would add one qualifer. I now live in the DC metro area and the Nationals’ current obsession to upgrade is even stronger than their former determination to do nothing. They might well give the Twins the same package they reportedly offered last year. If so, take it! There is no way of telling if Span will ever fully recover.

  11. Dennis January 4, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    I like Trevor. He didn’t do much for many years in the minors, but he did emerge last year and deserves some playing time.

  12. Shane Wahl January 5, 2012 at 12:37 am #

    There still seems to be talk of trading Span because Revere is able to play CF. Well, even if we grant that Revere in CF with that arm is feasible, WHAT ABOUT THE LEADOFF SPOT!? Can someone point to any other capable leadoff hitter other than Aaron Hicks (hopefully) in the system who is within 2-3 years of the Show? I can’t comprehend the Span-trade talk right now.

    Revere *should* be the guy traded at some point. Maybe not this year, maybe not even in the offseason, but probably by sometime in 2013 if Benson is ready.

    RF, other than the wall, is a much better spot than LF in Target Field for Willingham. LF is pretty spacious (Revere!).

  13. kjkulsrud January 5, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    First off, don’t think for a minute that Terry Ryan would trade Denard Span for anything less than an entire new minor league team. When Terry was brought back onboard and asked about the Revere v. Span debate he all but threw up in his mouth that Ben Revere was mentioned in the same breath as Denard Span. Denard is Terry’s guy and will be for years to come. Other than that you can’t slam Span’s arm and then mention to sign Johnny Damon who has one of the worst outfield arms in recent memory, even worse than Revere (which is why he should not be an every day center fielder). The Twins actually (pending injury) are set up pretty damn well for this next year, they will improve defensively and probably put up more numbers… that equals more wins.

  14. Shane Wahl January 5, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    You’re right, kjkulsrud. A healthy lineup of the following:

    1. Span (CF)
    2. Carroll (SS)
    3. Mauer (C)
    4. Willingham (RF)
    5. Morneau (1B/DH)
    6. Doumit (DH/1B)
    7. Valencia (3B)
    8. Casilla (2B)
    9. Revere (LF)

    With Plouffe and Hughes as righties filling in against lefties, has a lot of OBP potential and adequate power, and 75+ stolen bases at the bottom.

    Now filling out that bench with Nishioka and Butera is a shame (Butera belongs coaching somewhere and Nishioka clearly needs to *become* a utility infielder in Rochester for several weeks).

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