There are a lot of complaints about Ron Gardenhire's comments in Fargo regarding next year's outfield. They got blown way out of proportion over at the STRIB by Howard Sinker, the former sports writer who is trying to write stuff that sounds the way sports writers think typical fans think. But in many ways Gardenhire was merely stating the obvious, Cuddyer, Gomez, Span are the starting point for next year's outfield. What are the other options for next year?
1) Cuddyer, Young, Gomez
2) Young, Span, Gomez
3) Cuddyer, Young, Span
It appears to me that Gardenhire's trio is the strongest both offensively and defensively.
We can start by eliminating option one simply because Span is the Twins leadoff hitter. The Twins could move Gomez back into that spot, but there is nothing that would indicate he is any more ready for that than he was last year.
Option two seems to be the one many fans support. But if he plays like he did in 2007, Cuddyer is better both offensively and defensively than Young. With his arm and his experience with the baggie that would be true even if Young moved to right field and Span went over to left.
Option three is probably the most arguable. But Gardy rightly sees Gomez as his future center fielder. Span is no slouch in center, but Gomez has the potential to be a worthy replacement of Torii Hunter as he gets more experience.Putting Young and Cuddyer in the corners with Span between them is the worst defensive outfield the Twins could have.
Of course, the real problem is not what makes the best outfield next year. Its that many people see Young as a budding super-star. Cuddyer isn't. That 2007 player is probably his ceiling and he may not ever reach that again. But that is looking long term and there is nothing wrong with having Young in a postion of having to force Gardy to play him more. With Kubel in the DH slot, there are going to be opportunities for a right handed bat to play. But if you are looking at the opening day lineup, then you would have to go with Cuddyer, Gomez and Span.
Of course opening day is a long way away. Its possible someone will get hurt or play their way into a regular role in spring training. Or get traded. But for now Gardy is spot on.