Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Second or Third?

The Twins appear to have two openings in the infield and are likely to fill one while letting Nick Punto take the other. At least it looks that way to a lot of fans, bloggers and other sports writers.  But if there is a choice, which should have priority, a second baseman or a third baseman. The decision depends on two factors, who is available outside the organization and who is available for each position internally. Here are the internal candidates:

Second Base:
Punto, Casilla, Tolbert, Harris, Tolleson?

Third Base:
Punto, Tolbert, Harris, Valencia?, Plouffe?

I think Punto is probably a better second baseman than at third. His bat certainly fits there better at second, but that isn't really relevant since he will be hitting in the same spot in the batting order in either case. On defense, it probably doesn't make much difference.

Gardy obviously doesn't think Harris is a second baseman, and I think the same thing is probably true of Tolbert who has limited experience turning the double play. Given a choice, Harris and Tolbert are probably going to be at third.

That leaves the prospects, suspects etc. The real question may be who is more likely to contribute to the Twins this year, Valencia or Casilla. A lot of people have given up on Casilla, but I doubt the Twins have from the comments made by Bill Smith that Casilla is a better player than he showed this year.  One thing that is a pattern is that fans, bloggers and sports writers all get excited about young players much too early and then give up on them just as quickly when they don't produce immediately. I question whether Valencia will ever be a major league regular, but it is highly doubtful he will take the third base job out of spring training. On the other hand, it's not impossible that Casilla will finally be ready to put all that talent to use this year.

If the choice is third or second, I think the Twins ought to be looking at adding a third baseman. While it is not at all certain Casilla will come through, I don't think its time to give up on him by signing a veteran player to a long term contract at second. Especially with Punto set to play there unless Casilla develops to the point that he takes the job away from him.  


Robert said...

While I think Casilla has the ability to succeed as a major leaguer, I think he has dug himself too deep a hole in gardy's eyes, and has already been given a fair shake. I think in order for him to secure playing time someone will need to get hurt and he will have to really take advantage.

Jim H said...

Fans do give up on prospects too quickly, after expecting too much too soon. I agree with the thought that the Twins probably aren't ready to give up on Castilla yet. They would get little in a trade, there is no good reason to release him yet. He does have to show some consistency soon. Being out of options means that this spring will be big for him, if he hopes to be a big leaguer with the Twins.

As far as 3rd base goes, I pretty much hope that Crede is not resigned. Durability is important, and there is no reason to believe he will regain any. Also I wasn't much impressed with his production. Tolbert was much more useful in Sept. than any month during the year that Crede provided. And that is not really a compliment to Tolbert. A few home runs don't make up for all the 0-fors that Crede gives you.

I am not really sure what the Twins should do the rest of the off season. While I disagree with your comment in the last post that the Twins rotation is a mess, I wouldn't mind a real upgrade there. While I think the Twins will likely add another infielder to the mix, I expect it will be a short term fix that will not really satisfy the fans/bloggers/sports commentators.

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