Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The third base hole

Danny Valencia wears No. 19 on his back, which is oddly appropriate. He happens to be the 19th man to start at least once at third base for the Twins since Corey Koskie's departure after the 2004 season.

He's played all of six games, 22 official at-bats — not anywhere near enough to put any weight on the stats. But so far, he hasn't given the appearance of being the guy to end the revolving door at the position.

Yes, he's hitting .318. He's also slugging .318 — all seven hits have been singles. He's had one walk and six strikeouts. And he wasn't racking up the extra base hits in Triple A either.

The infield remains a sore spot right now, with Orlando Hudson on the disabled list and J.J. Hardy, while not on the DL, a candidate to join him. The current alignment — Matt Tolbert at second, Valencia at third and Nick Punto at short, with slumping Brendan Harris in reserve — is pretty punchless.

Get Hardy and Hudson healthy, and the Twins can readily carry a defense-oriented third baseman. Both Tolbert and Punto have had stretches of everyday play in which they contributed solid on-base percentages. (And they've had stretches in which they haven't.)

What will be interesting to see is who falls off the roster when Hudson and Hardy return to the lineup. Valencia would seem a likely candidate to return to the minors, with Tolbert sliding into the deep-reserve role played initially by the now-injured Alexi Casilla and the Punto-Harris combo returning to play third.

Or perhaps the decision makers have tired of watching Punto (.219) and Harris (.162) fail at the plate. Perhaps Tolbert goes back to Rochester and Valencia gets a longer look at third, with Punto and Harris as the bench guys.

I'd prefer Punto or even Tolbert at third. But my vote doesn't count.


For the record, here are the 19 men (in alphabetical order) who've started at least one game at third base for the Twins since 2004:

Tony Batista, Brian Buscher, Alexi Casilla, Juan Castro, Jeff Cirillo, Howie Clark, Joe Crede, Michael Cuddyer, Brendan Harris, Luke Hughes, Mike Lamb, Matt Macri, Nick Punto, Luis Rodriguez, Terry Tiffee, Matt Tolbert, Danny Valencia, Tommy Watkins and Glenn Williams.


  1. That is a scary list!

  2. If Harris can't get off the bench now, then he's just a wasted spot on the roster. The Twins should just DFA him when Hudson is ready to come off the DL and keep the rest. Valencia looks as ready as he'll ever be. Might as well give him a shot. He might be hitting an empty (and lucky) .318, but that's better than what the Twins have been getting. It doesn't look like the Twins will need to worry about his service-time clock starting anyways, and even if they did, he's past the time to worry about super-2 status.