Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sorting through the infield options

The Twins didn't get to their first home game before Plan A for their middle infield took its first hit with the injury to Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Now, not quite a full week into May, Plan A is dead.

And Plan B is ... complicated.

Trevor Plouffe seems
certain to get at least
a few weeks of regular
duty at short.
It seems safe to say that the Alexi Casilla era at shortstop -- should we call it the Casilla error? -- is over. The Twins swept the White Sox with Matt Tolbert at short and Casilla at second. That duo wasn't perfect afield, but the Twins did turn three double plays (one with the aid of a missed call by an umpire) in the Tuesday no-hitter and added two more on Wednesday.

Still, Tolbert is hitting .180/.196/.260 on the season, which makes Casilla's .183/.244/.268 look almost respectable. I don't think this is going to be the regular alignment while the Twins await Nishioka's return.

The callup of Trevor Plouffe suggests that the former first-round draftee is going to get a shot at short. I see no reason for optimism. The Plouffe I saw in my brief time in spring training made Casilla look like Ozzie Smith with the glove. Plouffe has more than 800 games in the minors and has never made much of an impression.

But this is his turn. He gets the job, at least until Nishioka's ready to return. If Plouffe plays well, Nishioka returns as the second baseman; if Plouffe does not, Nishioka might return as the shortstop.

Then there's the flock of second base options. There have been indications that Ron Gardenhire wants to lean heavily on Michael Cuddyer there. But with Delmon Young and Jim Thome both on the disabled list, Cuddyer might be more likely to be in the outfield for the next couple of weeks, which is fine by me. If I see reason to be wary of Plouffe at short, I see even more reason to be wary of playing a 32-year-old outfielder at second.

Granted, Luke Hughes hasn't done much with the bat (.234/.265/.319) and isn't much better defensively than Cuddyer, and as already noted, Tolbert and Casilla haven't hit at all

For that matter, neither has Cuddyer, who has three home runs and four RBIs. That is not a misprint. He's driven in one of his teammates all year.

Bottom line: The middle infield is going to remain in flux for a while. Expect Plouffe to get regular time at short and a grab bag at second -- and more turnover when Nishioka is ready to return.

No comments:

Post a Comment