|Ben Revere had several memorable catches last season.|
There are two potential points of contention to that plan:
- Assigning Span to center ahead of Revere;
- Making Revere a regular at all.
These are connected, but ... let's deal, today, with the alignment question. There are those -- such as Michael Rand of the Star Tribune -- who think it would be more effective to put Revere in center with Willingham in his accustomed left field and Span in right.
Examine the skill sets. None of the three has a true right field arm; Willingham, easily the slowest of the trio, is a converted catcher, which suggests he may have the strongest arm of the group. Revere has eye-popping range in center, but Span is quite good out there as well, and his arm is better than Revere's.
Gardenhire believes it's more important to keep his regulars comfortable. Willingham is used to playing left, but has agreed to shift to right -- and Gardenhire sees his part of the bargain as not moving him back and forth. Span prefers center to an outfield corner. And while Revere is the front runner for a regular position, his weaknesses could turn him into a part-timer.
That, I think, is a prime reason to go with Span in center.
It appears likely right now that the reserve outfielders will be Ryan Doumit (who'll also DH, catch and play first base) and Trevor Plouffe (converted infielder with little outfield experience). Neither is any sort of center field option. If Revere loses playing time -- if, for example, he winds up platooning with Plouffe -- Gardenhire doesn't want to move Span around.
Gardenhire is not a big platooner, but his outfield plan certainly makes it easier to go to a platoon arrangment in left. And it makes it easy to handle his RF/1B/C/DH set up, in which he has four regulars (Willingham, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and Doumit) for four positions and he can mix and match to rest his position players.