Monday, March 26, 2012

The old shortstops

Jamey Carroll has
never been a regular
shortstop in the
major leagues.
A couple of notes related to the Monday print column on the Twins shortstop situation:

A Yankees-oriented blog, Was Watching, recently posted this list of shortstops who played 100-plus games at age 38 or more. I'm linking to it here so that I have ready access to it.

It's relevant to the Yankees because of Derek Jeter. It's even more relevant to the Twins because of Jamey Carroll, who is, as of now, slated to be Minnesota's regular shortstop.

The list is Hall-of-Famers or nearly so. There are a couple of nonentities from the 1880s and the first years of the American League, but everybody else was a true standout. Omar Vizquel had a corner on the market in Gold Gloves for a decade, Maury Wills won an MVP, Larry Bowa set fielding records ... and those are the weakest careers of the bunch.

Jeter is one of the greatest shortstops ever. He fits that crowd. Carroll does not. That, in a nutshell, is why I am skeptical of the plan to install him at short.

Different book, same chapter, with a plot twist:

In the spring of 2005, Jason Bartlett was 25 and the putative heir to the shortstop position, freshly vacated by Cristian Guzman. Terry Ryan signed veteran utility infielder Juan Castro as a fallback option.

Ron Gardenhire was reluctant to play Bartlett; the manager found Bartlett too deferential. And, in truth, Bartlett didn't hit in 2005. Bartlett outplayed Castro in spring training 2006, but opened the season in the minors. It wasn't until Ryan dumped Castro that Bartlett got to play regularly.

Gardenhire is voicing no such reservations about Brian Dozier. But Ryan has provided his manager with a veteran utility infielder to play ahead of a relatively old rookie (Dozier turns 25 in May). He even signed Carroll as a free agent from the Dodgers, just as he did Castro.

This time around, it appears to be the general manager who is reluctant to turn the job over to the rookie.

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