Saturday, March 2, 2013

A few thoughts after one week of games

Aaron Hicks has
won praise so far
this spring.
It's too soon to make definitive evaluations, but it's not too soon to have early impressions. Here are a handful:

* All three of the center field candidates have performed well in the first week of exhibition games, but it seems Aaron Hicks has taken a quick lead in the competition.

Which makes sense. Hicks and Darin Mastroianni are the two who profile as top-of-the-order hitters; Hicks and Joe Benson are the two with "high ceilings." Hicks is the one who has both.

As long as he continues to play good defense and provide sound at-bats, he should wind up with the job.

* Pedro Florimon, the putative front-runner for the shortstop job, hit a flyball over the center fielder's head Friday for a double. This had the radio boys talking about how the Twins say Florimon came to camp stronger this year and thus more of a power threat.

I'm not buying the power threat part. Florimon may well wind up with the shortstop job, but he's not going to be an offensive plus, and he isn't going to help much by hitting warning track fly balls.

Twins fans of a certain age will remember Houston Jimenez, the shortstop of the unlikely 1984 contenders. He held the job for most of the season because he was a competent defensive shortstop, but he couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat, as the cliche goes — .201/.238/.245 in more than 300 plate appearances in 1984. He was the master of the 340-foot fly ball.  I suspect Florimon may prove a switch-hitting version of Jimenez. If so, he'd better be a better defensive player than Jimenez.

* The likely starting rotation hasn't covered itself in glory so far — Scott Diamond hasn't taken the mound yet, and Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey and Vance Worley have all been knocked around some. The best outings have come from guys competing for the fifth job, like Liam Hendriks and Kyle Gibson.

The veterans aren't sweating it yet. If I'm wary of Correia — and I am — it's because of his established track record, not because he's been hit in his February outings. If I'm cautious about Pelfrey — and I am — it's because he's less than a year removed from Tommy John surgery, not because he's been hit in his February outings.

Nobody's winning, or losing, a job on the basis of the first week of exhibition games. Not even Hicks.

1 comment:

  1. It might be possible to lose a job, early in camp. Marginal guys like Clement probably have to impress early and continue to impress to have any chance of making the team out of spring training. As the established vets start needing more game AB's, somebody else gets less chance to show their stuff. Some of the young guys(like Rosario) aren't going to make the team no matter what they do. But a Clement or Colabello who have some small chance of making the team, probably have a small margin of error. They have give the Twins a pretty strong reason to be added to the 25 man roster.