Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hicks, Arcia and Thomas

Clete Thomas dives unsuccessfully for a ball last week
in Kansas City.
The Twins on Monday put rookie center fielder Aaron Hicks on the disabled list and called up fellow rookie Oswaldo Arcia.

This breaks from the customary pattern of waiting five to seven days to make a roster move and suggests that Hicks' hamstring injury is rather significant. Or, alternatively, that somebody involved in the decision is eager to get Hicks and his .179 batting average out of the lineup.

Either way, the move opens two questions: Who plays center field? and What will the Twins do with Arcia?

Aaron Hicks is hitting
.280 in June. Of
course, that's just
25 at-bats.
These are, unfortunately, separate questions. Arcia is, or will be given sufficient exposure to major league pitching, a quality hitter, but he's of limited use in the outfield. In his earlier stint with the big league team, his defensive metric numbers were even worse that those of Josh Willingham. While those may not be a truly accurate assessment of Arcia in the field, the Twins certainly wouldn't be doing their pitchers any favors by playing Arcia in center.

Nor, I suspect, will they by playing Clete Thomas there. I grumbled here when the Twins called Thomas up for a reserve role, because I don't know what he does well enough that you'd want to put him in the game to do it. I like the idea of giving him regular play even less than I like the idea of him as a backup.

But, just as somebody has to hit leadoff, somebody has to be stationed in center. Thomas is the most likely candidate, even though I think he's a center fielder in the same way that Wilkin Ramirez (still sidelined with his concussion) is a center fielder. Thomas and Ramirez are more mobile than Chris Parmelee and Willingham, but that doesn't really make them center fielders. Center field isn't easy; that's why Hicks remained in the lineup through two-plus months of hitting under .180.

Personally, I'd rather see Chris Herrmann in center than Thomas, even though I doubt he's ever played center as a professional. He's probably faster than Thomas, and off what we saw from Thomas last year, he can't be a worse hitter.

Oswaldo Arcia
strained his throwing
shoulder soon after
his demotion last
month, but did
play right field on
Sunday for
But the Twins are as likely to play Parmelee or Arcia in center as they are to install Herrmann, which is to say it isn't going to happen.

How to fit Arcia in the lineup is another issue. The Twins took a great deal of Internet criticism for demoting him last month with better stats than most on the team, but the criticism ignored the current reality: Pitchers weren't throwing him fastball strikes anymore, and he was stringing together noncompetitive at-bats, swinging at fastballs well out of the zone and unable to cope with offspeed strikes.

Under the principle that 2013 is less the issue than 2014 and beyond is, Arcia (just 22) has to play if he's going to be in the majors. Since Willingham, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau aren't leaving the lineup, getting Arcia his playing time means cutting out either Ryan Doumit or Parmelee. Doumit has been productive in recent days, and Parmelee hasn't hit well all year, so the choice seems pretty cut-and-dried for immediate purposes.

Of course, that assumes Arcia will stop getting himself out this time around. Parmelee hasn't hit, but he has given good at-bats.

1 comment:

  1. Parmelee is batting .283/.377/.453 with 8 walks and 7 Ks over his last 17 games.