Monday, July 15, 2013

Shaking up the roster

Oswaldo Arcia tries (and fails) to break his bat
after yet another strikeout.
The Twins go into the All-Star break with a two-game winning streak. They will come out of the break on Friday with a drastically different outfield.

The Twins optioned out three players after Sunday's win: outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, infielder Eduardo Escobar and first baseman/right fielder Chris Parmelee. Catcher/outfielder Chris Herrmann and infielder Doug Bernier were immediately named as call-ups; the third addition was not named, but is expected to be first baseman Chris Colabello, who is slated to play in the Triple A all-star game Wednesday.

It has been said here since early in the offseason that 2013 doesn't matter. All decisions should be made with the future as the priority. A good case can be made for two of the demotions on that basis, not so much the third.

Let's take the least important one first. Bernier, who has all of four major league at-bats, is a 33-year-old minor league veteran who is having, literally, his first good hitting season that didn't come in a notoriously good hitting environment. The only point to swapping out Escobar for him is giving the younger (24) Escobar a chance to play; he's had all of 13 at-bats this month.

There is, to be blunt, no question worth asking about the future of the Twins to which Bernier is a useful answer. Escobar might be a utility infielder of the Al Newman/Nick Punto ilk down the road; right now, Ron Gardenhire isn't playing him, so he's not developing. Bernier can sit on the bench as well as Escobar can.

The Arcia demotion brought immediate complaints on my Twitter feed, largely along the lines of: yeah, he's been awful for the past week, but so was Aaron Hicks for six weeks and they didn't send him down.

True, but: Hicks, during his horrendous April, was doing other things to help the team. He drew a few walks; he played better defense in center field than anybody else available to them; he ran the bases well in those few times he was on base. Arcia in a slump does nothing to help; this is the outfielder, remember, who fielded a foul fly with his face last week.

Chris Parmelee's natural position is first base,
but he's played just 66 innings there this season.
According to Baseball Info Systems's defensive metrics, Arcia is -17 in the plus-minus rating and -10 in runs saved. In contrast, Josh Willingham, widely recognized as a poor defensive outfielder, is -9 and -4 — in about 150 more innings.

Arcia on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday came to the plate 14 times and struck out 11 times. Throughout that stretch of futility, Gardenhire spoke publicly about how Arcia was trying to "hit an eight-run homer;" certainly the youngster was talked to about it; and he kept overswinging.

Arcia is a big part of the Twins' future. But he needs to do a better job of adjusting, and it may well be that he needs a reality check.

For me, the demotion of Parmelee is the bigger disappointment. Certainly his offense hasn't been what one desires from a first baseman-right fielder, and he hasn't gotten better (one hit and 12 strikeouts in his past 22 at-bats). Considering how he dominated the International League last year, I don't know what he's going to learn from this demotion.

I certainly would rather see Parmelee get at-bats in the majors than Clete Thomas. Parmelee may not turn out to be a regular on a contender; we know Thomas isn't.

Presumably the Twins intend to bring both Arcia and Parmelee back soon. Until then, the corner outfield spots will likely be manned by some combination of Ryan Doumit, Thomas and Herrmann. I don't think this is an upgrade.


  1. Question about joe mauer. We all know he is skilled with the bat and is a decent behind the plate. While listening to the game on sunday gibson was struggling in the first inning, shouldn' t joe gone out to settle him down? It seems that he doesn't go out to the mound unless pitching coach or manager does. Any thoughts's?

  2. You are right about a couple of things, neither Bernier or Thomas figure to have any part in the Twins future success. I assume that Ryan and Gardy really want to look at Colabello who could get some of the AB's you assigned to Doumit, Thomas and Herrmann. I also think it possible that the Twins would be open to trading Doumit, Thomas and Carroll. In order to do that, they have to play during the time leading up to the trade deadline. That would mean Arcia, Parmelee and Escobar aren't. So put them in the minors and let them play.

    I do wonder what the Twins thinking is about Parmelee. He has lost AB's all year to guys who won't be a part of the future. Parmelee might not be a part of the future either, but it hard to be sure whether he should be or not at this point.

  3. The Twins should be opent to trading ANYBODY for whom they can get value. I'd be looking to dump Doumit and Morneau and Kevin Carria etc. And Perkins' value will never be any higher. Maybe Ryan can sucker a g.m. who remains infatuated with the save stat, or like somebody did by trading for Matt Capps a few years ago.